Game Review: Duck Shoot (Vic 20, Mastertronic)

Duck Shoot, Vic 20, Mastertronic - IV0001
  • 7/10
    Score - 7/10


As expected, Shaun Southern manages to deliver a great game for Vic 20 owners and squeezes a great arcade shooter into the unexpanded machine. With frantic and addictive gameplay and great visuals Duck Shoot is one that’s not to be missed.

User Review
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One of the very first releases from Mastertronic, Duck Shoot, gave a good indication of what many of their early games were going to be like. This Vic 20 game by Shaun Southern was a cheap and cheerful shooter, and “took inspiration” from an arcade game, as did many of their early titles…

Duck Shoot – Arcade At Home

As I said, Duck Shoot – as with many other Mastertronic titles that followed it – was influenced by an arcade game and in this instance it was SEGA’s Carnival. Carnival was a single screen shoot-em-up that aimed to replicate the old fairground shooting galleries that used to be commonplace (anyone old enough to remember those?).

The display has your gun placed at the bottom which you can move aross the screen, with several rows of targets at the top. Each is in constant movement with various things to hit including rabbits and ducks (hence the title). You have a finite amount of ammunition (although more can be picked up from boxes you can shoot) and a timer is counting down. Clear the screen and you move on to the next level. Run out of time or ammo and its game over.

Fun But Challenging

Reading the above, you might think that Duck Shoot would make for a pretty dull game. Far from it. Because of the constraints on your ammunition, you can’t go in guns blazing as you would with any arcade shooter so you have to make every single shot count, making it a much more skill-dependent game rather than one reliant on reflexes. At the same time, you don’t have the luxury of being able to wait for targets to come around and pick your shots carefully so you’re playing under pressure at all times.

Combine those two elements together and it gives Duck Shoot a unique blend of arcade action and strategy all in one. Things really heat up the more you progress through the game though, as not only do the targets speed up on later levels, but the timer drops more rapidly as well, Sooner rather than later, you find yourself leaning towards a more arcade style of play without realising it, and that’s when your troubles start so you really need to keep a clear head at all times.

Keeping Things Simple

As a first release, Duck Shoot is probably one of the more accessible in terms of gameplay and controls. Movement of your gun is limited to left/right and fire and this can be done with keyboard or joystick and both work equally well. It has to be said that some thought has been give to the keyboard layout as well (unlike some games I could mention) so keyboard play is just as easy, if not preferable to joystick as well.

Also, as with most Mastertronic games, it’s designed to run on an unexpanded machine. So health permitting there was no reason why it couldn’t have been bought and played by any Vic 20 owner when it was released.

Graphics And Sound

Here is where Shaun Southern has worked wonders with the Vic 20. All of the targets are a single character in size but are well defined and easy to make out. The ducks need a few shots to be taken out but each time they are hit they change colour. Everything is clear, as is your ammo at the bottom of the screen and nothing ever looks cluttered. But what really impressed is the smoothness of the movement of everything on screen and just how many targets are moving at once. Bearing in mind the fact that the Vic 20 has no hardware sprites, this is an impressive feat and I’d say that it looks smoother than the C64 version.

Sound has a single channel tune (which fortunately you can turn off) plus some reasonable sound effects. The only thing I would have changed here would have been to have used the Vic’s third sound channel (the white noise generator) to create a gun shot noise instead of the blips that are used in the game.


Even though this is a relatively simple game, it’s the subtle complexity and strategy added by the time and ammo limits that really lift Duck Shoot above being an average shooter. It’s slick, fun, addictive and as with all great arcade games, got that “one more go” factor that will draw you back time after time.

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You know what we think but why not share your thoughts on this game! Let us know what you think of it in the comments below, or add your own score using the slider in the summary box at the top of the review!

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