You might have inferred from reading some of my posts here that I’m not an outdoors sort of person, and that inference would have been absolutely correct. I hate camping, hiking, trekking, kayaking, and being present in or near sunlight. I like the idea of nature, but I prefer to keep a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on your perspective) distance from it. So you can rest assured that the closest I’ve ever gotten to hunting was playing Duck Hunt on the NES. No real-life hunting for me, thanks.
But who needs real-life hunting when we have itch.io? The following free games all involve hunting as a mechanic. Well, sort of. One game involves hunting, and the other two games are square pegs I try desperately to pound into the round hole that is the theme of this post. Did I succeed? You be the judge.
Not a literal foxhunt, with hounds and horses and all that stuff, so you know I’m more or less breaking the theme of the post already. Not that I’d really want to play a game like that anyway. No, Foxhunt is instead a short surreal puzzle game set in a very small looping area that looks like the middle of the Antarctic Desert. The object of the game is to solve puzzles by following clues on cards scattered around the few abandoned structures and mechanisms in the environment. These clues have been left by “The Fox”, who may or may not be the white fox that keeps showing up to check in on you before running away and disappearing again when you get too close to it (see the screenshot on the right.) Then again, how would a fox write notes like this with its paws? Maybe I’m overthinking this.
I found Foxhunt to be pretty nice for what it is. The game was interesting enough to keep me playing through the 30 to 45 minutes it took to solve all of its puzzles, and some of the design elements makes me think Anomalina, the creator(s) of the game, was influenced by old adventure/puzzle games like Mystand Riven. I also have to mention the piano that makes up the game’s background music; it makes for the perfect atmosphere.
Anyway, Foxhunt is worth checking out if you want to play a short puzzle game set in a tundra. The last note in the game also suggests that the developer plans to expand on the ideas in Foxhunt, so they might be worth following.
The aptly titled Nonsense at Nightfall is the tale of a man who takes a sleeping pill that turns him into a cat, a fact that he takes very much in stride for some reason, because instead of immediately trying to turn himself back into a human, he decides to start looking for a mouse to eat (hence the hunting aspect of the game. That’s not too much of a stretch, is it?) This is another one of those Game Boy-ish games that seem to be so common on itch.io, I guess because they’re probably relatively easy to make and hold a bit of nostalgic value thanks to the old-school aesthetic.
Nonsense at Nightfall is only about half an hour long and consists of a few easy puzzles, a couple of weirdly creative twists, and a conclusion so obvious that it would have made me angry had the game been 1) not free and/or 2) longer than half an hour. But since it’s a short free game, the dumb fourth-wall-breaking joke ending really isn’t so bad, and to be fair, developer Siegfried Croes does set it up decently. This one was amusing enough to make me not regret downloading it, and that’s pretty much a thumbs up as far as these free games go. Nice job, Mr. Croes. Just, you know – if you make a longer game to follow up on this one, give it a more satisfying ending, okay?
It’s Duck Hunt. Yeah, someone just made a port of the NES classic Duck Hunt (probably only considered a “classic” because it was included on that Super Mario Bros. cartridge that came bundled with every NES ever sold, but that’s another matter) and put it on itch.io as a browser game. I’m pretty sure that’s not legal, even if you give Nintendo credit for their work. But since Duck Hunt is 35 years old at this point, I can’t imagine Nintendo caring enough to threaten legal action. Hell, everyone uses emulators these days, so what’s the difference?
Anyway, this port seems to be pretty faithful to the original game, with two exceptions. The first is that you’re naturally not playing with the NES Zapper but rather with your mouse, and the second is that the dog doesn’t laugh at you for missing ducks. At least he never did when I intentionally missed every duck and got a game over. I know how much we all hated that god damn dog for laughing at us, but leaving the laughing dog animation out of Duck Hunt is like leaving the yeti out of SkiFree. It’s just not the same game without it. Or maybe I’m missing something here. It’s been two decades and change since I last played Duck Hunt, so that’s possible.