Deer Captor is a blast from the past, a lazy rehash of a genre over two decades old that lets you blast stuff. The game doesn't look or feel particularly bad upfront - it has decent graphics, clean presentation and well functioning motion controls - but playing it is simply a bore, like you've been sold some watered-down version of those Cabela's Big Buck Hunter arcade games.
Deer Captor has two control options, either with the Wii Remote or the Wii Zapper, and both work well. Players are plunked into a stationary spot on the screen, and use the pointer to aim. Shots are fired by either the B or A button, and the view can be shifted slightly to the left and right by moving the reticule to the edge of the screen. The view shifts so slightly though that it seems like a pointless addition. The graphics get the job done, with simple outdoor arenas filled with foliage, birds and waterfalls, and nothing that looks particularly bad.
There are two modes in the single player campaign, “Instant” and “Challenge.” The first is a simple pick-up-and-play mode that lets you jump into an environment to start shooting animals. The animals you'll kill (or as the game calls it, “capture”) are bunnies, deer, bucks and birds. You choose from two weapons, a rifle or a crossbow: the rifle is more powerful but scares animals off when shot, while the crossbow is weaker but not as loud, causing fewer animals to run. The crossbow holds a slight edge over the rifle, mainly due to head shots: since all animals can be killed with one shot to the head, doing so with the crossbow is just as effective as the rifle.
Instant mode gives you unlimited ammo and one minute to get as many kills as you can. After playing this mode a few times, there is little incentive to continue. You can try to outdo your high score or compare with others online, but no new weapons or modes become unlocked and the animals are always the same, so it gets old quickly.
The other mode, Challenge mode, adds a little bit of variety by having you to complete various, sometimes mundane tasks. These challenges range from simple things like getting a head shot or “capturing” three deer, to harder ones like scoring 2,000 points in two minutes or stopping a stampede of bucks.
This mode is where some of Deer Captor's most frustrating design elements really shine. Take the 2,000 point challenge: you only have one minute to rack up your points, and sometimes you'll sit there for a solid ten seconds before any animals start showing up. Another challenge has you locating two “legendary” deer, one that's white and one gold. You have one minute to find them, and this exhilarating task involves clicking on maps, being transported to those areas, and then waiting to see if anything shows up, and a lot of the time, it doesn't. While this certainly extends the length of the challenge, it adds no fun to the experience, as you simply sit there, Wii Remote in hand, not shooting stuff - and who wants to do that?
Even the bare-bones multiplayer mode adds little to the experience, letting two to four players play simultaneously for the high score in “instant mode.” For some reason you can't choose which map to play in, so again the gameplay gets very old, shooting the same animals in the same environment. Still, competing for high score side by side does make you a little more invested in the gameplay, and you could always double up on Wii Remotes and duel wield a rifle and a crossbow like any true deer captor should.
Shooting gallery games used to make a lot of sense. Duck Hunt showcased the capabilities of the NES Zapper, Hogan's Alley changed up the formula by making us not shoot stuff, and Mad Dog McCree, admit it, blew your mind by letting you pop some caps in real life actors. It was the wave of the future. Deer Captor, however, is a snooze from the past. Even with perfectly adequate controls, pretty nice graphics and a four player multiplayer mode, the simplistic, repetitive gameplay and unimaginative challenges deliver little fun, moderate action, and a whole lot of regret. Even at a meagre 500 Points the game comes hard to recommend.