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28 Years of Christmas
1993: Light Guns Begin To Suck
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 29, 2002   |   Episode 5 (Show Archive)  

The Scoop: Light gun games have been a part of this culture since the early days of arcades. Heck, both Nintendo and Sega packaged light guns, or stunners, with their eight bit systems. So it seemed a little odd that these same companies would succumb to the pressure of political correctness.

When Nintendo announced their Super Scope for their Super Nintendo it was met with a rather muted reception. Gamers were a little confused by the ode to Rambo, especially considering that the days of big guns were over, and people were into smaller, sexy fire arms. A bazooka, as you can imagine, is not exactly what people have in mind when they play a gun game. For one thing, it's not very practical.

To compete, Sega would release an equally stupid looking device known as the Sega Menacer. Like the Super Scope, it was big and bulky, however you could pull it apart and make it resemble a handgun ... sort of.

Worse yet, the software that came packaged with these guns barely passed as games. On Nintendo's side they introduced a Tetris knock off, and in Sega's camp there was a ToeJam & Earl shooter. Extremely weak stuff here. It was enough to make you never want to play a gun game again. And frankly, why would you when games like Doom were starting to sprout up?

The Other Side: Frankly, if you never liked gun games, you probably never even witnessed a Super Scope up close. And maybe that's a good thing.

It should also be noted that Konami released a poorly supported gun named the Justifier. This gun offered an alternative to the Menacer and Super Scope, and supported games like Lethal Enforcers 1 and 2, and the
Sega CD classic, Snatcher. The Justifier actually came under fire when the government started complaining about violence in video games. The Justifier was a realistic, though blue, gun, and much easier to hold than anything Nintendo or Sega released in the 16 bit era.

The Impact: With only a few companies embracing the Menacer and Super Scope, it was slim pickens for the gun games. That doesn't mean that violent games just went away. On the contrary, games that perhaps would have been gun games actually turned into first person shooters. In this genre of games, the player is able to control where he is going, and whom he shoots.

These non-linear shooters ushered in a new generation of shooter, one that is still alive and well. Gun games, on the other hand, aren't very popular, and haven't been since the early 1990s. It could be as simple as a refusal to pay an extra $40 for a gun, or because of the limited game play, but regardless, only a handful of games trickled out for these accessories. On the other hand, the first person shooter offered dozens of games each and every year.

Where Are They Now?: For the most part we are back to where we started. The Namco GunCon, for example, has gone through two different versions, but it still looks pretty much like a "gun", and not a bazooka, or alien phaser, or something stupid. These days you can actually buy third party guns that look like "real" handguns.

Still, occasionally we still get the silly looking light guns. Most recently Mad Catz decided to design an Xbox gun that is both ugly and inefficient all at the same time. It's not as large as the Super Scope, and nowhere near as uncomfortable as the Menacer, but a step in the wrong direction.

Gun games are, for the most part, ignored by the general industry. A few find their way to store shelves here and there, but first person shooters and other action games have taken over where the gun game left off.


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