Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
29 Controls of Christmas
NES Zapper/SMS Light Phazer
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 28, 2008   |   Episode 2 (Show Archive)  


It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at 29 of the best known video game controls of all time, from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the Nintendo Wii remote. We're going to review each and every one of them, and then give you a short haiku. Join us as we celebrate this joyous season with the 29 Controls of Christmas!

Although the NES Zapper is a bit curvier, the Master System's Light Phazer does essentially the same thing!
Brief Synopsis: After establishing the standard game pad, both Nintendo and Sega decided to make the next logical step: A fake plastic light gun. Both the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Master System offered a light gun packaged in with the console. Both of these guns are a shade (the NES Zapper was originally grey, while the Master System's Light Phazer was black). And both of these light guns worked exactly the same way. They also had the obligatory light gun game to go with them; unfortunately one was more memorable than the other. Don't believe me? How about you go ahead and tell me what light gun game came with the Sega Master System? Hey! No cheating!!

The Style: For all intents and purposes, these two light guns are basically the same (which is why I'm reviewing them at the same time). Both guns are essentially the same size (the Master System Light Phazer is slightly larger than the NES Zapper) and they do a good job of resembling their respective game pads. It's worth noting that shortly after the Nintendo Entertainment System was release, Nintendo opted to change the color from grey to ... orange? That's right; you can find a lot of Zappers on the market that are a weird neon orange color, a quality that emphasizes that this is a toy and NOT a real gun. For what it's worth, the Sega probably would have done the same thing, however their 8-bit console didn't last long enough for this to be a factor.

This Duck Hunt-inspired lamp is awesome, but I still hate the orange Zapper!
What the 7 Year Old Me Would Say: Holy cow, dude. First you give me that cool control pad and now you're handing me a gun? Pow, pow, pow!! I love this thing. Do you hear that? There's a real clicking sound when I pull the trigger, how totally awesome is that? Now I can shoot all of those bad guys on my TV, just like Dirty Harry does in the movies. Go ahead punk, make my day! Oh my gosh, this is amazing. I love this gun. Oh, and this game is called Gumshoe, I bet this is going to be fun!

What I Would Say Now: I'll be honest; I'm not a big fan of the light gun. I'm not against guns or anything, but in the last thirty years the standard light gun game hasn't changed much. Duck Hunt works as a nice alternative to Super Mario Bros., but it's hardly the reason to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System. Unlike the standard NES control, I am actually a fan of the way the Zapper looks and feels. I could do without the neon orange color of the later light guns, but the fake plastic gun feels right in your hands and has a cool clicking sound that lets you know you actually did something. The Master System's Light Phazer does similar things, but it doesn't feel as sturdy and well put together. Plus, unlike the NES, the Master System didn't have that many strong light gun games. Still, there's a special place in my heart for both Nintendo and Sega's light guns, I just wish they would have stopped the madness right here.

The 8-Bit Light Gun Haiku:
Two light guns for me.
The neon orange is ugly.
Not enough gun games.


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