The Video Game Critic's

Light Gun
Review Special

Updated 5/12/2022

I've had a thing for light gun games dating back to Lethal Enforcers (Genesis, 1992). These arcadey, point-and-shoot titles have an appealing simplicity and can be thrilling when done right. As a collector of every major console I've accumulated quite the stockpile of these things over the years. I'd say it's time to put them to good use! For this special I will be evaluating each and every gun in the categories of style, accuracy, and comfort.

Light gun gaming is not for the faint of heart, at least not in 2022. They require an old-fashioned CRT-style TV just to work. In my experience you'll also need to crank up the brightness of the TV and darken the room. Finally, you'll need to experiment to determine the correct distance to sit for your shots to properly register. In the case of my 27" set, that distance is usually only three to five feet.

Should you manage to get a working set-up you'll get to enjoy the type arcade fun that's become a rare commodity these days. If you're looking for that kind of action, I hope this guide will help.


Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

I'm only aware of one light gun for the NES, but this controller is a classic if there ever was one.

NES Zapper

NES Zapper (1985)

The Zapper light gun was included with the original NES with the express purpose of making the system look like a toy. This was necessary because after the video game crash of 1983 toy stores were reluctant to stock video game systems. Nintendo's ploy worked like a charm.

Design: The Zapper resembles a ray gun from the old Flash Gordon serials. It's simple in design, lightweight, and surprisingly durable. There's only one button - the trigger - which makes a loud click when pulled. Without a start button, Zapper games require you plug a normal controller as well (to select the game), precluding the possibility of two-player action. The original Zapper was completely gray but Nintendo changed to a mostly-orange model in 1989.

Accuracy: I'm shocked how well this gun still works, especially without all the tedious calibrations and adjustments required by most modern light guns. Sitting at five or six feet it's very easy to shoot objects on the screen with a reasonable level of accuracy. Fortunately most of Nintendo's light gun games tend to be very forgiving.

Comfort: The plastic is smooth and molds right to your hand. The trigger however is pretty tight and makes a loud, resonating sound.

Extra Features: None.

Overall: This gun set the standard. The loud clicky trigger limits the Zapper to short play sessions, but you have to love its pick-up-and-play quality. C

Find NES Zapper Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

NES light gun games I have reviewed: Barker Bill's Trick Shooting, Chiller, Duck Hunt, Freedom Force, Gotcha: The Sport, Hogan's Alley, Operation Wolf, Wild Gunman

Sega Master System

Apparently if you released a video game console during the 1980s there was a law stating it had to be packaged with a light gun, so Sega dutifully complied. To my knowledge this was the only gun released for this system.

Sega Phaser

Sega Phaser (1986)

Design: The Phaser's all-black design harkens back to the days when kids were allowed to play with guns that vaguely looked like the real thing. Ahhh memories! This gun combines the streamlined design of the NES Zapper with the soft trigger of the Atari XG-1. Not bad!

Accuracy: Shots register well even when the brightness is low. Problem is, your shots will go slightly to the right, making it nearly impossible to hit anything along the left edge of the screen. Fortunately Sega Master System light gun games tend to be extremely forgiving, arcade-style experiences.

Comfort: The handle is a bit squarish but this may be the most comfortable trigger I've used.

Extra Features: None.

Overall: I love the look and feel of the Phaser but you really can't overstate the importance of accuracy. C+

Find Sega Phaser on eBay, Amazon

Sega Master System light gun games I have reviewed: Dead Angle, Gangster Town, Marksman Shooting/Trap Shooting, Missile Defense 3D, Rambo III, Rescue Mission, Safari Hunt, Shooting Gallery, Wanted

Atari

Atari produced a single light gun, packaged with their Atari XEGS console in 1987. The gun also works with several Atari 7800 target shooting games, and even an obscure Atari 2600 title called Sentinel (1990).

Atari XG-1 Light Gun

Atari XG-1 (1987)

It's ironic how three years after Atari rejected Nintendo's offer to distribute their Famicon (NES) console, Atari basically tried to blatantly copy Nintendo by packaging their new console with a light gun. The XG-1 even looks like Nintendo's Zapper. Sadly, it did not help Atari's cause.

Design: Though about the size and weight of the Zapper, the XG-1 is more detailed. It still looks like a science fiction laser gun, except maybe from the 1960s (the space age!) instead of the 1950s.

Accuracy: I feel like under the right conditions the accuracy of this gun is very good. Unfortunately many of Atari's game require a level of accuracy beyond its capabilties.

Comfort: I like the fact that the trigger has minimal "give", making it easy to fire repeatedly. The hand grip is more square than others, but still feels good.

Extra Features: None.

Overall: It's a good gun but Atari failed to properly capitalize upon it. B-

Find Atari XE Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Atari light gun games I have reviewed: Sentinel, Alien Brigade, Barnyard Blaster, Crossbow, Meltdown, Bug Hunt, Crime Buster, Operation Blood.

Sega Genesis

The Genesis had a pair of light guns totally unrelated and incompatible with each other. I assume the oversized Menacer was released to counter Nintendo's equally ridiculous Super Scope controller. Konami's Justifier was designed specifically for the home adaptation of their Lethal Enforcers arcade game.

Menacer disassembled Menacer assembled

Sega Menacer (1992)

Between its clunky appearance and cheesy name, it's clear the Menacer was just a knee-jerk reaction to Nintendo's bazooka-shaped Super Scope, designed for use with the T2 Arcade game. Not to be outdone, Sega released this oversized beast with attachments called the "stabilizer" and "binocular" modules. It's not easy to keep a straight face writing this stuff.

Even the manual is a joke. One diagram shows the Genesis sitting next to the included infrared receiver box on top of the television. Even in the old CRT days, there's no way somebody would play their Genesis while it was sitting on top of the TV! And those three unlabeled buttons along the front of the controller? The manual refers to those as "the front buttons". That's good to know!

Design: Talk about over-engineered! The actual "gun" part of the Menacer is called the "master module". It's pretty silly-looking with that big looped handle, and the six required AAA batteries add unwanted heft. It is fully functional by itself.

Since the gun is a bit on the heavy side, it's possible that the stabilizer attachment might come in handy for long playing sessions. It braces the gun against your chest to take a little pressure off the wrist. The binocular module however is a complete joke. First, who wants to squint through these two little holes for an entire game? It's not going to help your accuracy because the plastic aiming sight doesn't even line up with the reticle on the screen.

Accuracy: Since the Menacer comes with an infrared receiver that sits on your TV you would expect it to be accurate and it is. While playing T2 the crosshair is always on the screen and you can move it around in a smooth fashion. Still, it has a lot of trouble registering shots along the left edge of the screen. I'm disappointed the manual recommends cranking up the brightness to help rectify this.

Comfort: The rounded handle feels nice but the trigger is actually a little too soft. You just don't get any satisfying feedback while you pull it. It feels mushy.

Extra Features: I guess the extra parts can be considered features, except all they do is make you look like a complete ass.

Overall: It is fairly accurate, but I feel like this gun is less than the sum of its parts. It has to be, if only because there are so damn many of them! C-

Find Sega Menacer Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Justifier light guns

Konami Justifier (1993)

This gun worked surprisingly well, although of course it was tailored specifically to Konami's Lethal Enforcers series and only works with two games.

Design: This is the same shape as a kid's toy gun (circa 1975) but molded in blue plastic. A "player two" gun, sold separately, is pink in color.

Accuracy: Perhaps because it was designed specifically for Lethal Enforcers, The Justifier is remarkably responsive and accurate. In fact, I prefer it over the Playstation model.

Comfort: Since it's shaped like a toy this thing is supremely comfortable, and the soft trigger feels nice too.

Extra Features: Telephone-style jack on the bottom allows you to plug in a second gun for two-player shooting action.

Overall: A very solid gun with a very light selection of games. B+

Find Sega Genesis Justifer Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Sega Genesis gun games I have reviewed: Lethal Enforcers, Lethal Enforcers II: Gun Fighters, Menacer 6-in-1, T2: The Arcade Game

Super Nintendo

The light gun lineup for the Super Nintendo is virtually identical to that of the Sega Genesis. There's the Konami Justifier designed expressly for their Lethal Enforcers game, and the mammoth Super Scope designed for use with the Terminator 2 Arcade Game. The SNES does have a slightly better light gun game selection, but certainly nothing to write home about. These are for collectors and enthusiasts; casual gamers need not apply.

Super Scope Light Gun

Nintendo Super Scope (1992)

If you thought the Sega Menacer was a joke (and you're not wrong), wait until you get a load of the Super Scope. Oy! This may be the most poorly-designed controller in history. It's certainly the worst light gun I've ever used.

Design: Clearly designed to mimic the bazooka scene from the Terminator 2 film, this is one unwieldy monstrosity. It's nearly three feet in length and six AA batteries ensure it's heavy too. The rear section has a shoulder rest, and you'll need to use it. One hand goes on the front grip with the machine gun trigger, while you rest the fingers of your other hand on top of the gun, where you'll find a missile launch button.

There's a scope on the top, but squinting through that tiny hole for an entire game is not my idea of a good time. Worse yet, the T2 instructions explicitly tell you not to use it, as calibrating it will prevent you from hitting all parts of the screen. When a controller doesn't work well with the game it was specifically designed for, that's never a good sign.

Accuracy: I'd rate this a little worse than the Menacer. Not only does it have problems hitting the left edge, but even some shots toward the middle fail to register at times. Since the gun includes an infrared sensor (which you must place on top of your TV) you'd expect better.

Comfort: Holding this thing on your shoulder seems fairly natural at first but after a few minutes it becomes uncomfortable, and eventually debilitating. At one point I took it off my shoulder and tried to use it like a gun, but the weird button configuration prevents you from doing that.

Extra Features: I find it hard to characterize the scope and shoulder rest as "features". The scope functionality is dubious at best, and the shoulder rest is a necessary evil.

Overall: You might just be better off taking an actual bazooka and blowing up your TV. F

Find Nintendo Super Scope Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

SNES Justifier light guns

Konami Justifier (1993)

This gun works surprisingly well with Lethal Enforcers, but as far as I know it doesn't work with any other SNES game. My experience with it was the same as the Genesis version, which is generally good.

Design: This is the same shape as a kid's toy gun but molded in blue plastic.

Accuracy: The Justifier is surprisingly responsive and accurate.

Comfort: Supremely comfortable, and the soft trigger doesn't hurt either.

Extra Features: Telephone-style jack on the bottom allows you to plug in a second gun (pink in color) for two-player shooting action.

Overall: A solid piece of hardware with extremely limited usefulness. B

Find SNES Justifer Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Super Nintendo light gun games I have reviewed: Bazooka Blitzkrieg, Lethal Enforcers, Metal Combat, Super Scope 6, T2: The Arcade Game, Tinstar, Yoshi's Safari

Philips CD-i

Trying to play a light gun game on the Philips CD-i is a real pain in the ass. My model CD-i has its primary controller port on the back of the system, mixed in with all the video ports. Worse yet, the wire you plug in goes to an infrared box you need to set on your TV. A long wire comes out of that connecting the gun. All these wires running all over the place are a disaster waiting to happen.

Philips Light Gun

Philips Peacekeeper Revolver (1994)

Design: The same shape as the 3DO model, this is a toy cowboy gun molded in dark blue plastic. As I mentioned before, the wires are a real birdsnest. You'll really need to be in the mood for some target shooting to go through this much trouble.

Accuracy: Also like the 3DO gun, I like how I can hit all parts of the screen with no problem. When I can see the reticle however I noticed it has a tendency to lag slightly as I move it around the screen.

Comfort: As long as you don't yank the infrared box off your TV, this gun is just fine. I like the soft, clicky trigger.

Extra Features: This one has two buttons, but one is on/off. Why would that be necessary? All it does is cause confusion!

Overall: This controller serves its purpose but I wish it didn't have to be such a project. C+

Find Philips Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Philips CD-i light gun games I have reviewed: Mad Dog McCree, Thunder in Paradise

3DO

Light guns are pretty rare for the 3DO so I feel lucky to own one. The American GameGun is similar to Konami's Justifier for the Sega Genesis, only orange in color. The 3DO didn't have many good light gun games, but the gun itself isn't half bad.

3DO light gun

American GameGun (1994)

Design: You really can't beat the basic toy gun design, and the orange color ensures people won't go around robbing banks with it.

Accuracy: I am shocked at how accurate this is. Every shot will register, even along the edges of the screen. The precision is more than respectable.

Comfort: This is very lightweight and comfortable. The trigger is easy to pull, making a soft click.

Extra Features: I didn't even think this had a start button until I saw that tiny black dot on the left side. Were they trying to hide it?

Overall: With no extra wires or set up required, this is a pleasant surprise. B+

Find 3DO Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

3DO light gun games I have reviewed: Corpse Killer, Crime Patrol, Drugs Wars, Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold, Mad Dog McCree

Sega Saturn

Sega produced one gun for the Saturn called the Stunner, and it's remarkably good. In fact, the idea of buying a different light gun for the system never even crossed my mind.

Sega Stunner

Sega Stunner (1995)

How did Sega do it? Their Saturn Stunner is extremely well-constructed. No need to crank up the brightness on your TV. You don't need to calibrate. No extra wires to fiddle with. The Stunner just works, and it's exceptionally accurate to boot! There may be other guns available for the Saturn, but no way could they top this.

Design: The Stunner has a bit more heft than your garden variety light gun, making it feel high-quality. Its chunky-yet-clean orange exterior is also appealing.

Accuracy: This thing is so accurate only the Guncon for the PS1 can compare, and that one required an extra wire.

Comfort: Molds to your hands nicely and the trigger feels very soft, with no annoying click.

Extra Features: None.

Overall: Pound for pound, probably the greatest light gun ever produced. A

Find Sega Stunner Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Sega Saturn light gun games I have reviewed: Area 51, Crypt Killer, House of the Dead, Maximum Force, Scud the Assassion, Virtua Cop, Virtua Cop 2

Sony Playstation One

Playstation light guns were mediocre until Namco stepped in with their patented "Guncon" technology. Instead of simply plugging into the controller jack, these guns had an extra yellow RCA wire that intercepted the video signal headed to the television, provided remarkably accurate aiming precision.

Konami Justifier

Konami Justifier (1996)

As one of the first light guns available for the system, the Justifier was designed for Konami's arcade-style titles like Crypt Killer and Lethal Enforcers.

Design: Nothing screams "not a real gun" like that bright lime green color. There is something very alluring about it however. It looks like a toy, and toys are fun.

Accuracy: Be prepared to crank up the brightness tinker with the gun calibration screen. Even then the results are hit-or-miss, especially near the edges of the screen.

Comfort: Very comfortable and I love the "soft" trigger which doesn't make a loud click like most light guns.

Extra Features: None, but I appreciate the simplicity. Sometimes extra buttons and levers just get in the way.

Overall: Serviceable but not particularly accurate. C+

Find Konami Justifier Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Naki Lunar Lightgun

Naki Lunar Gray Light Gun (1996)

This came out on the heels of the Justifier and also had a laser site attachment (sold separately). It didn't work very well and was very gimmicky.

Design: Except for the dull gray color, practically identical to the Konami Justifier.

Accuracy: Like the Justifier, satisfactory under the best conditions.

Comfort: Trigger is slightly "harder" than the Justifier.

Extra Features: Laser attachment sold separately.

Overall: Decent alternative to the Justifier. C

Find Naki Lunar Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Namco Guncon Lightgun

Namco Guncon (1997)

The early days of light guns were like the Wild West, but then Namco changed all that. Instead of flashing the screen to register the shot location, the Guncon have an extra wire that is tapped into the video jack, somehow letting the game know exactly where you were aimed. The downside however is that the gun only works with games that offer explicit Guncon support.

Design: While it looks similar to the Justifier, I like how the large A and B buttons are placed prominently on the barrel, making them easy to access. The construction feels sturdy but take care not to crimp that thin extra wire.

Accuracy: Superb. You can even hit tiny targets in the distance, homing in on them by making fine adjustments to your aim.

Comfort: Outstanding. Molds to your hand and trigger has a soft but audible click.

Extra Features: Extra wire plugs into yellow video jack to facilitate pinpoint accuracy.

Overall: Outstanding. Too bad it doesn't work with all Playstation light gun titles. A

Find Namco Guncon on eBay, Amazon

Blaze Scorpion Lightgun

Blaze Scorpion (199?)

This was a late-arriving third-party product that's remarkably versatile. It's hard to nail down the year however, as this same model was released by various distributers under other names like The Panther.

Design: This gun molds to your hand perfectly and is practically weightless. The Scorpion also looks like a real handgun! If not for the orange ring at the end of the barrel, you could probably rob a liquor store with this, but please don't.

Accuracy: This was released after Namco's Guncon so it has an extra yellow wire with an RCA jack making it Guncon-compatible. You know the gun is going to kick ass in Guncon mode, but it's surprisingly good even with non-Guncon titles. I was pleasantly surprised to use this with Judge Dredd with no calibration required.

Comfort: Tiny and lightweight. The trigger doesn't have much range, making it easy to fire repeatedly.

Extra Features: Buttons on the side offer auto-reload and Guncon mode.

Overall: Surprisingly functional, this is the only gun I know of that works with every PS1 light gun title. B+

Find Blaze Scorpion Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Playstation One light gun titles I have reviewed: Lethal Enforcers, Crypt Killer, Area 51, Maximum Force, Point Blank 1-3, Time Crisis, Time Crisis Project Titan, Judge Dredd, Die Hard Trilogy 1 & 2, Elemental Gearbolt, Project Horned Owl, Gunfighters: The Legend of Jesse James

Sega Dreamcast

The Dreamcast has a sordid light gun history. The system was released in September of 1999, just five months after the Columbine massacre. Despite having an exceptional light gun title ready at launch (House of the Dead 2) Sega opted not to release their gun in America to avoid controversy. Two guns available from third-parties proved marginal at best. The official Japanese Sega Dreamcast gun does not work with American games. Especially considering how well the Stunner gun worked on the Saturn, it's a shame Sega couldn't leverage their light gun expertise for their final console.

Namco Guncon Lightgun

Mad Catz Dream Blaster (1999)

This somehow became the default Dreamcast light gun in the States, and while serviceable for the time it was never anything to write home about.

Design: The Dream Blaster resembles a phaser from Star Trek. When you fire there are "running lights" across the top that illuminate. Pretty neat.

Accuracy: This gun was never particularly accurate - especially when it came to hitting the edges of the screen. Fortunately in most light gun games the action tends to gravitate towards the center. It was okay back in the day but now it no longer works. Perhaps there's a component inside that has degraded?

Comfort: Compact in size, the trigger has a satisfying click and the directional knob is easily accessible with your thumb on the back.

Extra Features: Switches let you configure auto-fire and auto-reload.

Overall: What can I say? This gun no longer works, and I can't imagine it's only mine. Buy this one and you're rolling the dice. F

Find Mad Catz Dream Blaster Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Interact Starfire Lightgun

Interact Starfire Lightblaster (1999)

Since the Mad Catz gun could be hard to locate back in the day the Starfire proved to be a popular alternative. It looked much different but delivered the same functionality.

Design: This is a clunky, front-heavy beast.

Accuracy: It once offered an adequate experience, but like the Mad Catz, this no longer functions.

Comfort: The trigger is easy to pull, and across from that is a reload trigger you can poke with your finger. Still, I find it easier just to shoot off-screen.

Extra Features: There's a handy directional pad on the side, along with big spongy blue buttons for Start and B. There are switches for auto-fire and auto-reload.

Overall: Again, once a C but now I wouldn't risk buying one of these. F

Find Interact Starfire Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Pelican Stinger Lightgun

Pelican Stinger (2001)

I'm pretty sure my friend Sudz gave me this for my birthday way back when. It was packaged with that weird Death Crimson game. I'm happy to report this remains functional after all these years. In fact I recently picked up a second one to ensure I could still play House of the Dead 2 alongside a friend.

Design: With its handle forming a loop, this looks like the type of weapon you'd find in Halo. The trigger is nice and soft, but that reload trigger isn't very practical.

Accuracy: A bit spotty, and hitting the edges of the screen can be iffy.

Comfort: This gun feels comfortable and light with an easy-to-pull trigger.

Extra Features: In addition to the typical auto-fire and auto-reload options, this gun also has a "jolt" switch that doesn't seem to do anything at all.

Overall: Perhaps the only viable option for American Dreamcast owners. C+

Find Pelican Stinger Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Dreamcast light gun games I have reviewd: House of the Dead 2, Confidential Mission, Death Crimson OX


Sony Playstation 2

There were a variety of guns available for the Playstation 1, but Namco's Guncon 2 was really the only game in town when it came to PS2 light guns.

Guncon 2 Light gun

Namco Guncon 2 Light Gun (2001)

You've got to love this gun. It's one of the few that lets you pick off small targets in the distance with pinpoint accuracy. That said, I can't say with confidence this is any better than the original Guncon.

Design: This one is entirely orange and more compact than the original Guncon. Instead of a thin extra wire running to the video output, this one has a single thick wire running to the console that splits at the end into a USB connector and a yellow RCA plug. An RCA extender wire is included so you can more easily connect the yellow wire to your video input. I use a special PS2 AV out adapter that exposes the yellow, red, and white RCA jacks just behind the system. While not trivial to set up, the Guncon 2 delivers an exceptionally good light gun experience.

This gun has four buttons besides the trigger, but they tend to blend in and their tiny labels are nearly impossible to read. There's a directional pad on the back and reload button on the bottom of the handle, which are also very easy to miss!

Accuracy: As I mentioned before, the accuracy is excellent, but it may still be necessary to crank up the brightness for it to register shots in the corners.

Comfort: The Guncon 2 has a little heft but it's very well-balanced. The trigger is a bit fatter than usual but extremely comfortable.

Extra Features: None.

Overall: The buttons are hard to see and set-up can be a pain. Once you finally get up and running however you'll be happy. A

Find Namco Guncon 2 Light Gun on eBay, Amazon

Unknown PS2 Lightgun

Unknown Guncon 2 Knock-Off (200?)

I'm including this one for posterity. It's one of those cheap knock-offs I picked up on some liquidation site about 20 years ago. I can't even figure out what brand it is! It doesn't work very well but I have to give the thing credit for its overabundance of buttons, switches, and superfluous features. It's almost comical. And oh yeah it doesn't work.

Design: Though practically identical in shape to Namco's Guncon 2, this looks cheaply constructed and comes in a washed-out shade of orange. The cord has three plugs: a controller plug, a USB connector, and a yellow RCA wire.

Accuracy: If you're shooting at things near the center of the screen, you're fine. If you want to reach the edges, you're in trouble. I couldn't even navigate the Time Crisis 2 menus with this.

Comfort: The angular handle doesn't mold to your hand very well and the trigger is super tight.

Extra Features: In addition to all the standard buttons, there's a slider on each side of the gun. One provides four auto-fire/auto-reload configurations. The other lets you select between three modes: Guncon, Guncon 2, and the mysterious "Norcon". I tried the normal Guncon more with a PS1 game and it didn't even work.

Last but not least, this thing has a freaking laser sight on the front, along with dials to coordinate it with your screen. I've said it before and I'll say it again, these things are not worth messing with. At least there's a button to turn it off (as if this thing needed more buttons).

Overall: You can pile on all the features in the world but they don't mean a thing without a working trigger. F

Find Guncon 2 knock-off on eBay, Amazon

Playstation Two light gun titles I have reviewed: Dino Stalker, Endgame, Ninja Assault, Resident Evil Dead Aim, Starsky and Hutch, Time Crisis 2, Time Crisis 3, Time Crisis: Crisis Zone, Vampire Night


Microsoft Xbox

When a new generation of systems come out, you expect the associated technology to be improved. When it comes to light guns however, that is often not the case. Need proof? Read on...

MadCatz Blaster for Xbox

MadCatz Blaster (2002)

I remember how excited I was when House of the Dead III was released as an Xbox exclusive. Microsoft didn't have its own light gun so the only option was the MadCatz Blaster. I was very disappointed to discover it wasn't any better than my mediocre Dreamcast guns.

Design: I have to admit I like this elaborate, cool-looking design. It's mainly green but there are molded black parts as well. It looks front-heavy but it doesn't feel that way. All the necessary buttons (and then some) are spread throughout the gun and clearly marked. The gun plugs directly into the Xbox with no extra wires to worry about.

Accuracy: Herein lies the rub. You'll need to crank up the brightness on your TV to eleven if you expect shots near the edge to register. And even then the reticle has a tendency to waver as you move it around the calibration screen. This gun is not very precise.

Comfort: The trigger has just the right amount of "click", but the reload button on the handle is in an awkward spot. It's also unnecessary as most gamers are content to shoot offscreen to reload.

Special Features: The magazine cleverly accepts a memory card, although there's little point when you have a hard disc.

Overall: Not exceptional but well-constructed and gets the job done. C+

Find MadCatz Blaster on eBay, Amazon

Cypher gun for Xbox

Cypher Light Gun (200?)

I wanted to love this gun but couldn't get it to work! I'm going to chalk it up to cheap components, combined with the fact it's been sitting in the bottom of my closet for the last 15 years.

Design: I love the sleek shape of this one with its black/green color scheme. The buttons really stand out and are easy to press. All except one: the trigger. Maybe this thing worked at one time, but now it won't register unless you pull it really, really hard. I mean, you practically have to break the thing.

Accuracy: Seems to be pretty good judging by moving the reticle around a calibration screen.

Comfort: The gun feels great in general.

Special features: There's a slider on the side with auto-fire, auto-reload, and kick-back settings.

Overall: This could have been great but it couldn't pass the test of time. A light gun isn't much fun without a working trigger. F

Find Xbox Cypher Gun on eBay, Amazon

Yobo gun for Xbox

Hais/Yobo Gameware Wireless Light Gun (200?)

While working on this light gun special I found myself perusing Ebay and stumbled upon this wireless Xbox light gun for $20 - new in box! With my Cypher gun out of commission I thought this might be a good backup. The good news is, the wireless works. The bad news is, the gun just as erratic as some of the worst wired light guns I've used.

Design: This is one handsome piece of hardware. The black molding looks sharp with a rubber green grip on the handle. The buttons are easy-to-reach and well-defined.

Accuracy: You have to wonder if all the wireless technology in my house my be interfering with this device. I say that because especially on the calibration screens the precision is erratic. You might get off two or three accurate shots, followed by another that's way off. You also need to sit very close to the TV (two to three feet away).

Comfort: Very light and well-balanced. The trigger feels good. Large A and B buttons are easy to press during play.

Special features: Besides the wireless feature, switches provide burst and auto-reload functions. The receiver unit that plugs into the console has a port for a memory card.

Overall: For a game like House of the Dead 3 this will suffice as a backup/player-two gun. But don't even attempt to use this with a precision title like Silent Scope. D

Find Xbox Wireless Gun on eBay, Amazon

Super Scope for Xbox Full Super Scope for Xbox

Konami Silent Scope Light Rifle (2004)

Wowowow. This thing came with Silent Scope Complete, and it is a beast. Not only does it exceed the Sega Menacer and Nintendo Super Scope in terms of size, but it has some serious heft as well! That's without its three optional attachments, and it doesn't take batteries.

Design: Where to begin? The base gun module works fine on its own, but you'll need to hold it like a rifle since the front is heavy. You can just slide the barrel to reload, which is good because this isn't the kind of thing you can just wave around.

Once you start adding the extra parts like the extended barrel, the stock, and the scope, things start to get a little silly. All told, when fully assembled this thing is literally a yard long. To be honest, unless you're looking for some kind of ultra-realistic sniper experience, you're better off leaving them off.

The green and black color scheme looks amazing and you can tell the construction is high grade. Only one wire runs to the system. One strange feature is a little nub near your left thumb which turns out to be the directional stick. Considering its awkward location it works surprisingly well.

Accuracy: While it would appear to be more accurate than the MadCatz, that may have something to do with the fact that you tend to move it slower, making the reticle easier to track. Keep in mind this was designed to work with the Silent Scope line of games which require precision aiming with finely-tuned adjustments. Even so, the crosshair still tends to waver and can momentarily get "stuck" on occasion.

Comfort: When you first hold this thing with two hands it feels like raw power! The characters in House of the Dead III are armed with shotguns so it makes sense to play it with this gun. During extended play however your arms will become fatigued. You may even find yourself changing positions just so you can rest your arms a bit.

Extra features: Extra switches enable kickback, auto-reload, and "burst" modes. There's even a mechanism that causes the gun to zoom when you look into the scope (Silent Scope games only), but I found this really finicky and not worth messing around with.

Overall: The entire setup is ludicrous, but it works well for what it's designed for, which is short arcade-style games. B-

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Xbox gun titles I have reviewed: House of the Dead III, Silent Scope Complete

Nintendo Wii

The Nintendo Wii kind of "backed into" the light gun arena. While the Wiimote didn't seem like light gun material, it had the perfect point-and-click functionality to make that leap. Much like the Wii "steering wheels", they just need a gun-shaped plastic shell. It may be stretching the term "light gun", but they outperformed many "real" light guns.

Wii Zapper

Wii Zapper (2007)

Design: The manner is which you slide the controllers into this and hide the wires is fairly ingenius. Still, the fact that it's just a single white piece of plastic makes you wonder what you just paid for. It is a little bit of a project putting everything together, and the resulting controller requires two hands.

Comfort: Excellent thanks to the smooth plastic and compact shape.

Accuracy: There seems like a slight lag tracking the reticle across the screen, but in general very precise.

Extra features: None.

Overall: "I can't believe it's not a light gun!" A-

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Perfect Shot

Nyko Perfect Shot (2007)

Design: It may not be perfect shot but this third-party entry feels good. You need to use one of the short (original) Wiimotes with this, and you'll need to remove its strap. The Perfect Shot to very simple and compact. I also like the bright white and blue colors.

Comfort: A little front-heavy might make you want to support with second hand. Nice trigger.

Accuracy: Equal to the Wii Zapper, which means "pretty terrific".

Extra None.

Overall: B

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Wii gun titles I have reviewed: Attack of the Movies 3D, Dead Space Extraction, Dino Strike, Ghost Squad, Goldeneye 007, Gunblade NY & LA Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack, House of the Dead 2 and 3 Return, House of the Dead Overkill, Jurassic: The Hunted, Link's Crossbow Training, Mad Dog McCree Gunslinger Pack, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

Playstation 3

With light guns slowly becoming an endangered species, I was glad to see their usage did at least extend into the Playstation 3 era. It was really the last generation to support them, which is sad.

Guncon 3

Namco Guncon 3 (2007)

Since traditional light gun technology did not work on HDTVs, Namco was forced to devise a new technology for their Guncon 3. Their approach was to drape two sensors over the top corners of your TV, connected to your PS3 via USB port. It's really not very hard to set up, as the sensors have rubber counterweights, so they stay put without having to phyiscally attach anything.

Design: The Guncon 3 looks pretty much identical to the Guncon 2, right down to the solid orange color that causes the buttons to blend in. However this gun has what appears to be the left half of a controller extrudes from the front left of the gun. It gives you something to hold on to and works well for games with "duck and cover" gameplay. It also facilitates a dual-thumbstick capability, as there is a second thumbstick on the back of the gun.

It should be noted that if you want to plug in a pair of these, you may find yourself running out of USB ports on your PS2, necessitating a USB hub. These hubs are cheap and easy to acquire, but they further complicate an already busy set-up.

Accuracy: Not only is this gun super accurate, but I can sit as far as 15 feet away and it still works great.

Comfort: The gun is perfectly comfortable. At first I had an issue with the soft "take cover" button on the front, but since you need to hold it so much, it feels about right.

Special Features: The dual thumbsticks makes it possible to actually navigate stages on your own, a feature utilized in the story modes of both Time Crisis games for the PS3. Unfortunately, it makes for a pretty cumbersome experience that's not nearly as fun as the traditional auto-movement.

The Games: Namco released two physical media discs to support these guns. One is Time Crisis 4, and the other is a compilation of Time Crisis 4 (Arcade edition), Time Crisis: Razing Storm, and Deadstorm Pirates. Though it has the feel of a tossed-in bonus game, the pirates title is arguable the best of the bunch.

Overall: Realistically I don't think any light gun could top this one. It's just a shame so few games took advantage of it. A+

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Sony Sharp Shooter

Sony Move Sharp Shooter (2011)

As ill-conceived and unnecessary as Sony's Move line of controllers were, I've always conceded that these motion controllers are super accurate. They are far more accurate in detecting movement than Kinect, and when it comes to using them as a screen pointer, they easily beat the Wiimote.

Design: The construction is sound. A Move controller clicks into the barrel, giving it that goofy ice-cream cone appearance at the end. You can hold the Sharp Shooter in multiple ways and the extendible stabilizer works well. If you need a thumbstick control, the Move navigation controller also fits into the front.

Accuracy: I've never seen a reticle track across the screen so smoothly. It really doesn't get any more accurate than this. Wow.

Comfort: Once secured under your arm, this gun is very comfortable. The trigger feels soft but not too soft. I guess the only downside is you need to use both arms to hold it.

Extra features: Being able to slide the barrel back to reload is a nice touch. There seem to be a few extra switches along the side but I don't know what they do. I don't even think this came with a manual.

The Games: I attempted to play Resistance 3 with this, but it didn't work, telling me to press buttons I could not reach. The only games I could use this with was The Shoot and House of the Dead Overkill. Not a very impressive lineup!

Overall: Once everything is set up (including the Move camera on top of your TV), this gun is pretty awesome. Too bad there aren't more games to use it on. A

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Playstation 3 gun titles I have reviewed: House of the Dead Overkill, Killzone 3, The Shoot, Time Crisis 4, Time Crisis: Razing Storm, Area 51, Deadstorm Pirates
The End

Light Gun pile