Before digital dismembered hands held guns aimed at cacodemons, we held the guns ourselves and aimed them at our screens. Well… fake guns anyway. The Zapper for the NES was a neat little novelty that came with the NES. The novelty did fade though, and Zapper support soon faded away. Games like Operation Wolf and The Adventures of Bayou Billy would have support, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Zapper alive. But with the SNES, Nintendo sought to make a peripheral better than the Zapper. It would be bigger, use an IR sensor in conjunction with cathode rays, and best of all, it was wireless. Ladies and gentlemen, the Super Scope after the jump.
Bigger System, Bigger Gun
As was said in the opening paragraph, support for the Zapper faded away during the NES era. Oddly enough, Nintendo decided to revisit the light-gun idea after the market for it pretty much faded away. The result was the Super Scope. Released in the U.S. for the SNES in 1992 along with the pack in game, Super Scope 6, the Super Scope was a beast of a gun. Unlike the Zapper’s pistol like feel and appearance, the Super Scope was pretty much a bazooka. You held it over your shoulder and you would look through an eyepiece to aim. One advantage the Super Scope had over the Zapper was that it was wireless… for the most part. The gun itself was wireless, utilizing 6 AA batteries to function. But the IR sensor for the gun had to be plugged into the 1P controller port of the SNES via a standard controller cord. The shape of the IR sensor was not the best as it would slip off the top of the TV because of the cord pulling on it. And we’re talking about CRT TVs at the time, not the flat ones of today. Including Super Scope 6, only 11 games were made that supported it.
I’m probably not that this has happened to. It’s pretty hilarious in hindsight. One day my mom decides to get me two games. I think it was for my birthday or Christmas or something. On of the two games was Terminator 2: Judgement Day (ohhh we’ll get to this game one day). The other game was Battle Clash. I looked at the cartridge (I had no box for it) and saw that is said “Super Scope” on it. I thought it was really just a feature in the game itself, like the Super FX chip for Star Fox. When I popped the game in and get to the title screen, it said in flashing letters, “Shoot Screen.” I’m here just thinking it’s just for style like “Hey man, press the start button!” or “Press a button to begin your journey.” I soon discovered that this was not for style, it was a function… of an item I did not have. I pressed all the buttons to see if I could get past the title screen. I did. It took me to the Super Scope’s calibration screen. I was stuck. I kept pressing buttons to get to the next part. I eventually made it to a map displaying where the battle would take place. But pressing buttons here took me back to the title screen. I soon realized that I needed a light gun to play this game. I tried using the NES Zapper on the screen (with the NES and SNES on) to see if it worked. Hey, I was a kid then! A dumb, slightly frugal but inquisitive kid. It was time to tell my mom the bad news.
“I Need Something Called a Super Scope”
That’s what I told my mom when I told her that I can’t play the game. I showed her the problem and she agreed. However, we weren’t really in the market to get anything else for game related at the time, so I had to make due with the games I got. We didn’t sell the game back though. She said, “eh, maybe someday we’ll find one.” I was bummed, but it was cool. I still had other games to play anyway. I think about 2-3 years later we came across a Super Scope in Funcoland. By now the N64 and Playstation were all the rage and Funcoland was clearing their stock of 16-bit consoles, games and accessories. I told my mom they had a Super Scope. She came over and was intrigued. “This is it?” she said. I’d lost interest in the Super Scope ever since I couldn’t play Battle Clash. But here it was. My mom asked the clerk how much the Super Scope was. “15 dollars.” Wow! 15 bucks for a Super Scope! My mom asked me if I had a game for it, and I reminded her that I had Battle Clash for it. The clerk was willing to also give us a used copy of Yoshi’s Safari for $10. We jumped the deal and got both the Super Scope and Yoshi’s Safari.
Only Two Games For Me
These two games are going to get their own Retro Weekend articles in the future. So I’ll talk about them briefly here.
Battle Clash a mech combat game where your fought other mechs (called STs, of Standing Tanks). In battle, the ST you piloted moved on its own as it followed the enemy mech. Movement was secluded to a 2D plane, but some enemies were really fast. Since your were in the ST, the view was from the cockpit, thus in first-person. Every battle was a boss battle. To win, you simply drained them of their life bar. When depleted, you won and went to the next battle.
The other game I had was Yoshi’s Safari. This was a rail shooter in which you, as Mario with a Super Scope, rode on Yoshi. Enemies would come your way and attack you. If they got too close they hurt Yoshi. Hurt him enough and you lost a life. Lose all your lives, and it’s game over. You’d sometimes face midbosses in the middle of the trek in a stage, and an end-level boss (one of the Koopalings). This was one of the first instances of the Mushroom Kingdom princess being referred to as Peach (instead of her masculine-as-hell sounding Toadstool name).
Oh dear. This section. Get ready guys, this is gonna be heartbreaking for some of you. Well, after I stopped playing the SNES and its games and moved on to the Playstation, lots of neglect started occurring with the SNES. With the Super Scope, since I had no real place to put the huge thing, I started losing pieces to it like the eyepiece, the cylinder, and the sight. The IR sensor was everywhere. and Super Scope itself was thrown around. Heading into my teen years, I would place it in my closet and leave it there. But the pieces were still out. Those… eventually became lost. A paint job from the super and his assistant saw my Super Scope covered in tiny droplets of paint. Come the returning to my original bedroom from when the family first moved here in 1994, I forgot where I put the Super Scope. I thought I threw it out.
This past December I had to clear out a space near the heater so that the Super’s son could cover up a hole that formed in the ceiling. Upon taking all that crap out, I found… The Super Scope itself! All this time I thought it was in the Freshkills Landfill when it was actually melting away from the heat of the steam. I showed my mom and she was like “Oh shit! Where’d you find it?” “Next to the steam” I told her. “Diantre! Does it still work?” I tell her “I doubt it. The insides must be shit now. And ain’t no way in hell I’m putting a battery in there.” She tells me I should hold onto it as a memento. I probably should. I already did to two games I have that don’t work anymore.
After the Super Scope, the only company to really bother with lightguns again was Namco with their Guncon. The genre that most supported lightguns, the Rail Shooter, fell by the wayside and were secluded to the then dying arcades. To make matters worse for lightguns, the HDTVs of today make it impossible to use lightguns. But there’s hope. The Wii and Playstation Move have returned the concept of lightguns, and the shells themselves are optional since all you really need are the controllers. The market for lightguns might be small today, but it’s at least a little more accessible now for anyone that wants to shoot some zombies and hear “RELOAD” every five seconds. And the legacy of the Super Scope lives on as one of the most useful items in the Super Smash Bros. series.