Where's My Gun?


I have fond memories of pointing plastic guns at TV screens, rolling around the living room and doing my best impression of Bruce Willis. Unfortunately, these activities are now very much a thing of the past as I can’t remember the last time I wielded a light gun outside of an arcade. While the on-rails shooter has had a mini resurgence over the last few years, largely thanks to the Wii and PS Move, it is no longer the vital part of my gaming routine that it once was.

My first experience of a home console light gun was the Menacer for the Mega Drive (Genesis). It was far too large, much like Nintendo's Super Scope, and had to be assembled before use. My friend was the only person at school cool enough to own one - the rest of us played with sticks and pig bladders - and I remember us all piling into his bedroom to shoot criminals and keep cockroaches away from pizzas. It was our Vietnam and those bugs were ruthless in their quest for pepperoni.

As kids, my brother and I were never short of toy firearms - our parents were always very strict about not pointing toy guns at people, though they had little sympathy for the imaginary rotters we routinely shot to pieces - so we never had any need for TV blasting. When it came to video games, we were more than content playing Sonic, and Streets of Rage and Double Dragon provided all the virtual violence we needed. It wasn't until my early teens and the Sega Saturn that I finally got a light gun of my very own. 


The Saturn featured a quality selection of on-rail shooters, from Virtua Cop to House of the Dead, and for the first time it felt like the arcade had arrived in the home. Virtua Cop 2 remains my favourite on-rail shooter and the day it is ported to PSN will be the day that I finally run out of excuses for not buying a PS Move controller and sharpshooter. When I began rebuilding my Saturn collection in Japan, my first purchases were a pair of bright blue guns with Virtua Cop 1 and 2. I wasted no time in re-familiarising myself with the pop-up tendencies of Virtua City's criminal underworld, re-discovering the joys of the crotch shot and dual wielding the blue hand cannons like a badman.

My gun-slinging continued in the 90’s with the PlayStation, as I discovered Die Hard Trilogy and Time Crisis, but I haven’t bought a new light-gun since. HDTVs have ended my relationship with the on-rail shooters of yesteryear, being incompatible with the light guns of old which now gather dust in a box of unused peripherals, shoved between the Densha de Go stick and Trance Vibrator. It's not all doom and gloom though, as the Wii has done a pretty good job of keeping the genre alive with excellent games like Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, Darkside Chronicles, Dead Space Extraction and The House of the Dead Collection. Along with karaoke-sims, linear shooting galleries have been the Wii’s saving grace in our house, preventing me from packing it away for good. However, as much as I have enjoyed these games, I have never mistaken the Wii-mote for a light gun and not once has it dawned on me to upgrade with one of the unappealing, gun bolt-ons.

News that the House of the Dead series is coming to PSN has me hopeful for a Virtua Cop rerelease. It would compel me to buy a Move controller – if PixelJunk 4am doesn’t get there first – along with some sort of plastic machine gun, so that I can game like it were 1996, complete with pew-pew sounds and commando rolls. Hopefully I’ll remember to draw the curtains first.

Comments

  1. Never been a huge fan of lightgun games. They're fun for a couple rounds in an arcade, but every one I've played gets old quickly. I do wish we had more games like Sin and Punishment: Star Successor that gave the aiming of a lightgun game with a character to move. Love that game.

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    1. Never heard of Sin & Punishment. I can't imagine its easy to design a light gun game that also affords you control of the character. I will have to check it out.

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  2. I still want a Mad Max style light gun driving game. At least the Move finally gets a light gun off the rails, which is a huge step in the right direction.

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    1. I like the sound of a light gun driving game. Mad Max would make it even better. The car chase section of Virtua Cop 2 is probbaly my favourite part of that game, blowing tires and capping bad guys at speed.

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  3. Daydream Drooler19 March 2012 at 06:43

    Honestly kind of hate FPS's so you can imagine on rails FPS's are my worst enemies, lol. I did enjoy Dead Space Extraction though, couldn't stand having no control over the camera movement at all, probably what I hate most about on rails. ugh, just thinking about it makes me wanna throw the move at the TV, lol.anyway, I hope you get your rerelease of virtua cop on PSN but I'll be staying far away, lol. can't wait to hear your thought on ME3, I too look forward to a deep discussion about it.

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    1. Ha, doesn't sound like you are a big fan! I can understand why on-rail shooters aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I tend to enjoy them as arcade, throw-away fun.

      Definitely looking forward to discussing the ending of ME3. I just hope I get there before Bioware throw in the towel and change it!

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  4. was never really into shooting games growing up. that being said, i almost bought the ps move for time crisis as that was probably my favorite.

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    1. I enjoyed Time Crisis in the arcade, not as much at home.

      I think PixelJunk 4am may end up being the reason for me buying PS Move. It looks really interesting

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    2. still need to try out the pixel junk games. wish we got the same sale you did.

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  5. It was only on the Japan store, unfortunately. Otherwise I would have bought the lot!

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  6. I love Virtua Cop 1 and 2. My friends and I played that in the arcade all the time. It's also two of the games I made a point of getting for my Saturn. For some reason I didn't like House of the Dead or Time Crisis as much. House of the Dead didn't "feel" as good to me, and that little thin wire on the Guncon really annoyed me... I did enjoy playing the new House of the Dead game on the Wii though (I think it's called Overkill.). That was a blast!

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    1. I prefer Virtua Cop too. House of Dead was always really good fun, but it never felt quite as well designed as the VC games.
      If I ever end up with PS Move, Overkill would be one of the first titles I'd pick up. Looks like a lot of fun.

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