Take a quick look around your room. What do you see? Besides your furniture, consoles, games, and television you may notice a plethora of game controllers. How about a dusty Wii Zapper? Perhaps a couple bulky plastic guitars? A cumbersome drum kit? There is evidence in your domicile that plastic pistols and replica rifles are being sorely neglected in the technologically advancing world of video games. This is a call to artificial arms.
Do you remember the first time you played Time Crisis in the arcade? Laying your hands on the weighty light gun and feeling the realistic recoil as the hammer slid back with each shot was an immersive experience. I’m sure you wished you could bring the toy gun home, outside the wiles of quarters and tokens.
Time passed and Namco released the GunCon, which allowed us to finally bring home the most engrossing light gun experience since Duck Hunt. However, the standard television you played it on probably wasn’t big enough to make the experience arcade authentic, and light gun games like Time Crisis weren’t exactly known for their engrossing story or innovative gameplay variety. It was simply fun to point and shoot.
When the Nintendo Wii launched, everyone clamored over the possibilities of future FPSs taking advantage of the motion sensor technology. A couple Call of Duty‘s and a Red Steel later, and we’re still waiting for a truly unique Wii shooter. The Wii Zapper was a joke, sheathing the already gun-like Wiimote in awkward armor. Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles is perhaps the best light gun game we’ve seen this generation, but it’s more of a shoot-from-the-hip affair than a true test of accuracy that has you lining up a shot through the sights
If the Wii is unable to provide a decent light gun experience utilizing the tech of the Wiimote, then perhaps it’s time for a new peripheral. You’re probably groaning and rolling your eyes at the thought of hoarding away another fake piece of equipment, but hear me out. Imagine pulling a sleek black case from underneath your couch. You open it, and assemble the stock, barrel, and body of a synthetic sniper rifle. You then either lay prone on your bed or prop the weapon up on the back of your couch, aiming carefully at your HD television. Imagine replaying updated versions of Silent Scope in your own room, or playing a new entry in the Metal Gear Solid series which makes use of a fully realized sniper rifle.
Perhaps long range marksmanship isn’t your thing. Remove the barrel extension and stock, leaving only a pistol sized controller in your hands. Worried about being forced to play another on rails shooter? Pull out the in-package holster and secure the light gun at your side. Then pick up your PS3 or 360 controller and navigate your onscreen character. When you’re suddenly ambushed, you’re given a brief window of opportunity to un-hostler your light gun and take aim at the screen.
These suggestions may seem very simple, but the technology exists to make it happen. Everything except the consoles themselves is wireless these days, so a tangle-free arsenal is absolutely possible. The only real issue is that of physical storage space. Retailers would dread having to find room for another Rock Band-sized product on their shelves, so embracing the compact design I described would be ideal.
If talented developers could have advance access to the peripheral, the possibilities for truly interactive games would be endless. How many times have you found yourself controlling your character with a single hand while you scratched your nose? A talented game maker could expand on this technique and allow you to deftly maneuver your avatar and fire at enemies simultaneously when in a pinch. On the other end of the spectrum, slower paced games like Resident Evil 4 and Silent Hill, which already feature decreased movement during combat, could seamlessly integrate the concept of slowing down and readying your weapon. Imagine the tension that could result from frantically reaching for your holstered light gun as a zombie draws near, only to accidently fumble with it and almost be killed. Resident Evil: Dead Aim for the PS2 is the closest I’ve seen to a game like this, but is hardly an ideal example.
Much credit to my musing on this subject must be paid to Destructoid’s Anthony Burch for his recent “Rev Rant” episode about the untapped potential of Snatcher. I have been imagining clever and intuitive ways to use light guns with games ever since playing rounds of Duck Hunt with the Nintendo Zapper tucked in my belt, forcing me to quick draw when the game started. Yeah, I thought it was fun then… and it could be amazing now.
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