The Light Gun…I Miss You

The Light Gun…I Miss You

The light gun is something I miss quite dearly. Its time has come and gone and in its place we now have the likes of Playstation Move, Wii Motes and Kinect. But all of these lack a certain something. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but the modern day equivalents to the light gun seem to be missing the charm and feel of a true light gun. Of course, light guns showed their true worth in the days of the arcade with titles such as Time Crisis and House of the Dead. Both games offered a fantastic video game experience as well as the social aspect of a busy arcade.

 

Light gun games on consoles were a mixed bag, obviously the buzz of the packed arcade was detracted and the social aspect lowered, with games either feeling too light in content or just feeling rather dull to play. But there were some sparkling examples of games that made the cross over well, such as House of the Living Dead 2 on the Dreamcast, this was always a great game to pick up and play either solo or with friends. Its  unique co-op experience is under appreciated in today’s modern multiplayer formalities.

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Booting up House of the Living Dead 2 armed with my light gun is a memory I’ve always looked back on when talking about light guns and arcade shooters.  The game was a fantastic light gun experience that played just as well on the Dreamcast as it did in the arcade. The official Dreamcast light gun was nothing short of brilliant (the VMU unit added some nice little touches). It had a good weight to it, it was able to take punishment (rage throws to the floor after a cheap death) and was responsive.  Playing light gun games with Playstation Move and the Wii motes feels like a pale imitation. This isn’t to say the Move or the Wii doesn’t work or is particularly bad, they just feel rather soulless compared to using a brightly coloured light gun, which feels almost natural while playing the game.

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While light gun games are disappearing and/or are merged into the first person shooter genre (for example Killzone 3) it would be nice to see a little more activity in the genre.  There are of course the few bastions carrying the torch for light gun titles in today’s market, such as the fantastic House of the Dead: Overkill, but these games are far and few between. While the light gun is set to become something of a relic, and the genre either obsolete or merged into another genre, it should be remembered and treasured for being one of the most fun video game experiences to date. While the arcades have all but gone (in the UK anyway) and video games now strive towards motion control, I will always look back at the light gun with a sense of joy and regret. Joy for the great times I had with a light gun in my hand, be it in the arcade blasting zombies in House of the Dead with my father or playing the Dreamcast equivalent alone in my room, it was always fun to play.

The regret is that within a year or so light gun games will be all but gone; a mere relic of days gone by. While this realization is disheartening, I can rest in the knowledge that playing my light gun collection is merely a press of a button away.

 

 

Sean Halliday


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