Super Nintendo Light Gun Games and First Person Shooters

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Presented by Ack

Perhaps its not surprising that both the Light Gun and First Person Shooter genre never really took off on Nintendo’s second console.  Considering their tight hold on product and their emphasis on censorship, Nintendo’s attitude towards some of the more extreme material in these games was either to cut it or ban it, sometimes with very odd results.  This is the generation where the “Nintendo makes kiddy consoles” argument really began to take hold, following an ad campaign by Nintendo’s biggest competitor at the time, Sega, to show the Genesis (or Megadrive, depending on the region) as the cool choice for an older audience.  And in their blood-thirsty arguments, the two would find themselves thrown up before the United States Senate over violence in video games, where Nintendo looked to be doing well…until Sega pulled out Nintendo’s Super Scope as an exhibit.  From there it was all bets off, and while FPS titles would became an important part of the Nintendo 64 collection, light gun games would be conspicuously absent from Nintendo’s lineup for the next two console generations.

But despite Nintendo’s heavy-handed methods, both Light Gun Games and First Person Shooters would appear on their second console.  It would be a strange transition period for both, as the light gun titles would never gain the popularity they had with the NES Zapper, and the FPS titles would be overshadowed by their PC counterparts and their successors on the Nintendo 64.  But they are there.  In some cases they are vastly different from the material they’re based on, but they’re there, and they’re worth checking out.

Light Gun Games

The Super Scope would be the official light gun for the Super Nintendo.  It resembled a bazooka, including a forward grip and a pad for the shoulder, as well as a small scope to aim.  Relatively few games used it for various reasons, and the Super Scope did not have a great impact.  Even worse, while many of the light gun games released on the Super Nintendo are quite good, not all of them used the Super Scope.  Konami even went so far as to release their own light gun for their game Lethal Enforcers.  But for those who have access to the tools to play them and frankly just want to sit down and shoot something, there are some interesting titles that never received the attention they deserve.  So here they are, the light gun games of the Super Nintendo:

Super Scope 6

super-scope-6Also known as Nintendo Scope 6, Super Scope 6 was the pack-in title for the Super Nintendo Super Scope.  The cartridge contains six games packed into two categories, hence the title.  These games range from a pseudo-Tetris, to a Whack-A-Mole variant, to a game where you shoot down incoming alien fighters, all while using the Super Scope.

While many of these games have managed to separate themselves from the Scopes they came with, no true collector will own a Scope without having one of these cartridges alongside it.  On the plus side, a Super Scope 6 cartridge usually goes for very little.
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Yoshi’s Safari

yoshi-safariSo King Koopa has invaded Jewelry Land along with the Koopalings, deposed the king, and stolen the kingdom’s jewels, and only Mario can save it.  Good thing he’s packing heat.  In Yoshi’s Safari, Mario rides into battle on Yoshi while blowing away Koopa’s forces with a rapid-firing bazooka.  That’s where the Super Scope comes in.  In the only first-person light gun adventure everybody’s favorite Italian plumber has ever starred in, Mario must contend with water traps and pits, hordes of oncoming enemies, and teched-up Koopa kids in mechs.  You can even shoot Yoshi in the back of the head if you feel like it.

Not surprisingly, this Nintendo game offers quite a bit.  Pathways branch out and come back together, secret areas and items can be found throughout, players must run through both a Light and Dark World, and there’s an unlockable hard mode at the end of the game.  Plus there’s two-player multiplayer, and some nostalgic bonuses: this was the first game released in the US where Princess Toadstool is called Peach.  It’s Japanese title was Yoshi’s Road Hunting.
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Battle Clash

battle-clashThe Japanese version of this game is known as Space Bazooka.  In the 21st century, there is only the Battle Game, an arena-style mech fight where pilots and crews go head to head in Standing Tanks.  You happen to be the gunner in one of these mechs, the ST Falcon.  It’s up to you and the Falcon’s pilot, Mike Anderson, to win the Battle Game and avenge Mike’s father, who was defeated and killed in the Battle Game years before by the evil pilot Anubis.  To do that, you’ll have to use the Super Scope to target weak points in the opponent’s armor and bring their STs down.

The game features several difficulty levels(including one unlockable) and a Time Trial mode, but unfortunately Battle Clash doesn’t have much to offer in the long run.  Once you’ve beaten it, there’s not much else to do besides attempting to beat the enemies faster.  And the game isn’t long, consisting of only nine fights.  There’s no multiplayer either, so don’t expect to invite a friend over for some Battle Clash matches.  But the anime-styled visuals are quite pretty, the music is enjoyable, and there’s something fun in being able to blast apart enemy mechs piece by piece.  Battle Clash also tends to go for a very low price, so adding it to your Super Scope collection won’t be a problem.
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Metal Combat: Falcon’s Revenge

metal-combatThe sequel to Battle Clash, Metal Combat begins with Anubis’ sudden return to the ring.  Once again Mike Anderson must go up against him, and now they’re stronger, faster, and a lot more of them.  Good thing he’s got his you to gun for him.  And while the combat in Battle Clash was smooth already, it’s been improved in almost every way.  The item system from the first game has been refined, combat requires more strategy, and the Falcon’s cannon has seen an upgrade.  Good thing too, since the enemies are now harder to kill.

To help you out, new game modes have been added, including a Training mode, so players can learn the ropes without having to jump in head first.  And more importantly, there’s now multiplayer, where one person controls the Falcon’s cannon while the other controls the enemy ST.  Throw in an unlockable alternate ST for the player to use, the return of Time Attack, alternate endings, improved graphics and some excellent music, and you’ve got quite possibly one of the best Super Scope games there is.
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Lethal Enforcers

lethal-enforcers-snesKonami’s police-based light gun game has you playing more like Dirty Harry than anything else, and it came packaged with its own light gun to boot: the Konami Justifier, a plastic blue revolver similar to a .44 magnum(a pink version could also be obtained from Konami).  And the game it came with pitted a lone police officer against a horde of criminals in five missions, including a bank heist, an assault on Chinatown, and taking down drug dealers the lethal way.  Add in a training level, different difficulty settings, and multiplayer, and it made for a heck of a game.

Just be aware that the realism of Lethal Enforcers bothered a lot of people.  You’ll be shooting at digitized actors moving around background pictures of real locales.  There are even hostages who’ll get in your way during the fight, and you’ll have to be sure not to hit them.  And if you can find them, there are bigger guns than your revolver to find.  If you’re a fan of light gun games and can find a Justifier, be prepared for this game to make your day.
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Tin Star

tin-starIn this robotic Wild West shooter, you play as Sheriff Tin Star, who’s sworn to have Black Bart and the Bad Oil Gang cleared out of East Driftwood within the week.  So you’ll have to go day-by-day, blasting away robot gunslingers and whatever else gets in the way.  And while the Super Scope isn’t exactly your typical six-shooter, it definitely gets the job done.  The game features levels broken down into parts, including a short “training” session, then mass combat, and finally a duel.  Level design varies from Tin Star running around the battlefield to a first person perspective.  And different endings will be acquired depending on the amount of money gained over the course of the game.  The game even includes a save feature between levels, albeit it wipes your money when you reload an old save after dying.

It’s unfortunate that there was no multiplayer included in Tin Star, and though the gameplay is varied, there are no alternate game modes.  So beyond going for other endings and trying different difficulty levels, once you’ve beaten Tin Star there’s little reason to come back.  But if you enjoy games set in the Wild West, you’ve got a Super Scope, and you want something besides Sunset Riders, Tin Star is definitely worth putting in the saddle.  And even if you don’t have a Super Scope, the controller actually handles this game quite well.
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T2: The Arcade Game

t2-arcadeEnjoy the Terminator films?  Ever want to take control of a killer robot, reprogrammed to fight for humanity?  Want to see what the future war is like in the comfort of your living room?  Want to do it with a friend?  Then T2: The Arcade Game is for you!  In this Super Nintendo port of the popular arcade game Terminator 2: Judgment Day, you play the T-800, who must travel back in time to save John Connor from the T-1000.  And to do this, you’ve got a machine gun with infinite ammunition to blow away hordes of man-killing machines.

Just keep in mind it’s not easy.  Terminator 2: Judgment Day was an intense and difficult arcade game, and while the SNES version has been lessened a bit, some still walk away in frustration.  But with voice clips of Schwarzenegger and images of Robert Patrick as the T-1000 coming after you, well…it’s definitely an experience.  And it’s one that’s compatible with the Super Scope, so not only are you taking the fight to the killer robots, you’re doing it with a shoulder-mounted cannon.
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Operation Thunderbolt

operation-thunderboltIn 1988, Taito would release a sequel to the popular Operation Wolf arcade game, called Operation Thunderbolt.  Six years later Operation Thunderbolt would finally be ported onto the Super Nintendo with Super Scope functionality, among a few other changes.  Instead of limiting the roster to two, the player could select from six different operatives to take on the hijackers.  Certain elements of the plot were also altered, making the Israeli overtones in the game less obvious.  The title, Operation Thunderbolt, refers to a hostage raid in 1976 in Uganda by the Israeli Defense Force.  Before landing in Uganda, the hijackers had landed the plane in Libya for refueling.  The game Operation Thunderbolt changed this to a Green Beret operation to save American hostages in the fictional African province Kalubya.

The Super Nintendo version changed this.  Instead of two American operatives, it’s now a mission of U.N. operatives taking on General Abdul Bazarre, ruler of the Bintazi People’s Republic.  Gen. Bazarre’s men have hijacked a plane in an attempt to force various European governments to free his imprisoned comrades, and he’s threatening to execute the passengers if his demands aren’t met.  And you’re being sent in to stop him.  And..well, that’s pretty much it.  The game allows two-player multiplayer, but beyond that there’s not much to do besides blowing away hijackers.
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Bazooka Blitzkrieg

bazooka-blitzkriegRobots and cyborgs built by Sylon Incorporated are attacking the city, and only a ninja armed with a bazooka can stop them!  That’s right, a ninja with a bazooka.  Seriously.  And he’s going to need that bazooka, to fend off the hordes of enemy machines, massive bosses, and destructible environments he’s up against.  Ok, so it might not have an award-winning plot, but Bazooka Blitzkrieg definitely captures the glory of the arcade light gun experience in the comfort of your own home.  It’s just a shame it’s so short.

Bazooka Blitzkrieg features two modes: Blitzkrieg and Boot Camp.  Blitzkrieg is the single-player campaign, a five level run through the city to the Sylon Inc. headquarters to take out their central mainframe.  Boot Camp is a score-based game where up to four players compete to get the most points.  The players must select from the first three stages at the start for their game, and will run through the level up until the boss battle, which has been excluded from this mode.  Both modes have three difficulty settings, which add a little replay value, though not much.
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X-Zone

xzoneThe Central Bio-Computer of Compound X has suddenly malfunctioned, and has caused X-TRA(External Threat Recognition Assault system) to go haywire, activating all of its robotic defense force and initiating the global launch retaliation sequence.  In other words, this thing’s about to cause Armageddon.  Looks like there’s only one guy who can stop it, and you’re it.  You’ll have to go in and initiate the Bio-Computer’s shutdown sequence, but it’s not going to make this a walk in the park.  Between the hordes of enemies and the many projectiles coming at you, you may not have time to notice that X-Zone is, at its core, both obsessed with the letter X and very rudimentary.

There just aren’t many options here in terms of gameplay.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as the action is non-stop.  The game consists of only four levels, but several of these are broken down into smaller stages.  The levels do feature some interesting changes in perspective, from free-falling, to side-strafing levels, to the run down the corridors of Compound X, and there are several difficulty settings to choose from, but once you’ve finished the game, there’s little reason to come back.
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Revolution X

revolution-xIn the distant year 1996, the New Order Nation(NON) will have taken over the world and declared a war on youth culture, going after television, video games, and music.  At Club X in Los Angeles, the band Aerosmith is taken captive.  But that’s ok, this is something they’ve prepared for.  Just remember: music is the weapon!  Or so this Super Nintendo port of the arcade game tells me.  But it’s hard to tell when you’re being confronted by this many NON troops.  Revolution X is constantly barraging you with NON forces with little variation.  To make up for this, there are alternate pathways and two-player multiplayer, but none of the console ports ever lived up to the arcade version.

Instead what you get are bland graphics and grainy, poorly animated digitized actors, sluggish gameplay, and a nonsensical plot…though that isn’t any different from the original arcade release.  If you’re a fan of Aerosmith you’ll be happy to know that several of their songs are sampled for the game and sound quite good for the SNES, and are backed by digitized speech.  But if you’re not a fan of Aerosmith…well, let’s just say this likely won’t be for you.  The game’s also sparse on options, and the decision to not make it compatible with the Super Scope just adds to the trouble.
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First Person Shooters

Back before the console FPS revolution on the Nintendo 64, the console FPS titles were a weird bunch, mostly consisting of PC ports, many of which were tied in some way to id Software(Doom is one of the most prevalent games of all time).  But the SNES ports are probably some of the oddest.  They predated their violent Nintendo 64 counterparts during an era known for Nintendo’s censorship and strict control over its consoles.  And they proved in some ways drastically different from their PC counterparts, bringing unique takes to some classic titles.  So without further ado, here are the First Person Shooter titles for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

Doom

doomIt’s Doom all right, but it’s a very different Doom.  The Super Nintendo port of this classic FPS utilized the Super FX 2 chip(the same chip as Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island) to help with its 3D graphics, and while it did include 22 levels of gameplay spread across three episodes, new arrangements of the Doom soundtrack that were praised by critics, and the game’s original difficulty levels, quite a bit was changed.  First, enemies always face you, so the old strategy of turning monsters against one another is out.  Circlestrafing was also removed.  Enemies don’t respawn on Nightmare mode, though they can still quickly ruin your day.  Floor and ceiling textures were removed.

Particle effects were also removed, which changed certain weapons significantly(the shotgun acts more like a hunting rifle in this version).  Five of the original levels were removed, and no unique levels were added in to replace them.  Later levels can also only be accessed if the game is played on a higher difficulty.  No password system was implemented either, so episodes must be finished in a single run.  And the game runs in a lower resolution than its PC counterpart.

Still, no enemies were cut, as was the case with the Atari Jaguar and Sega 32X ports.  And multiplayer could be accessed if the player owned an XBAND modem, though no splitscreen was built into the game.  Doom also managed to be one of the few SNES games with a colored cartridge: it can be found in red, black, or the original gray, depending on the region.
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Wolfenstein 3D

wolfenstein-3dIt’s just like the PC version!  Well, it is, but without references to Nazis, dog-sized rats instead of dogs, and instead of Hitler you fight the “Staatmeister.”  And he looks just like Hitler sans the mustache.  And the graphics aren’t up to par with the original PC release.  And almost all of the blood has been recolored as sweat(or was supposedly turned green for the German release).  Because of this the SNES port is often labeled the worst, though it actually handles fairly well for an early console FPS release.  The controls are solid, some of the bosses have been replaced with bosses from Spear of Destiny, and saving is handled via a password system.  If you want a unique take on Wolfenstein 3D(though not as unique as the last game on this list), this one is worth looking into, though purists of the PC original will likely be turned off by the changes.
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Faceball 2000

faceball-2000The oldest FPS on the Super Nintendo, Faceball 2000 was a port of MIDI Maze, an FPS released on the Atari ST in 1987.  In this game you play a smiley face who blasts slow moving projectiles at other smiley faces and similar critters while wandering through mazes which are supposed to represent major cities.  Throw in two-player split screen multiplayer, multiple game modes with over 100 levels in all, and music by George “Fat Man” Sanger(the composer responsible for the music in Loom, The 7th Guest, Wing Commander, and many others), and you actually have a decent package…if you can stand looking at smiley faces blasting each other for that long.
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Super 3D Noah’s Ark

super-3d-noahs-arkThe only release by independent Christian-themed game developer Wisdom Tree for the Super Nintendo, Super 3D Noah’s Ark is a first person shooter built from another FPS.  And not just any, but Wolfenstein 3D!  That’s right, Super 3D Noah’s Ark is the SNES port of Wolftenstein 3D with cutesy new animal sprites, bland brown graphics, and redone sound effects and music.  Instead of blasting Nazis as B.J. Blazkowicz, you play Noah, who must pacify the unruly animals on the ark by feeding them via a slingshot(other devices are made available during the course of the game).  And once fed, the animals fall asleep: in other words, it’s a non-violent FPS.

With 30 levels of gameplay(and a password system to allow level skip), it’s got a solid basis…it’s just strange that it should exist at all.  It also holds the distinction of being the only commercially available independent game on the Super Nintendo, and due to its rarity it can fetch a hefty price.  If you really want to play it and want to avoid emulation, the PC port would likely be the way to go.  And as for the rumor that id gave Wisdom Tree the source code for Wolfenstein 3D in an act of revenge against Nintendo, it isn’t true.  Wisdom Tree bought the code outright.
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Honorable Mention (Light Gun Games)

The Hunt for Red October – In this side-scrolling submarine game based on the film of the same name, you must pilot the new Soviet super-sub across the ocean as you defect to the United States.  While the Super Scope isn’t usable in the normal game, there are several bonus levels that take a first person view.  These levels require the player to shoot oncoming enemies and weapons, and the Super Scope can be used in lieu of a normal controller.

Lamborghini American Challenge – While a racing game may not be the first thing to come to mind when people think of the Super Scope, this one was compatible with it.  If the Super Scope was connected to your SNES, a new mode could be accessed in the game where you could shoot your rivals out of the race.  Perhaps even better, you could team up with a friend so one could shoot while the other drove.

M.A.C.S. – This one isn’t actually a game, but a government project.  Designed by Sculptured Software, the Multi-Purpose Arcade Combat Simulator is a marksmanship program for the United States Army.  As the Super Scope is considered too slow and inaccurate of a design and was not made compatible with the program, several Jäger AP 74 replicas were turned into light guns for use with the title.  There are apparently several versions of M.A.C.S., though all are rare.

Honorable Mention (FPS)

Super Battletank Series – Woo, tank simulators!  The two Super Battletank games are tank games set during the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, and even go so far as to feature mission briefings by General Norman Schwarzkopf.  And both feature a first person view from the driver’s seat of an M1 Abrams or M1A2, depending on the game.  Sure, they’re not really FPS titles, hence their making the Honorable Mention category, but they are in first person and you do get to shoot.

13 Comments

  1. Jerkface Killah says:

    Great article. Shooting games were always my favorite in the Arcade. My brother and I would pump quarters into House of the Dead, Time Crisis, even a Jurassic Park shooter my local arcade had. At least I can still play awesome shooting games at Dave & Buster’s. They have Rambo and the new HOTD and some game from the makers of Time Crisis where you can destroy like, everything. !These days the shooting game genre isn’t too strong at home. I still love my Saturn Stunner and Guncon. Great Job!

    JFK

  2. sevin0seven says:

    NICE! i didn’t expect this one. good job Ack.

  3. noiseredux says:

    Wisdom Tree made some incredible games!

  4. HellHammer says:

    The Super Scope was amazing. I still find it funny that even with so few games released for it, the Super Scope is still thrown into everything from Mario manga to Smash Bros.

    Also, Lethal Enforcers is the best light gun game ever made.

  5. pepharytheworm says:

    As always a good read but please change that Lethal Enforcers pic to a pic of the SNES version. It looks like either the Sega cd or Genesis version. The info bar has different colors and the badguys didn’t fall back when shot in the SNES version.

  6. Readme.readme.readme says:

    Wow.
    I remember playing Super 3d Noah’s Ark when I was little.
    Here is a story based off of the first time Tommy played it. Knowing it was based off of Wolfenstein 3D (Which he played at his friends house, but mom wouldn’t let him get his hands on it) he shot the little goats with the slingshot and the apple and chanted,”DIE DIE DIE!!! MWAHAHA!! Sleep? MORE LIKE ETERNAL SLEEP!!!”
    Mom and Dad heard him, asked him why, didn’t mind as long as it didn’t have blood.
    Also, nice hack Wisdom Tree. The sleeping thing was a REALLY nice save.*rolls eyes*

  7. crux says:

    It’s worth mentioning that Super Scope isn’t actually a light gun (any more than a Wii remote is), which on the bright side makes it fully compatible with any monitor type.

    Metal Combat is a great title and one-of-a-kind (well, besides following in the footsteps of Battle Clash – it’s so much better it can be ignored). It’s worth owning a Super Scope for, even if it’s a short experience.

    On that note, are any of the other Super Scope titles worth owning? I tried Yoshi’s Safari because others recommended it as the best Super Scope next to Metal Combat, but it was mediocre through and through. I’m hesitant on giving the rest a try.

  8. samsonlonghair says:

    No wonder the Superscope didn’t catch on. Those games look terrible.

    Good write up Ack.

  9. ssnik992 says:

    Actually – the Super Scope is indeed a lightgun. It only works on CRTs. The sensor box is merely used to communicate with the console, not detect position.

  10. CRT GAMER says:

    Great review! Reason to keep that old non-HD CRT aropund.

    Sadly light games are being killed by HD LCDs. Aftermarket lightbar Lightguns have not saturated the market enough and there is yet to be a HD LCD lightgun replacement for the SNES or other Retro consoles. The 1st part Wii controller is the only viable system that will keep the lightgun games going. Perhaps PS3’s Move controller may offer gun games down the shootout road.

  11. crux says:

    Ah, sorry about that. It is indeed a CRT scanning lightgun. Silly of me to assume anyway, as one infrared receiver isn’t enough to use for trigonometric calculations. Clearly I’ve never connected my SNES to a LCD or plasma.

  12. ejamer says:

    Shame that Jurassic Park wasn’t mentioned among the SNES FPS titles – sure the game only put players into FPS mode some of the time, but it was tense and memorable at the time even if the gameplay is terribly dated now.

  13. racketboy says:

    pepharytheworm, fixed the Lethal Enforcers image — thanks!