Thursday, 4 April 2013

NES Zapper Vs Wii Zapper

Nintendo Is Packing Heat, Which Piece Should You Bring To The Party???

Everyone loves a good first person shooter and nothing makes the game more real than having an actual gun in your hand. When I say actual, I just mean a piece of plastic in a gun model that represents a shooting device. And the first real inkling of a true perception of shooting something on screen on a Nintendo console was through the NES and the iconic Zapper. It first started as a gimmick, with the arcades the only real place to benefit from this style of gameplay. But as technology has improved, the first person shooters on home consoles have also, thankfully, become the norm in gaming. The Wii Remote’s sensor makes shooters perfect on the Wii and has seen a massive influx of enjoyable, fast paced shooters that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I think we’re all in agreement that on Nintendo consoles, there are only two light guns that are noteworthy in this field, those being the first one, the NES Zapper and the most recent the Wii Zapper ignoring the less than impressive Super Scope on the SNES. And now, I’m going to tell you which one do I think is better. Here’s how the two light guns line up.

NES Zapper

A fun fact about the NES Zapper is that the conservative/child friendly Nintendo made the light gun so realistic that before it reached North America, the company was told to re-design it to make the frame look more toy-like. OK, maybe it wasn’t that fun but it was definitely noteworthy. The NES Zapper started the interactive gaming wave in homes and was definitely ahead of its time. There’s no denying that it’s a landmark into what games were going to become but to have something that good on an 8 bit console is confusing to say the least. With near perfect accuracy and style to boot, right from the start of their home console domination, Nintendo had a star accessory to show off, and we’re not talking about the useless ROB that’s for sure.

But how did that little grey box produce such an invention that does the exact same job as the Wii? Well, it’s all done in a blink of an eye. When you press on the trigger, the screen quickly turns black and a censored light from your CRT TV flashes to locate your aimed shot. There are some downsides to this method though. For instance, the gun can only be used with a CRT TV, that’s an old TV with a big box behind it. That means the NES Zapper will not work on your Plasmas or your LCD TVs and with that, most people have thrown away their old TVs away. Therefore, nowadays it has become really hard to stay nostalgic when you can’t even play these games from your childhood. The other main concern with the gun is that it’s easy to cheat. If you either shoot right next to the TV screen or a light bulb then whatever the target is on screen, it will count as a hit. Nonetheless, most people used the NES Zapper the right way to give them the challenge of the games set and, in the process, fell in love with the device.

Now for the games. The NES has a huge library of games but sadly only a few of them are made for the NES Zapper and for us Brits, there are even fewer. The run-down of games are; Duck Hunt, Gun.Smoke, Gumshoe, Hogan’s Alley, Wild Gunman and The Adventures Of Billy Bayou. The one game out of that list that everybody should be Duck Hunt as it was bundled with most consoles and a copy of Super Mario Bros. So by that logic, near enough 60 million people have played Duck Hunt and have experienced the NES Zapper. Though not an in-depth game by today’s standards, it was fun, revolutionary and I don’t know anyone who didn’t want to kill that muttley-esque dog. The rest of the games are good in their own right but not as memorable as Duck Hunt. And that seems to be the major problem when talking about the NES Zapper, there wasn’t enough games to support the controller. With the games not taking too long to complete as well, it does seem like a gimmick when looking back. Nonetheless, at the time, it must have been extremely difficult to create many games for it that would be as entertaining as the last. So in that view, the NES Zapper wasn’t just a great piece of equipment, it was also memorable and of course, fun to play with.

Wii Zapper

The Wii Zapper is a funny old creation because when you look at it, it’s just a piece of plastic. All you are doing is using the technology that is already installed with the Wii Remote and just turning it into a gun format. When you slot your controller into place, it does look somewhat cool and futuristic but it’s a little disappointing. I just wanted to see more from Nintendo rather than just the outline of a gun and maybe another controller to add to the Wii library. You can see why Nintendo chose not to though and I can relate to it. Since the Wii remotes are quite expensive any, obviously Nintendo thought that adding another piece of kit that wasn’t essential to the Wii would have been cost effective and probably wouldn’t have sold very well. So instead we have easier to make Wii Zapper that you can get for a measly £10 which looks better than spending no doubt around £40 for something you don’t really need.

The Nintendo brand Wii Zapper isn’t the only light gun on the market and unfortunately I haven’t tested the other guns so cannot comment on their function and compare them with Nintendo’s creation. Though from the outside, the Wii Blaster and the small Light Guns look decent, just as an observer, they don’t look like they are better or groundbreaking compared to the Wii Zapper and this is because of the lack of a nunchuk add-on. Their smaller guns so you would only play games with fixed movement attached like House Of The Dead. But since the nunchuk can be slotted to the Wii Zapper, you are open to play a host of games on the Wii including great games like Resident Evil 4 or Call Of Duty. Does the Wii Zapper improve these games? Kind of when there are loads of enemies on the screen but when you’re searching for new places to go or looking for ammo, to can be a strain holding to the Wii Zapper in an unfamiliar way.

There is also one other problem I had when using the Wii Zapper and that is the lack of buttons. Because the Wii doesn’t have many buttons on their remotes, there will be games where you are constantly moving you’re hand away from the trigger to press on the D-pad to use a different function. For example, I recently played The Conduit with the Wii Zapper and one of the most important uses in that game is getting your ASE (All Seeing Eye) out to get through locked doors, find hidden items or to even find your way. The only problem was that because of the lack of buttons, the function is placed on the D-Pad. Because of this, I died a number of times and was the burden of my frustration. The other common sacrifice shooting games have installed is to make you throw grenades by shaking the Remote. This isn’t smooth or comfortable when doing this with both your hands holding the Wii Zapper and then trying to shoot the enemies on screen straight away after because the motion of your shaking has interfered with the sensors and now you’re shooting off screen and then you die and you have to start over again and… Well I think I’ve made my point. Some games it works and some games it doesn’t. With a huge library of games, you can easily find a few that are right for you. A couple person favourites of mine are House OF The Dead: Overkill and Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles (Just for gameplay not story, more information soon).
Now that we have looked at each light gun, which one is better? It’s hard to say because they both have their own advantages and disadvantages but on the overall view and on which gun would have a longer legacy, my money is on the NES Zapper. Yes it’s dated by today’s standards and there isn’t a mountain of games to play with the NES Zapper but the ones you can are more memorable games and that can’t be said with the Wii’s library of light gun games. Playing with the NES Zapper as a child has stayed with me and the memories will always be treasured. The Wii as a console will to but not because of the Wii Zapper. Though I enjoy the Wii Zapper, I just have the same connection with it as I do with the NES Zapper. For me, if the light gun was completely different to the Wii Remote and had its own buttons and functions then maybe I would consider it, but the way it is at the moment, the NES Zapper has the title of being the best light gun Nintendo have ever produced… For now anyway.

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