Not everything needs to be BIGGER and BETTER. This is a message that I have been harping on for years. In the progress-obsessed technology industry, it is often a message that falls on deaf ears. Ultimately at the end of the day there is such a thing as GOOD ENOUGH. There is only so much you can do to improve on something before it stops making sense to the people buying it. Which brings me to the SNES Super Scope. Can anyone who hefts this behemoth honestly say it is an improvement over the NES Zapper? It’s time to find out!
How It Works
The SNES Super Scope operates by manipulating the pixels on cathode ray tube television sets. This is achieved by sending a beam of infrared to light up a single pixel on the TV, which is where the shot will hit. It is very similar to the NES Zapper in function along with the addition of added “improvements” such as it being wireless via use of a sensor that plugs into the second controller port and sits on the top of the TV.
It is important to note that as a result of its reliance on the manipulation of CRT televisions that IT WILL NOT FUNCTION ON A MODERN HD DISPLAY OR A PROJECTION TELEVISION!!! If the only TV available to you is an HDTV (and if you are a SNES gamer….. really?!?), the SNES Super Scope is not for you.
Reception And Legacy
The SNES Super Scope only found its way into a little over 1.5 million homes. As it turns out there IS such a thing as good enough, which could have come in the form of another zapper pistol that uses the updated tech of the Super Scope.
Reasons why this peripheral failed include:
1) It was uncomfortable to use. You might think that a company like Nintendo (or SEGA, since they did the same thing with their Menacer) would perhaps do some focus testing with the device. If they did, they might have heard that a 2-foot long bazooka with detachable parts that are easy for children to lose and has to be aimed with a scope, not to mention one that is uncomfortable on the eyes and the shoulder may not be such a good idea … Nah!!!!! This is the SUPER NINTENDO, so it needs a SUPER light-gun. I don’t know who was dumber here: Nintendo for the idea or SEGA for copying it.
2) Battery Life. Amazingly, the infrared technology in the Super Scope worked well, ensuring much more accurate gameplay then its forefather. Too bad the “wireless” tech didn’t match the quality. The SNES Super Scope took 6 AA batteries that it drained in a matter of a few hours! This fact not only scared potential buyers away, but ensured early adopters would rarely get to use their Super Scope as well.
3) No Support. Question: Why would any company put out a game that requires a device that only reaches 1.5 million customers, when they could instead put out a game that reaches almost 50 million customers? Answer: They didn’t. The moment Super Scope 6 failed to move hardware was the moment the clock stopped for the Super Scope. Only nine games ever came out that made real use of the SNES Super Scope, and of the nine only half were any good. It’s what we call the Peripheral Conundrum: Customers refuse to buy the product because there are no games; companies refuse to make games because there are no customers. Super Scope badly needed a Duck Hunt, and Super Scope 6-in-1 was no Duck Hunt …
So does being a monumental failure mean that there is nothing of worth if you manage to snag a cheap Super Scope? OF COURSE NOT!!! Here are five games that make it well worth your while to get your bazooka on!
The 5 Best Super Scope Games
1. and 2. Battle Clash and Metal Combat
If you have never played these two mech simulations and own a Super Scope, you need to remedy the situation A.S.A.P! Essentially what you have here is a series of boss battles against STs (Standing Tanks) with their own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Blowing apart your opponent’s mech piece by piece is fun times, and though I enjoy the mech designs and plot of Battle Clash more, Metal Combat is the superior game. But as cheap as these games can be there is no excuse not to own them both if you have a Super Scope.
3. Operation: Thunderbolt
If you loved Operation: Wolf in the arcades like I did, then you will love this sequel for the Super Scope. Operation: Thunderbolt gives us branching paths, several commandos to choose from, and intense action that never lets up unlike SOME light gun games (Looking at you, Bazooka Blitzkreig). It’s a whole different experience from the arcade, and one that manages to stand on its own merits. A forgotten gem.
4. Yoshi’s Safari
Arguably the best game for the peripheral, Yoshi’s Safari is a game that must be seen to be believed. The game is a rail shooter that follows Yoshi and Mario’s attempts to liberate Gem Land from Bowser and the Koopalings … With a GUN!!! Aside from solid gameplay and cool bosses, the game also has different paths through each level, hidden secrets (It IS a Mario game) and the ability to shoot Yoshi in the back of the head. If only looks could kill …
5. Tin Star
The Old West is fertile ground for great games. The SNES proved this with Sunset Riders, Wild Guns, and now Tin Star, which follows the misadventures of the titular hero on a quest to collect the bounty for Black Bart and his gang. The story is quirky, the art style is inspired and the gameplay is varied for a light gun game. Well worth experiencing with the Super Scope, though it can be played without it.
If you are a fan of light guns, then The SNES Super Scope is NOT recommended on its own merits. But as more and more scope pieces get lost, a complete SNES Super Scope is going to keep getting more and more expensive (as of now they are around 50 dollars!). Since it is the gateway to some interesting games, you should keep your eyes peeled for one if any of the above caught your eye. But considering the depth and quality of the SNES standard library, you’re not missing TOO much if you don’t …
I started playing SNES games in early ’92 and to this day I have never played with or even held a Super Scope. It just seemed irrelevant (though friends told me Yoshi’s Safari was great back in the day).
I got my SNES / Genesis light gun fix from Lethal Enforcers (with Konami’s third party light pistol).
Light gun games continued to stay on the periphery of the industry into the Playstation / Dreamcast years with games like Time Crisis, Point Blank (using Namco’s GunCon) and House of the Dead and even made a bit of a comeback with the Wii, but they never quite matched the heights they achieved in the NES days.
Would the Lethal Enforcers pistol gun work with these games or do you NEED the Super Scope? Oh and Point Blank on the PSone was awesome.
There may be, but I am not aware of any.
The amount of people that would have owned both a Super Scope and a Lethal Enforcers pistol would have been so small back then that it wouldn’t have been worth a developer’s time to add in such functionality.
Ahhh, now I know why I see so many Super Scope 6 and Battle Clash carts for cheap.
Great article. Operation Thunderbolt looks nice though I never heard of it until now. Its great to keep finding new titles on my fave console so good work Mon.
I’ve been playing the SNES since ’94 and I never had the urge to pick up one of these things. Just didn’t have the games I would be interested in. I might of thought about getting one if they had a Hogan’s Alley sequel to play it with.
LOVE the diagram!
LoL!!!! I’m glad someone does!