RELEASE DATE: 12/86 – (US)
PERIPHERALS REQUIRED: Light Phaser
I’ve tried to imagine how thrilling it must have been for youngsters in 1986 to point a fake plastic gun at the TV and have on-screen objects disappear. Alas, as amusing as Duck Hunt was as a child – the duck’s eyes bugging out when you shoot them, the silly dog happily showing you the duck after it falls to the ground, the sharp twang of the Zapper’s trigger – it’s little more than a novelty now. A game that you can sheepishly show your own child, while saying, “Look, son/daughter, this was my generation’s Angry Birds.”
Sega’s initial dips into the light gun pool were perfunctory, at best. Safari Hunt (review pending) expanded upon Duck Hunt‘s limited palette by adding more beasties and environments to the shooting menagerie, but little else. Safari Hunt may as well be Skyrim, though, compared to Marksman Shooting & Trap Shooting. Even upon its release in 1986, these two repetitive Light Phaser exercises barely qualified as mini-games.
In Marksman Shooting, you’re ostensibly an FBI agent-in-training. Apparently, the FBI locks their junior agents in a dimly lit room with a handgun, unlimited rounds, and wave after wave of paper targets until they’re so paranoid and sleep-deprived, they’ll do anything the agency tells them to. As the black-and-white human paper outlines appear around the screen, shoot them in the red circle to gain points and make them disappear. Qualifying for the next round requires you to shoot a certain percentage of the targets. The percentage increases with every subsequent round, but if you’re holding your Light Phaser as close as humanly possible to the screen, it shouldn’t be a problem to hit all the targets. The rounds continue past 99, beyond any reasonable amount that any human being should be playing. Besides targets that appear with increasing speed, however, there are no differences between any of the rounds. Same barren backgrounds. Same stale coffee. Same ol’ questioning all you believe in.
Trap Shooting takes you out of the FBI’s basement and into the woods, probably somewhere outside of Montana or Alaska. You’re out hunting with a buddy, but you’re not your average bloodthirsty buck runners, no sir. You boys prefer the time-honored tradition of shooting clay pigeons. Your partner launches the targets, you shoot them. Each round requires you to shoot a certain amount of targets in order to advance, and like Marksman Shooting, Trap Shooting goes on forever. But unlike Marksman Shooting, Trap Shooting has a calming effect, not unlike the Clay Shooting option in Duck Hunt. This is likely due to the pixelated Bob Ross panorama that lingers hazily throughout every round, making you wish you were in the real woods, far, far away from the grim spectacle of adulthood.
Neither Marksman Shooting nor Trap Shooting are bad or poorly made. They’re just boring remnants of a lost age, a time before Cabela’s fancy three-dimensional deer and bear renderings and plastic rifles intrigued the hearts of country boys the world over. As the white hairs in my beard make abundantly clear, I realize it will never be 1986 again, no matter how hard any of us try.
MARKSMAN SHOOTING: D
TRAP SHOOTING: C-