The Retro Nostalgia of the Light Gun Arcade Machine

The Retro Nostalgia of the Light Gun Arcade Machine

Remember back when you were a kid and the best thing ever was playing shooting games in the arcades? You’d take your pennies on the bus and spend all night getting square eyes staring at old school graphics and shoveling crisps in your face? Remember how easy and accurate it was? Remember that satisfying sound when you shot someone, or something? Morbid and weird? Probably. Awesome fun? Definitely!

I personally remember playing Duck Hunt on the NES and holding the gun right up to the screen to make sure I got that pesky duck every time. It probably didn’t do the screen any good, but it was a good technique! As the years have gone by we’ve seen less and less gun games in both gaming arcades and on the home consoles, but why is this? The simple answer is, changes in display technology. There is no doubt that the old shooting arcade games play much better than modern ones. For some people this is because you just can’t beat the quality and nostalgia jow of playing on an original machine, but it’s also because modern LCD technology screens work in a very different way to the original big back CRT monitors, meaning it’s more difficult for the guns to know what they’re pointing at.

In simple terms, old monitors would draw the image from top to bottom of the screens. This is why if you take a video on your phone of an old tv screen, you can see strange lines and flickers.The old guns could use this drawing of the image on the screens to know what part of the screen it is pointing at. Modern flat panel screens are essentially a rectangular panel full of little LED lights and rather than drawing an image on the screen, these LED lights simply change colour to create the picture. The original guns can’t use these LED’s to detect where you’re pointing so modern systems need a little helping hand, and that’s where infrared sensors come in.

I assume most people have played on a Nintendo Wii. Do you remember the sensor bar you had to stick to the top of your tv? That’s what allows the guns to estimate where you’re pointing, but that’s all it is, an estimate. Newer systems have since been made available that use the same infrared sensors, but place them differently around the screen for a more accurate shot. The downside of these sensors though is that as you may remember from using a Wii, there is a delay from when you move the gun or controller to the crosshair or cursor moving on the screen. It almost feels like you’re dragging the crosshair across the screen.

Speaking of other modern systems available, you have the Sinden Light Guns that work slightly differently by using a white border around the screen to figure out where you’re pointing. You also have GUN4IR which uses 4 individual sensors placed around the screen. Finally you have the Retro Shooter Light Guns (the ones we use) which use two separate sensors in the top corners of the screen to estimate where you are pointing the gun. In my opinion, the most accurate of these is currently the GUN4IR light guns, but with a whopping price tag of over £400 per gun this simply isn’t an option for us as we want to give the best value products to our customers.

So why do we use the Retro Shooter guns? Simply put, they have the perfect balance of being simple to use as well as being accurate. Instead of needing a PC based system like the other options, the Retro Shooter works with a dedicated Pandora’s Box system which is the most simple and user friendly option out there. We spent a good few months testing these guns before we were happy to offer them to our customers, and as a whole package we feel they are currently the best option on the market for our customer base.

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