GameSpite Journal 10 | Super Scope

Super Scope | Dev.: Nintendo | Maker: Nintendo | Type: Light Gun | Release: Feb. 1992

Nintendo often fell prey to the dark side when it came to advertising their products. The embarrassing ads of the “Play It Loud!” era are proof enough that Sega’s more “extreme” marketing strategy was beginning to get under the video game giant’s skin. But we thankfully never saw this mentality applied to development of software or hardware. That is, until the Super Scope.

Very clearly the successor to the NES Zapper, the Super Scope aspired to become even more popular by tweaking the formula. Instead of being a simple toy-like handgun, the Super Scope was to be mounted on your shoulder. An actual scope you looked through with one eye allowed players to aim with much greater accuracy than you could with the old Zapper. It was, at least theoretically, an elegant evolution of the console light gun.

There was one very obvious problem with all this: The Super Scope is a freaking bazooka. It was almost as if Nintendo decided that the best way to outdo the super-cool image of the Genesis by upping the ante to silly lengths. Firing a heavy weapon would certainly appeal to little boys everywhere, but in practice it was rather ludicrous even for our generation. Firing at things with a big hunk of plastic on our shoulders was uncomfortable at best and hopelessly clunky at worst. The “cool factor” cannibalized a genuinely good idea, taking basic common sense along with it.

Equally puzzling was some of the software -- simply dubbed Super Scope 6 -- that came with the monstrosity. While the pack-in collection featured a couple of fairly basic shooting games, there was also several misbegotten puzzle game variants bundled under the name Blastris. They played exactly like they sounded: like Tetris? (and occasionally Columns), but you shoot blocks to interact with them. And yes, they were exactly as stupid as they sounded, too.

But it’s difficult to completely hate the Super Scope, even if it was misguided. Once you got used to the burden on your shoulder, aiming did prove both useful and novel, especially when paired with entertaining software like Yoshi’s Safari or Battle Clash. The games that worked best with the peripheral were generally the ones that knew what the Super Scope truly was: A light gun. Titles like these showed that there was a great deal of creativity left in this often-neglected genre, and trying to force shooting into genres where it didn’t belong did the peripheral no favors. Sadly, the entire point of the thing in the first place was to be flashy and new instead of being a functional, solid base for new experiences.

The entire concept of the Super Scope smacked of the same kind of out-of-touch perspective that the Virtual Boy would eventually be mocked for. But you have to admit that even Nintendo’s goofiest failures can hold a special place in people’s hearts. Most people don’t remember many great games that used the Super Scope or even liked how it was built. But those that experienced it will still hold a bit of fondness for it simply because of how novel it was, out-of-touch or no.

By Jeremy Signor? | Nov. 28, 2011 | Previous: Ys III | Next: Contra III