Monkey Reviews (Review) Review by: Matt Kearns, Published: Oct.3,
This light gun really takes
me back... waaaay back, circa 1986: Nintendo, Sega, man... I
can still remember playing Duck Hunt and Hogan’s Alley
for hours in the winter. Good fun.
Now, I’ve matured in my tastes in games,
as have all of us. Seeing screen shots of The House of the Undead
2 make the ducks and dogs of the old Nintendo look like cave
The old Nintendo gun was pretty drab honestly,
however, the ACT Labs light gun looks pretty nifty... Flash
Gordon-like nifty. This gun is a decent little item that fits
into my hands (or meat hooks... Ask Chris) and feels pretty
solid. Upon opening the box, I was pleasantly surprised to see
that everything was diligently wrapped in sheet foam. I’ve
thought for a long time that this is necessary; the world’s
landfills just simply aren’t populated with enough Styrofoam.
Just Kidding, It’s actually handy to have incase your
trigger finger gets bruised and you have to pack the gun away
for a few weeks while you heal up.
Let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?
I tried installing the gun on Win98/ME/XP systems
with different video cards. And sadly, each required a new driver
be installed, which kind of sent my mouse a little snaky. After
a little bit of researching I found that this is normal, so
I can more or less shrug it off. I’ve since found that
if you leave the gun off of calibration mode, your mouse will
work fine as long as the gun isn’t pointed at the screen.
Installation on Win 98 was particularly trying,
Windows ME & XP wasn’t much better. I recommend having
current a version of your Motherboard’s chipset drivers
especially if you run into any trouble. Aside from some mouse
oddities and searching for new drivers the install wasn’t
all that bad.
Now, down to game play... I’ve found that
other than the games that are on the website, and a few of the
emulated games (like the old Nintendo stand-bys) there isn’t
much fare for the PC light gun... maybe it’s because the
PC gaming audience tends to be older, maybe its because the
game manufacturers have found that a gaming unit like this carries
inherent problems, but in either case, this gun has a limited
audience for true blue PC games. However, there are a good 100
games that ACT Labs says the unit is compatible with. Either
way, the emulated games seemed to run very well, and the gun
was fairly accurate, I’ve found that sitting 3-4 feet
back from the monitor helps with the accuracy, but, in all,
it’s not a hyper-accurate gaming weapon.
Problems? What problems?
One peeve about this gun is that I found it rather
annoying to re-calibrate the gun every time I changed games,
I understand the reason behind it, but having to guess what
resolution you’re at every game is more than a bit of
a pain. Again, other reviewers pointed this out, and even though
it’s only about a 1-minute process, it’s overhead
that doesn’t need to be there necessarily. I’d rather
see a resolution/refresh calibration map when you install the
driver, and do a lot of calibrating at first, than do it every
time I switch a game.
The only other peeve that I have about the gun is that when
the trigger is pulled, the screen flashes for a moment, and
then returns to normal. Again, this is necessary because of
the way the system targets... it is however a nuisance especially
if you like playing games like House of the Dead 2 in the dark,
the white flashes are a sure headache magnet.
After reading up on console light guns and the
shooting games used in arcades, I’ve found that this is
what normally happens, albeit it’s much faster and usually
the flashes are localized to the target itself. The light bounces
back into the gun, and the gun will read a hit or miss. If you
remember the old kids series “Captain Power” some
areas of the screen glowed either purple or green, this was
in effect because there was no way to signal the screen to reveal
the targets, also there were shots fired back, so the gun that
you could buy to play with would also register hits. Basically
the glowing parts reflected the light, and every now and then
if the gun detected the right frequency, you had a hit scored
against you. Really the technology hasn’t seen much of
an improvement, but the system does actually work, just in this
case, it makes for some bleary eyes after a few hours (Visine,
the gamers’ best friend).
As far as it went with ACT Labs, I found out most
of what I needed to know on their website, however, other reviews
have been less than impressed with the technical support given.
I’m not going to comment on that area of their performance
as time wasn’t permitting to test this area. I have since
learned that ACT Labs’ technical support person has been
replaced, and things should be back up to speed shortly.
Even though there were some minor glitches and nuisances, this
gun definitely is worth a try. The light gun is a decent new
addition to the gaming rig, and for the nominal price, it’s
not like you’re buying a new console every few months.
However, be prepared to deal with some problems before you get
the full effect of gunning down zombies.