Monkey Reviews (Review)
Review by: Matt Kearns, Published: Oct.3, 2002

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 drawings.

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.