The Super Scope is indisputably my absolutely most hated peripheral.
Nintendo, when you get right down to it, has released a lot of random crap over the years. We’ve already discussed the bongos and the Wii Zapper, but that’s just the tip of an iceberg made of pure, frozen piss. Anybody remember the e-reader? It was “we’re gonna sell you DLC before it’s cool” in trading card form. It probably would have been a good idea… if it didn’t need an entire extra Gameboy Advance to function in some games. And, speaking of which, there was the GBA/Gamecube link cable that led to some interesting proto-WiiU experiences… but was also another excuse to buy a big pile of GBAs in tribute to the latest Zelda. I’m pretty sure there was also that DDR/Mario crossover that used a dance pad for exactly one game. You better believe I’m blaming Nintendo for that one!
There are even the devices that everyone considers failures that I actually like. I admit that some of my affection for the system may come from not purchasing it until (well) after a price drop, but I always enjoyed the Virtual Boy and its neither-fish-nor-fowl portable wannabe console-esque experiences. Granted, this may have permanently damaged my retinas, but ya gotta break a few eggs for a good Wario game. I’ll always defend the potential of the WiiU and being able to play random grindy games while watching Netflix, and the ol’ Gameboy link cable was cumbersome but the only way to play the essential Pokémon. And ROB? ROB has his purposes.
The arguably most successful Nintendo whatsit of them all was the NES Zapper, a light gun so brilliant in its simplicity that it tricked the entire world into thinking light gun games would be fun over and over again. Oh, to be so young and naïve again…
While arcades are a different matter, I want to say the Playstation’s Guncon with Time Crisis and Point Blank was the only other time in history a home console got a decent shooting peripheral. Does The Typing of the Dead count? No, probably not. The Wii did a good job with its shooting games, but that was all based on its preexisting wiimote functionality, and not the zapper hunk of useless plastic. Other than those few standouts, all we ever seem to get are items like the Sega Genesis Menacer (what am I even looking at?) or generically produced third-party peripherals that look to be about the same quality as a quarter squirt gun.
And then there’s the damn Super Scope.
I hate everything about the Super Scope.
First of all, it’s a damn bazooka. While that kind of looks cool in the toy aisle (remember, this was the age of the Super Soaker Wars), to actually heap a Super Scope up onto your shoulder is no small task for a kid. A Zapper is a microphone, the Super Scope is a trombone, and the trombone has never been cool. But the gigantic form factor also leads to one other big problem: it makes the peripheral too personal. I don’t know about you, but my NES Zapper thrived on being “two player”. You just got a decent score on Duck Hunt, but come on, pass that back and I’ll show you what I can do. The Super Scope, complete with its titular scope that could be loaded for left or right handed use, seemed built to only be used by one person forever, and the idea of passing that enormous plastic tube back and forth seemed ridiculous. So, great, now I can either play with this thing alone, or have someone watch me play bazooka whack-a-mole while I get pestered about when we’re going back to Bomberman.
Then we’ve got the battery issue. The Super Scope requires six AA batteries. That’s two more batteries than the Gameboy’s required four. Fun fact: I’m pretty sure the Gameboy will last for about twelve billion hours with four AAs, but the Super Scope will survive a measly half hour. Alright, I’m sure it’s not that bad, but when you’re a kid and have to beg your parents for each new battery, it kinda seems like the Super Scope is draining power a lot faster than it should. It was like a gaming subscription service for a 1992 brat! You know what didn’t require any batteries? Every other SNES experience there ever was!
And, finally, there’s the required sensor bar/block. Dad won’t let me leave it up in front of the TV, so I have to fish it out of whatever drawer it migrated to every time I want to play with the stupid thing. That’s grody.
But what about the games? I mean, I can complain about the Super Scope all I want (and I will!), but who cares about the “controller” if the games are good? Well, bad news there, buddy, there are… let’s see here… a whole dozen games that support the Super Scope. That’s… not too bad? But the list seems to trim down when you really look at it: Battle Clash is unnecessary in light of Metal Combat, and Yoshi’s Safari barely qualifies as a Yoshi/Mario title. The Hunt for Red October, Lamborghini American Challenge, and Lemmings 2 (seriously?) all use it as a random, optional gimmick. Bazooka Blitzkrieg and X-Zone look kind of terrible, though I’ll admit I haven’t played either. And Operation Thunderbolt and T2: The Arcade Game are just hobbled together arcade ports. And one of those twelve is the glorified tech demo that came with the Super Scope, Super Scope 6.
So let’s talk about that nonsense.
Super Scope 6 claimed to be “six games in one!” back when that meant something. Well before the age of collections and compilations, the idea of six games for the price of one was always enticing. Unfortunately, during this era that always, always meant that you were going to get six games that all lasted maybe ten minutes. Super Scope 6 was no exception, and its meager offerings were about as limited as something you’d see on a Gameboy release. Heck, it was barely more gameplay than a Game & Watch title.
First we have Blastris, which was an attempt to marry Tetris and/or Dr. Mario to a shooting game. It doesn’t work. Type A is based on trying to line up blocks exactly like in Tetris, and Type B involves matching colors like in Dr. Mario or Columns. Unfortunately, with no “real” controller support, everything moves entirely too slowly, and the randomness of “what kind of block” and “where does block spawn” combines into something that is wildly frustrating. But that’s two “games” down! Mole Patrol is also part of the Blastris package for whatever reason, and it’s whack-a-mole with a gun. Man, even that description is more exciting than the tepid “can you look at the screen” adventure that is Mole Patrol. Blastris is a bust.
The other three games are part of the LazerBlazer package. Type A is basically a 2-D shooting affair, Type B is 3-D, and Type C is the boss fight. Whoops, I mean… no, that’s exactly what I mean. LazerBlazer was likely originally intended as a “real” game with different segments and perspectives, but it was diced up into three to satisfy the “6” gimmick. In fact, someone could likely cobble together a complete game with the LazerBlazer levels (and stick Mole Patrol in as a “fun” bonus stage between battles) but, no, had to get this pile of dreck that never felt like anything but a tech demo. Seriously, I was a pretty easily duped kid, and even I recognized this was haphazardly slapped together.
But that’s the Super Scope for you. When even a dedicated “Nintendo Kid” recognizes something as a piece of crap, you know you’ve got a turd on your hands. The Super Scope is terrible, Super Scope 6 is terrible, and damn anyone that thought this wannabe bazooka was a good idea.
I hate the Super Scope.
FGC #173 Super Scope 6
- System: Super Nintendo, and I doubt it’s going to spring up on the Virtual Console.
- Number of players: One lonely child with a bazooka on his shoulder. Occasionally, one must wipe the tears from the plastic. … Okay, technically it’s 2-P, but good luck with that.
- Favorite game: If I had to choose, it’d be Mole Patrol, as at least it features cute, sub-Pokémon alien moles. Come to think of it, remaking this title as a cell phone game with Digletts might be a best seller.
- This guy are sic: I maintain that it is thanks to LazerBlazer that I misspelled the word “laser” for the following decade. I remembered there being a Z from somewhere!
- Hey, you didn’t mention Tin Star: Eh, I kinda like Tin Star. I would rather see it with a better attached peripheral, but it’s passable. That’s better than most of the Super Scope library.
- Did you know? Mario and/or Iggy Koopa occasionally cameo in the missile segments of LazerBlazer. I would have grabbed a capture of that, but that would require playing this game for longer than thirty seconds.
- Would I play again: Not even if it was the only way to use the last AA batteries on Earth. I’d sooner chuck ‘em into a chasm, and doom the human race. This… is a very complicated way of saying, “No.”
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Wolverine for the NES! Bah, I guess it’s been long enough since our last X-Men game, right? And Wolverine is his own dude, right? Eh, please look forward to it, bub.