Right out of the box, the 1991 launch of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System mirrored what Nintendo fans across North America had come to know, love, and associate with the company’s previous platform.
Two controllers? Check.
A pack-in copy of a Mario game without a box so that it would forever stick out like a sore thumb among all the other titles in your complete-in-package collection? Check and mate.
A light gun for shooting at stuff on screen?
Power aside (Super Power), the biggest differentiation between the original NES and the Super NES for many was the absence of some Super equivalent of the Zapper, the light gun packed in with so many of the NESes that controlled 90 percent of the North American video game market. The reaction to this was largely “…huh. Oh well, more Super Mario World!” There were probably others who further lamented the loss, but there didn’t seem to be too many people howling for a new pistol to pack for playtime.
That didn’t stop Nintendo from releasing something eventually anyway, though. And for the prolonged absence of… six months?! (Really? That’s all it was? Huh. Felt longer), they decided to compensate somewhat. Light guns? Please. Make way for the light bazooka!
In February 1992, the Super Scope (also known as the “Nintendo Scope” in some countries, and sometimes mistakenly referred to as the “Super Scope 6,” which was the name of the game cartridge packed in with the peripheral) hit store shelves, and was quite different from its predecessor in a number of ways. In addition to the new nearly two-foot long bazooka-styled form factor (which could be held in a variety of ways), the Super Scope was wireless and powered by six AA batteries, allowing players total freedom of movement. Facilitating this was the infrared receiver, which plugged into the console and sat atop the television.
Then there was the namesake of the device, the scope. Attachable to either side of the Super Scope in order to facilitate right- or left-handed play, this attachment helped the boast that it featured precision down to “a single television pixel.”
Unfortunately, like other light gun-styled devices, the Super Scope is not compatible with modern, non-cathode ray tube televisions and monitors due to its design. This is based on CRTs having a refresh rate that is not found in the continuously-lit televisions more commonly found today. That said, while Nintendo found a way to rework NES Zapper titles to work on the Wii U with the Wii Remote, the Super Scope library has not been so fortunate, and only time will tell whether they decide to try adapting the process to the Nintendo Switch.
The Super Scope would amass a library of around a dozen games — fewer than the NES Zapper — and would not even be compatible with some light gun games for the system. Konami’s Lethal Enforcers, for instance, would allow you to use the packed-in Justifier or a Super NES controller, even in 2-player mode. At best, you had to mail away for a second Justifier for dual-light gun action.
That said, the device has developed a legacy which has outlived any single entry in its game library. Modified versions of the Super Scope were nevertheless instantly recognizable in 1993’s Super Mario Bros. movie as “Devo Guns,” while the original device has been a staple (and often mishandled) item of the Super Smash Bros. series since Super Smash Bros. Melee in 2001.