The most popular things on this site all involve Light Gun Games (apart from the Fallout Maps), so what better way to appeal to the fan(s) than an arbitrary listing of the best light gun games that I have played?
For this list I am not ruling out games which are not “On-Rails” so Resident Evil: Survivor makes the list, and I won’t be enforcing the one per franchise rule.
- No arcade exclusives, must have had a console release
- Must have been released in PAL Region, I don’t do imports as I can’t be arsed with the faff. But if you think I have missed something let me know and I’ll try to get round to it (eventually) and update the list.
- Must be Light Gun compatible, so this discounts the Silent Scope ports.
- Must not be a fucking bazooka gun, so no Super Nintendo and it’s janky ass Super Scope.
- Must be “FULL” games, this discounts Easter Egg functions such as Silent Hill working with the Konami Justifier for sections.
- The Big Buck Hunter series barely qualifies as a game, so I’m ignoring that too.
- This is obviously my opinion, and while I like to think I am infallible I retain the right to flame you back for being a douchebag (this only really applies to Reddit Trolls that use the phrase “I stopped reading when…”)
OK, so buckle up, and prepare to have you mind blown by the amount of time and money I have wasted on Light Gun Games. Oh and I lied, this is a top 34!
34: Mad Dog McCree: All of them.
Jesus this game is fucking awful, but where do you start? Well the shooting is woeful, weak and underwhelming, and the hitboxes are three times too big. However, the worst thing is that the reaction times require you to be a Hummingbird high on cocaine to make some shots.
This counts for all three games in the series
33: Resident Evil: Survivor 2
Playing this game is akin to sodomising yourself with a rusty chainsaw. Survivor 1 was an acquired taste, but at least it tried to add a story. This is a pointless arcade shooter which doesn’t add anything to Resident Evil, and it is a shite shooter.
32: Lethal Enforcers
This game is a cardboard shooting gallery without the charm or excuse of being on the NES. Impossibly hard at times, little to no attempt at world building, and weak ass shooting that is inaccurate. These things mean Lethal Enforcers fails at this very basic premise.
Having a 10 minute long bullet spam final boss is the height of unfair in the arcades and only beatable with cheats or cocaine reflexes on the home ports. The 16bit versions are wank, and the PS1 rerelease isn’t any better.
31: Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
G E N E R I C A S F U C K. Umbrella Chronicles is pretty much half a game, and that half isn’t especially good.
30: Gunfighter: The Legend of Jesse James
How do you sum this up? Errrrr, it is a Western Time Crisis clone. It is oddly slow to play which makes the whole experience feel like you’re a bullet dodging whizz, except it isn’t. You really need the reflexes of a sloth to get hit in most sections. Except the ludicrously hard final shootout. Fuck that bit.
29: Wild Gunman
Wild Gunmen is fun in small dose
s, but there is only a 10 second game looped endlessly till you die which gets old after roughly 10 seconds.
28: Lethal Enforcers 2: Gun Enforcers
The shooting still feels a little weak in Lethal Enforcers 2, but it is an improvement over the first in the series. Lethal Enforcers 2 did have a nice feature in that you could wing an enemy meaning inaccurate shots may not kill the enemy. This took some getting used to, but did make a nice addition to the gameplay.
27: Crisis Zone
Machine Gun Time Crisis should be a good thing, right? Sadly this isn’t. Cheap hits and unfair moments make Crisis Zone a bit of a chore at times. You can however be super cool and play this game in 2-player mode by yourself and live out your action hero fantasies.
26: Dino Stalker (Resident Evil: Survivor 3)
Balls out action arcade version of Resident Evil Survivor, it follows on from the complete pants-on-head retardedness of Dino Crisis 2 but doesn’t quite reach the same heights.
25: Duck Hunt
How do I say this without offending everybody? Duck Hunt is only “alright”. It is literally our definition of average Light Gun Game. You shoot at 1 or 2 ducks, or clay pigeons.
24: Point Blank 2
My views on Point Blank 2 are a little incongruous with my views on the others in the series. I simply don’t like it. It is a classic example of too much of one thing, and the only way the devs tried to innovate was to crank the difficulty in an unfair direction.
23: House of the Dead 3
House of the Dead 2 had great branching paths which would make each play potentially different, with HotD3 you pick the level order and the order you choose them will make the path different and/or harder. It means you’ll see everything on a 3rd playthrough. The boss design was also lacking for a series with relatively interesting boss design.
22: Vampire Night
Vampire Night is an interesting enough concept, but the game suffers from the usual tedious bullet sponges and truly hideous load times. I even timed it, and from a 35 minute run 9 minutes of that was a load screen.
Other than that? It is alright, it just doesn’t do much to separate itself from the competition.
21: Hogan’s Alley
Probably the best NES Zapper game, it does what the other games do in that it is a reliable shooter with what you point the gun at dying. It does get pretty boring after a few rounds especially in Game Mode A where a dull screen loops forever.
However, Hogan’s Alley has 3 different modes. It isn’t 1 or 2 ducks with a 3rd different game. Game Mode B is a long loop, but at least the loop keeps this mode fresher for longer, while Mode C is a relatively fun trick shot game.
20: Die Hard Trilogy: Die Hard 2: Die Harder
Die Hard Trilogy is a game that everyone shouts to the high heavens as being one of the best Light Gun Games. The reality is a little different since the difficulty is all over the place and is either too easy or maddeningly difficult. But for me the most disappointing thing is the shooting feels weak and inaccurate. With little indication of a successful shot, and almost impossible to tell who is shooting at you makes Die Harder a little underwhelming.
It holds up relatively well, and 20th spot is actually pretty fair looking at the rest of the chart.
19: Gun Com 2
Known as Death Crimson OX on the Dreamcast Gun Com 2 is a sequel to a game which was never released outside of Japan, hence it’s omission from our list. But Gun Com feels like a game punching well above its weight. It looks and feels low budget. It is corny, and frankly atrocious looking at times and often looks worse than games on the generation before it. But it does everything relatively well. Shooting is accurate, bonus missions/gameplay are worth sticking around for and it is the only game I know about where you get to shoot large Gundam-ey style robots.
18: Time Crisis
Now to be clear, Time Crisis being this low down the list is more of a reflection of the games above it and it was the first Light Gun Game we reviewed. Resulting in it being used as our yardstick for scoring the genre. With that, Time Crisis is a little flawed. The game is a little too short and some insanely cheap deaths at the hand of unfair programming affect the score slightly.
The shooting is bang on though. Making use of the Namco GCON and it’s improved technology was a godsend for the genre.
Added in an original mode and the standard Time-Attack modes to give you some replay value.
17: Virtua Cop 2
Played Virtua Cop 1? Well this is that just not as good. Fairly solid shooting, branching paths make it well worth a visit. But the lack of innovation between this and the first one makes me prefer the original.
16: Operation Wolf
The highest scoring 8bit game, and depending on the version you play this could rise up the list or drop but all things considered this is about the right place. Fun and frantic shooting with the NES Zapper or Light Phaser providing a good accurate shooter. It is a shame so much of the 8bit games were single screen shooters as Operation Wolf demonstrated perfectly you could have so much more.
15: Area 51
Area 51 would be much higher in the list if it was any longer. Most Light Gun Games clock in around the 30 minute mark, but Area 51 is around the 15-20 minutes mark and the final boss feels like a mid-stage thing rather than the epic finale.
However, it is fun. The use of Digitised Graphics tends to age games fairly poorly (Think original Mortal Kombat) but Area 51 still looks fairly nice.
14: House of the Dead 2
More than a little bit corny and dialogue that would make an English Literature student cry, but the shooting is relatively solid and a number of branching pathways offers a tonne of replayability. The bosses are a bit boring as they frequently descend into a bullet spam.
13: Virtua Cop
Almost the most fun you can have using two light gun games. Fast accurate shooting, with a clear priority order and relatively interesting bosses.
Basically a game where I get to pretend to be RoboCop and that is obviously a good thing.
12: Resident Evil: Survivor
This is a strange game, it isn’t a good Resident Evil game, and it isn’t the most impressive light gun game. But the combination of the two results in a pretty good experience.
The issues aren’t minimal, poorly textured, in-game items are scaled incorrectly due to being copied from other games in the series, and at 70-80 minutes for a playthrough (without a save feature) means Survivor can become a test of attrition.
11: Confidential Mission
Call me contrary, but Confidential Mission is the better of the TWO Dreamcast Light Gun Games we got in PAL. A fun James Bond-esque shooter with crappy scripting and occasional branching path give the game some depth. Being on the Dreamcast helps because despite the gun looking a little funny it was highly accurate.
10: Crypt Killer
One of the games that i spent an inordinate amount of time hunting down as I had found memories of the 3 player shotgun arcade machine that somehow didn’t disappoint when I played it with the crummy none GunCon PS1 Light Gun. 6 levels, but you only need to complete 2 to “win” but a surprising amount of depth with levels changing depending on the order you play them, plus branching paths alternative bosses and several endings based on decisions you made was a phenomenal idea that sadly other Light Gun games never bothered to add.
9: Gunfighter II: Revenge of Jesse James
When compiling this list I was actually surprised with myself that this game scored so highly. It had slightly pointless branching paths which just meant shooting the same people from a different angle, and the hardest/worst final level i’ve ever played for impossible RNGesus difficulty spikes.
The shooting is fast, frenetic and accurate so there is always that…
8: Ninja Assault
Ninja Assault tries to be different and manages to pull it off. This is a light gun game with an actual story, with four characters all of whom have different missions/bosses etc. It gives a reason to replay other than high-scores which for me is important.
It would also have scored higher if there wasn’t a slight issue with some of your shots not registering.
7: Time Crisis: Project Titan
A massive improvement on Time Crisis 1, with some almost nifty features like the bullet map and combo system. But ultimately this is Time Crisis with a lot more going on, screens filled with enemies, hazards to dodge, and far less cheap deaths to prevent frustration.
6: Time Crisis 3
Cards on the table, I actually don’t like Time Crisis 3 and not just because they scrapped Roman Numerals for the third game. It is possibly the best, most refined Light Gun game with everything perfect. Ducking, shooting, timing. All perfect. The slight fly in the ointment is the game is obnoxiously hard to the point it removes the joy I feel I should be feeling when playing the game.
5: Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles
My criticism of Umbrella Chronicles was it was half a game, and not a great half of a game. Darkside Chronicles managed to surprise me. It follows the same idea as the first, by retelling key events from the series, but rather than kitbashing it together badly this game links the segments with stories and new content to weave a narrative. Sure the new content is more predictable than, well, a Capcom game, but it at least feels like somebody tried to make this game.
4: Point Blank
Point Blank is SOOOOOOOOOOOO much fun! What feels like 100s of stupid minigames with enough variations on a theme to keep each one unique, an extremely well crafted difficulty curve and some of the most accurate shooting in a light gungame. Point Black even tried to add in an RPG storymode, but that kinda sucked so we won’t talk about it.
3: Time Crisis II
Time Crisis 2 is almost perfect as a shooter and I was surprised that it only placed 3rd. Fun story, fun bosses, and legit living my fantasies of being Rambo with one-player two-gun mode gunning through the hordes like a BOSS.
2: Resident Evil: Dead Aim
A Resident Evil Light Gun game that perfectly blends 3rd person Survival Horror with light gun shooting as pulling the gun trigger will seemlessly switch you to 1st person perspective. Sure this might sound like a niche idea but it is fantastic and so well designed the odd mode switching quickly becomes intuitive.It is also a classic Resident Evil, so expect a Tyrant fight, different Keys, and a tonne of backtracking.
1: Point Blank 3
Numero Uno. Point Blank 3 is simply the best. Fast, and fun just like the first but with a tonne more playstyles and minigames to keep you interested for longer.
I often sing LeAnn Rimes to myself when thinking about this banger!
So there you have it! Some of these entries surprised me, and bloody hell Namco made a lot of Light Gun Games! Let us no what you think in the comments…