Light gun games were a big deal in the 90s. Whether you were poised in front of a hefty arcade cabinet or playing at home, blasting enemies with a gaudy plastic gun was a major part of the gaming scene.
Yeah, light gun games are still a staple of arcades now, but they had a true golden age in the 90s, with some genuine classics emerging during this decade. While you may have forgotten some of them by now, there’s a high chance you slaughtered many a goon on these 10 light gun games …
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
An iconic adaptation of an iconic film! Cast as Arnie’s T-800, you’re sent through one brutal stage after another, from the ruins of post-apocalyptic LA to the then-present day.
Assuming, that is, you actually made it to the later sections.
T2 still stands up, with solid visuals and great sound, though it does get pretty frustrating a few stages in (remember those endoskeletons sprinting alongside John Connor’s truck? How the hell did they move so fast?!).
The arcade cabinet for this was awesome too – mainly because of the two GIANT guns attached to it.
Virtua Cop 2 (1995)
Virtua Cop 2 was hailed as a big improvement on the original, and while it may look a little bare and basic today, it was pretty stunning back in the day. The weighty sound effects and death animations give this a nice visceral quality, and the game’s opening is brilliant: the heroic cops put the kibosh on a jewellery-store robbery, before embarking on an awesome car chase.
It was kind of like a Lethal Weapon movie, with an even higher body count.
The House of the Dead 2 (1998)
The House of the Dead went on to spawn a big franchise (which includes an infamous movie from Uwe Boll), and its sequel was a big improvement. While it has a horror theme, it’s pretty hilarious in places, with some cringe-worthy acting and dialogue worthy of Resident Evil’s unforgettable live-action opening.
Shooting zombies and assorted monsters to pieces is relentlessly fun, and being able to reload by simply pointing your gun away from the screen (rather than having to pull the trigger too) was a neat touch at the time.
Time Crisis (1995)
In arcades, Time Crisis made for an entirely new experience thanks to one thing: a pedal.
Rather than simply having to stand still and get shot by those enemies you failed to kill in time, Time Crisis evened the odds by letting you duck and rise simply by using said pedal.
This cover mechanic added more depth to the game, and helped it stand out from the crowd. The ticking-clock is also a brutal addition, and the longer the game goes on, the less time there is to waste. The gun’s recoil function was a beast, too, making the experience even more immersive.
In the PS1 port, you could duck simply by pressing a button on the G-Con’s side.
Silent Scope (1999)
Though it wasn’t as fast-paced or adrenaline-pumping as, say, Time Crisis, Silent Scope was nevertheless an innovative light gun game that cast you as a sniper.
This meant you had to position yourself wisely to make best use of the massive rifle attached to the cabinet, and had to view the action in close-up through the scope, picking enemies off like a pro.
Point Blank (1994)
Unlike most light gun games of the 90s, the first Point Blank release was essentially a series of mini-games, with players allowed to pick which stages they wanted to tackle rather than following a storyline. Each of these is brief, and features a cuter, more light-hearted aesthetic than its competitors.
The arcade game hit in 1994, and a PS1 port arrived in 1997, with new features. Multiple sequels and spin-offs have been released since, but at the time, Point Blank was something of a breath of fresh air.
Die Hard Trilogy – Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1996)
Released directly to home consoles, Die Hard Trilogy still stands as one of the greatest film tie-ins ever made. Not only was it clearly made with real love for the series (back then, the franchise was still in good shape), but it gave you three games in one.
Die Hard 2: Die Harder is a light gun game in the mould of Virtua Cop, pitting John McClane against an army of polygonal scumbags. It’s a fast, chaotic adventure that follows the movie’s storyline nicely, beginning at Dulles Airport and ending with an airborne shootout (a slightly different ending, sure, but fighting hand-to-hand on the wing of a plane wouldn’t have worked).
Running, riding snowmobiles, parachuting, and taking a ride in a helicopter help to keep the action fresh, exciting, and endlessly replayable (with or without a light gun).
Lethal Enforcers II: Gun Fighters (1994)
For Lethal Enforcers II: Gun Fighters, Konami shifted the action to the Old West, casting you as a gun-toting lawman, and it was seen by many as superior to the original. It’s pretty much everything you could want from a Wild West light gun game, with old-fashioned guns, dusty locations, and music right from a Spaghetti Western.
The game makes great use of its setting, perhaps best demonstrated by the stage revolving around riding alongside a wagon and fending off attackers on horseback.
Mad Dog McCree (1990)
Another Western. 1990’s Mad Dog McCree was a live-action shooter featuring full video – an innovative release back then, which grabbed its fair share of attention. Playing it felt as if you were actually getting to step into a big-budget movie rather than just watching.
It’s actually aged quite nicely, and still has plenty of novelty appeal today. Sure, i’s nowhere near as fast-paced or engrossing as a Virtua Cop 2 or Time Crisis, but Mad Dog McCree still provided plenty of fun for gamers at the time.
Time Crisis 2 (1997)
Time Crisis 2 was so fast and frantic it made the original look like Mad Dog McCree. This time around, two players can get in on the action, and the graphics are far superior (still strong today).
Though the arcade was released back in 1997 / 98, the PS2 port didn’t arrive until 2001 – a lengthy gap for fans looking to play the game at home.
What was your favourite light gun game of the 90s? Let us know!