Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zapper Files

Seeing how this was the first video game I ever played, I had to repost this. Also DuckHunt was released the year I was born. It's one of life's mysteries that I always wondered about. My mind feels at ease now knowing the mystery is finally solved.

Before we get into how the Nintendo Zapper works, let’s discuss just why the device was so confusing to begin with. Most light guns work a lot differently than the Zapper. Just by looking at them, the average bear should be able to figure out how they function. Most traditional light guns have some sort of sensor module that sits on top of or below the television, which tracks exactly where the gun is pointing when the infrared signal is sent upon trigger pull. It then determines whether the target was hit by triangulating the position of the beam. Frequently, one would be required to calibrate these devices by shooting the corners of the television so that the sensor module could detect the general size of the screen.

The Nintendo Zapper had none of these things and, thus, was a complete mystery. So just how did the damn thing work? By reversing the normal process, of course. In this case, the gun was the sensor. Confused? I’ll explain.

If you remember, when you shot at one of the ducks in Duck Hunt, the screen would flash for a split second, and the duck would either plummet to Earth like a fallen angel, or continue flying around, oblivious to your vain attempts to destroy it. I always just assumed that the flash was for dramatic effect, but it turns out that it was the key to the Nintendo Zapper’s closely guarded secrets.

Instead of emitting an infrared blast every time the trigger is pulled, the Zapper housed a small sensor that could pick up the flashing screen. If you watched closely you would see that, every time the screen flashed, the duck(s) would be surrounded by a box that was a different color than the background. If the Zapper was pointed at one of the ducks when the trigger was pulled, it would register that the color was different, and thus score a hit. All of this would take place so quickly that, unless you knew what to look for, you would never notice.

1 comment:

finally said...

now i can die