The Sega Master System was released in 1986 in North America. It came with a light gun called the Sega Light Phaser. In 1987 Atari released the XE Game System, which is technically a repackaged Atari 8 bit computer with a detachable keyboard and it was marketed as a video game console. It also came with a light gun, the Atari XG-1.
Both systems were the direct competitors of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which started its life in 1983 as the Nintendo Family Computer in Japan, and was later redesigned and released in the rest of the world as the NES in 1985.
The NES came with a light gun known as the NES Zapper and a pack-in game Duck Hunt, which used the light gun. As direct competitors, Atari and Sega’s offerings also came with light guns and light gun games.
While Nintendo’s gun is a simple light detector, both Atari and Sega guns are specialized light pens. They work by detecting the passing of the electron beam in front of their sights, sending an electric pulse to the computer when this happens, allowing it to determine the exact screen coordinates where the gun is pointed at. Sega games like Shooting Gallery take advantage of this superior detection method by displaying bullet holes on the background to represent your misfired shots in their exact positions. Nintendo’s gun can only detect if you’ve hit the (lit up) target, and nothing else. (more…)