Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Famiclone Light Guns

If there is one genre of games that Famiclones and pirated multi-carts love to adorn themselves with, it has to be light gun games. Such classics as Duck Hunt, and all its hacked variations, Gotcha!, Hogans Alley and many more are some of the most common games I find on multi-carts. That means there is one accessory almost every Famiclone has to include in some shape or form, the light gun.

Through testing nearly every light gun I own I can safely say they all work pretty much the same, so I'm not going to bother doing a proper review. But I am going to go over the different kinds I own and give a bit of an explanation about them. Many different Famiclones come with many different shaped, colored and sized light guns, so here is my collection.

First up are what I like to call the System Light Guns. These are the handheld consoles, such as the Power Joy and MaxxPlay, that are a console and light gun in one unit. Even though the MaxxPlay already has a light gun in the console unit, the controller for player 2 is the exact same shape and has a light gun built in as well. A bit excessive if you ask me, but all of the System Light Guns I've used are accurate and comfortable.
Next are the daisy chained controllers for the Power Joy Voyager. For some reason mine have stopped working, which upset me greatly. These are unique little controllers. One controller is perfectly normal, but the other one is a bit elongated and has a trigger and barrel integrated for the light gun feature. Being as small as it is, this is a bit uncomfortable in my hands, personally, but isn't completely useless.
One of the most popular light guns included with Famiclones has to be what I call the Panther, because it's written across almost all of them. Molded after a real handgun (I have no clue which), this one is probably the most comfortable light gun design I've used. The only problem I have is that the orange one doesn't work properly with any of my Famiclones, all it does it reset the console. I suppose if I needed a remote reset button that would be perfect, but I would prefer a bright orange light gun. 
Next is a knew one for me, this one is molded off the Lethal Enforcers arcade gun, I believe. It's very comfortable, but I haven't fully tested this one for accuracy or even if it works! Yeah, I'm a bit lazy, but it looks cool.
Lastly we come to my personal favorite, at least in terms of looks. Up to this point all of the light guns have used the standard DB-9 style connector. This one, however, uses the Famicom style connector. Sadly this one is broken; the internal switching mechanism is poorly thought out, even for Chinese Famiclone standards. I've seen a few of these online that actually have a small, red, flip up sight in the back, which this one has the holes for. Even though this doesn't work, it's still a very cool Famiclone light gun.

After posting this article I sat down and played around with some of the guns I had not tested, mainly the Lethal Enforcers gun. Out of all the guns I own, the Lethal Enforcers, orange Panther style, as well as the Panther with the brown grips would not work properly. I believe the NES zapper style will work, it just needs a switch installed, which is easier said than done.

The Lethal Enforcers and brown grips version of the Panther may have a component malfunction or are wired weird, so I decided to just let them stay that way until I can investigate further. The orange Panther, however, functioned, yet it would actually glitch out the game once the trigger was pulled. After pulling it apart I immediately found the culprit, but I had to do some testing before I officially decided to do the surgery.
As you can see above, the Famiclone light gun is a very simple system. Just a small board holding the receptor LED with a few other components, wired down to the switch and into the controller cable. What happened with the orange Panther was a case of the switch having an additional wire, for what I do not know.
Normally, when the switch is wired up, only A and B are used. Pressing the switch connects B and C, disconnecting the current from A and B, which sends the signal that the trigger has been pulled and the light gun acts accordingly. But since there was an additional wire connected to C, the light gun sent the signal and created an error, causing the game and console to glitch out.

Once I disconnected the strange wire from terminal C, the proper connection was made and the orange Panther works perfectly fine! I believe it was packaged with the Dreamgear Game Station, but I have some controllers from that system, and they work perfectly fine with my Famiclones, I don't see why the light gun would need to be wired differently, but it was. Perhaps just a fluke, or perhaps this was suppose to only work with that console, either way it was an easy "mod", and it now works perfectly fine with my DB-9 input Famiclones. I just hope I can fix the other three soon. 

1 comment:

  1. this one works with clones