Now that E3 is here we’re getting some minor details on the GunCon 3, which is to be used for Time Crisis 4. Just looking at the gun we see some major issues, and the least of those is the glaring orange color of the prototype. Unlike the Wii Zapper two-handed configuration what we have here is a handgun with a grip on the left side. When having to hold the gun you’ll be shooting from the hip area, rather than pointing and shooting like the classic arcade Time Crisis games. It’s not the natural way of doing things, and at least the Wii Zapper has you holding the gun SMG style so you can bring it up comfortably to aim. There is also no force feedback in the peripheral, which is a shame because the kick was part of the fun to playing light gun games back in the day.

The biggest problem Namco had to overcome was getting a light gun to work on HDTVs. It’s commonly known that the traditional light gun technology doesn’t work on anything but cathode ray tube televisions (and light bulbs if you were a worthless NES cheater). Old school light guns, like the NES Zapper, worked like this: you pull the trigger and the screen goes momentarily black at which point the Zapper begins detecting what is happening. Then the screen is flashed white to let the console know where the Zapper is pointed. If you remember back to your childhood this is why when playing Duck Hunt the screen flashed each time you pull the trigger. Basically a CRT TV draws the screen from left to right and top to bottom. As the pixels come back in order the light gun detects exactly where you were pointing to determine if you got the shot. Unfortunately this setup does not work with LCD or plasma screens, which draw the whole screen at once.

Infrared emitters are the answer to the problem. The Wii-mote works by using IR. In fact, any infrared source will work with that remote. You could theoretically set up two candles on a television to get it to work. Basically what happens is the position of the “gun” and where it’s pointing is calculated. You are capable of being positioned in 3D space using IR emitters. It takes a bit more processing to do this with only 3 sources; so often in arcades there are 4. This makes it easier to calculate, but the trade off is you don’t have full range of motion. But now we can go back to the glorious days of light gun games. Wait, I think I may have lost my mind.

There are numerous ways light guns can work depending on the technology put into the system. But the essential idea is to somehow tell the computer where the gun is and what it’s pointing at. If you can figure that out, then you’re golden. Namco uses two IR sensor bars – one on each side of the screen – to calculate this. Because it doesn’t use the display screen at all the GunCon 3 will work on any television of any size. So if you want to get your Time Crisis on you won’t have to worry about it not working. Now we just need to speak with someone about a little force feedback.

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