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Slow Mo Guys show how the Nintendo Light Zapper works

Zapper in front of a CRT. (Image: Slow Mo Guys)
Zapper in front of a CRT. (Image: Slow Mo Guys)
Nintendo's NES Zapper is a fairly simple light gun, but interesting enough to be the focus of an analysis by the Slow Mo Guys. High-speed cameras allow for a detailed breakdown in a YouTube video.

The Slow Mo Guys, or more correctly, just one of the two, have taken a closer look at Nintendo's Zapper light gun. Gavin Free, one of the two hosts of the YouTube channel, took a high-speed camera to pinpoint what was happening on a CRT TV. He used Duck Hunt for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

Thanks to the high-speed camera and slow motion playback, Free shows when Nintendo's light gun detects a hit. Back in the day, and we're talking about the mid-1980s here, the Zapper Lightgun was a fairly simple controller that plugged into the NES.

What is important here is what the console renders on the CRT. The light gun's camera only looks for a white square that the player has to hit. The console thus first replaces the ducks in Duck Hunt with a black screen and then renders a gray square.

If the zapper's camera sees this square, then the player has hit it. There is no actual recognition of an element, which was sufficient for the time. Using comparatively simple technology, a well-functioning light gun was introduced to the living room.

Recording took place at up to 1.75 million FPS, far more than would have been necessary, but Free also shows the structure of the lines of a CRT. Images constructed on his CRT do so at a speed of just over 39,000 km/h.

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Andreas Sebayang, 2023-12- 7 (Update: 2023-12- 7)