The Sega Genesis Gun – The Menacer
Before motion control sensors, gamers only had one option to get their arcade shooter fix at home – light guns. These devices were pretty common during the early days of Nintendo and Sega. Most people would probably recognize the “Duck Hunt Gun”, which used the same technology. But many probably aren’t aware of the Sega equivalent light gun. This new iteration of light gun, known as the “Menacer”, gave players less of the classic pistol look and more of a space-age blaster.
Nintendo always seemed ahead of Sega in terms of technology, and that held true with light guns. Many would recognize the Nintendo Super Scope from Super Smash Bros., which is taken from the real peripheral that prompted Sega into making their own version.
Released in 1992, the gun initially sold as a bundle with the Menacer 6-Game Cartridge, but was later repackaged with other games due to the financial failure of the cartridge. One of the notable games that shipped with the Menacer was Terminator 2: The Arcade Game, which has been held as the best title ever compatible with the Menacer. The peripheral sold for an extra $59.99, meaning it was as expensive as just buying a cartridge, which may have turned some people away from it.
In total, eight games were released that were compatible with the Menacer, including the Menacer 6-Game Cartridge. The low support of support was due to poor sales of the hardware, and only two of the games can be played on the original Genesis without the addition of a 32X or Sega CD.
The Menacer was somewhat similar in design to Nintendo’s Super Scope, except with a modular design. There were three key parts to the Menacer, the main pistol section that held the hardware, twin sights, and a removable stock which made aiming the gun like a rifle easier.
Instead of a wired setup, the Menacer used a receiver that was connected in the second controller port in order to relay signals back to the Genesis. The Menacer did require six triple-A batteries, but had a decent battery life. The gun itself communicated accuracy by reading the scan lines of the TV. This means that the gun will only function with CRT televisions, so retro gamers will need the old hardware to experience this peripheral again.
We touched briefly on the games that were compatible with the Menacer earlier, but here’s a more in-depth look at notable titles and their features.
Menacer 6-Game Cartridge
This cartridge contained a collection of shooting gallery style games which outlined the features of the hardware as well as providing some fun action with familiar characters. The six games were Ready, Aim, Tomatoes!, Rockman’s Zone, Space Station Defender, Whack Ball, Front Line, and Pest Control. The most notable game in this collection was Ready, Aim Tomatoes!, which was a spin-off of the popular game ToeJam & Earl, where the player fires tomatoes at enemies from the series.
Terminator 2: The Arcade Game
Based on the arcade cabinet of the same name, Terminator 2: The Arcade Game was the highest praised title for the Menacer. The title played like a typical rail-shooter where players would travel through multiple war-torn environments and kill various Skynet machines. The title felt like a faithful recreation of the exciting arcade game, without having to spend fistfuls of quarters whenever you lost a life.
Released exclusively for the Sega Channel feature, Body Count is another on-rails shooter where players shoot aliens that have invaded Earth. The only way to play this title was to subscribe to the Sega Channel feature and play the title through there. Unfortunately, this service was discontinued in 1998, so the only way to experience this title again is to find an archived version.
These three titles were the most popular and highest-rated titles for the Menace, and the only titles playable on the original Genesis hardware. The rest of the eight titles were only available for the Sega CD or 32X.