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Bigben Walther P99

The reviews on this site are the text versions of the videos on my YouTube channel. The text based reviews use (if at all) very little pictures. Please follow the link to the corresponding video in order to see in game graphics.

This Walther P99 light gun was distributed by BigBen Interactive. Some of them were distributed with Big Ben's 4gamers label imprinted. The gun was made for the Sony PlayStation 1 & 2. It supports both Guncon modes and normal gun mode.

The gun is officially licensed by Carl Walther and the holder of the exclusivity license Cyber Gun. The resemblance to a real P99 is rather high. This is achieved by hiding some of the functions into existing elements of the gun. The barrel can be moved and severs as a gun mode selector. The slide release lever is a fire mode switch. Normal, auto reload and auto fire plus auto reload are the choices. Six shots is the reload interval. The magazine release lever can be pivoted to press one of two push buttons. It serves either as Start or Select button. The remaining buttons are less hidden for the sake of usability. The A and B buttons are located at the left and the right side respectively which is well suited for Resident evil gun survivor like games. Personally I would have preferred if the buttons were a tad bit further at the front, but overall the location isn't bad. Sadly those two buttons actuate way before the electronic contacts are closed and thus have to be pressed rather hard in order to work reliably. On the handle is a button which is also mapped to A. On the heel of the magazine is the C button. Next to it is a switch which toggles the so called virtual pointer. The D pad is located under the back sight. It is a red dotted joystick recessed in a concave crater.

The virtual pointer is a white dot which appears on the screen as soon as the gun senses light. It is stunningly accurate and precise. The dot disappears if the portion of the screen the gun is pointing at is black or too dark as in these cases the screen position can't be determined. The virtual pointer just works if the console is connected via composite video or YPbPr with the gun's RCA connector between the console and the TV in series. If the gun is connected to this line in parallel by means of a breakout board, the pointer won't appear and yet worse the screen is distorted whenever a shot is fired.

The sight picture is very clear and usable. It is a far cry from the underwhelming sight picture of Big Ben's Nintendo Wii P99 light gun which had a screw punched through the back sight. The trigger is tactile but sadly has a scratchy stiff feeling. This is even more of a disadvantage as the trigger has to travel quite far to close the electronic contact. Force feedback is always engaged and can't be turned off. It is delayed, long and very weak.

The shell has lots of fine details and is of a great built quality. Sadly the same can't be said for the circuits inside. I have bought three of those guns. Two don't work at all and start to rumble upon powering on the console and one is just capable to be used in normal gun mode. I opened the guns and there is no evident reason for this behavior. All capacitors and transistor are fine. I would assume that one or both of the two EPROMS which are hidden underneath black glue quit working. The identity of one IC was sanded away. As suggested in the comments of episode 137 by long time supporter bratwurstspawnbaby I tried to make the labels visible again using paper white and UV light and in a second trail calk power and propan-2-ol. Sadly in this case no text appeared.

In Normal Gun mode the accuracy is good and the precision is decent. B works as start button and A is mapped to the special button.

I like the idea with the virtual pointer very much. It isn't something that I would want to use, but I think this is a much better approach than pointing a visible laser at the screen, as so many other guns do. I am wondering why this feature wasn't used a lot in other guns. Personally I am shocked about the short live span of the used PCB. This beautiful light gun had so much potential which all goes to waste. Especially with the unpleasant trigger and the hard to press A and B buttons I can't recommend this light gun at all. During my repair trials I destroyed one of the PCBs which at least gives me the nice shell as a scaffold for own future developments.

The packaging is very pretty and it folds open to reveal the gun and some descriptions. A text on the back side tells "All shooting games - All technologies" which wasn't true even back then as 100 Hz CRTs were already wide spread.