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Custom Namco Happ gun

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.

When it comes to replacement guns for arcade systems two controllers earned a great reputation and can be found in arcades worldwide. The lesser known is the Recoil SF-X made by Coin-op Spares. The most common replacement gun however is the 45 Cal. made by SUZOHAPP. This gun is usually just referred to as "Happ gun". Historically the gun originates from 1995 when former Atari Games, then called Time Warner Interactive, made a light gun for the arcade game "Area 51". One year later WMS fused Midway with Time Warner Interactive. Happ bought Midway Amusement Games in 2001 before merging with Suzo in 2004.

The design of the Happ gun hasn't changed much over the years. Most notably the grip has become wider. The gun looks almost insultingly simple with its huge grip plate and the plain surfaces. The shell is amongst the thickest I have ever seen. It comes to no surprise that it is very sturdy. The gun is pleasant to hold and the sight picture is clear. The half size micro switches give the trigger a nice tactile feeling. A force feedback variant exists which has a solenoid valve inside the handle.

The compatibility of the Happ gun is amazing. Some of the shown games require a foot pedal wired to the arcade board in order to account for the lack of secondary buttons and some of the games require a wire adapter. Devices such as the "OptiGun Adapter" by David Foley or the "USB2GUN" which derived thereof and the R0R3 "USB Optical Light Gun Interface Board" allow the player to use Happ guns on PC.

While I like the 45 Cal. for what it is, I don't have much respect for modern SUZOHAPP as a company. As SUZOHAPP knowingly sells counterfeit items while having a delivery time of over two months, it wouldn't matter much if one bought straight light gun reproductions of dedicated machines from China instead as an alternative.

I had a Happ gun which lacked the back sights and had a broken lens. I decided to remove the PCB to build my very own custom Happ compatible arcade light gun. When looking for suitable shells I found an auction for a dirty old gun controller which stole my heart. The gun was made for Namco's Lucky & Wild. Although it looks like a light gun it is not. Many arcade games back in the day used so called positional guns which were directly attached to the cabinet in a way which still allowed for some pivoting and movement. Some of these guns did not contain any light sensors what so ever but measured the movement of a stick which was attached to the gun, similarly as if I would strap a gun controller to a joystick which pays attention to the trigger. Therefore the gun was closed in the front and I had to drill a hole myself.

From a distance the Lucky & Wild gun resembles the Happ gun, although it precedes Area 51 by two years. The resemblance is curious as the Happ gun was inspired by the Colt 1911 whereas the Lucky & Wild gun took design elements of the Beretta 92.

I use a biconvex lens made of fused silica. In order to be able to place the light sensor into the focal point of the lens I had to desolder the diode and prolong its legs. For the trigger I use a full size micro switch made by Cherry. I opted to not close the big hole in the bottom of the grip to remind myself of the positional gun origin of the controller.

Personally I am very happy about this gun. It turned out quite well and it is very unique. The sight picture is clear and the trigger feels great. The outstanding compatibility of the Happ PCB will allow me to use this gun on plenty of games and hopefully soon I will be able to use it on PC.