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Shooting Gallery was made by Sega in 1987. It is an early attempt of a light gun game and the second light gun game cartridge to be released on the Sega Master System. The game consists of 24 levels, with reoccurring themes such as shooting ducks, shooting balloons, shooting balls, shooting spaceships and shooting CRTs. If the player misses a shot the subsequent shot will be delayed. That means that fast series of shots are just possible if every shot hits a target. The space ships and CRT’s have a certain vulnerable period and are invincible otherwise. Missing shots are damaging the background. This is why I use Shooting Gallery as best example to explain people the difference between Zapper type light guns and light pen type light guns. Even big shows with views in the half a million range tend to mess this up. Zapper guns just know whether they hit the target or not. Light pens do exactly know where they are shooting at. Because of this it’s easy to draw bullet holes using this technology.
Every level has a minimum number of hits that has to be achieved in order to progress to the next level. If the player fails to do so the game is over without a continue and starts over. Sadly the levels can not be selected. At the end of each level a result screen will be displayed featuring a digitized voice sample telling the word perfect. Visually the game is very impressive and shows a huge amount of animation. Especially the wings of the ducks look charming for an 8 Bit game. I really like the idea of the game within a game esthetic. The accuracy is great for a game without calibration, allowing the player to use the physical sights of the Light Phaser. The music is decent but I found it to become somewhat annoying after prolonged playing.
The game is from a period when Sega tried to be edgy. The back description of the case advertises the game with “Have you got what it takes? [...] Let’s hope so. Because that’s the only way you will survive the Shooting Gallery” fully ignoring the lack of violence and danger in the game. Also there is a Nintendo diss in the Manual comparing its duck levels with Duck Hunt telling “This may seem like an old fashioned shoot em up. But don’t be deceived! Nothing old ever moved so fast” which is in fact wrong, as the ducks in Duck Hunt get pretty fast too.
The cover is nothing terrible, but nothing special either. Personally I dislike this game. I find the score system misleading as the player may achieve a perfect score no matter how many shots missed. The lack of continues makes the game far too difficult. Forcing the player to beat the easy levels over and over again in order to get another chance at the higher more difficult levels is a chore. The game knows exactly how difficult it is and tells in the manual “If you reach round 17 [...] you are a Shooting Gallery expert”. So it seems it isn’t even expected to beat the game at all. I find the levels with the space ships the most fun. But the lack of a level select screen takes out any enjoyment for me. Being difficult is nothing bad but under this conditions I think the game is frustrating. I recommend this game just to people who are not planning to ever beat it and to the most crazy of nerds out there.