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In this episode I want to talk about my favorite third party light gun. With third party I specifically mean a company that distributes or produces guns but isn't developing light gun games themselves not counting flash games. It was sold by Logic3 as Laser Blaster P99L and by Dragonplus as Zero Force Laser Gun.
The controller is based on the Walther P99 pistol. Similarly as with the Walther PPK the design was used for a slew of other light guns by various manufacturers. Famously Joytech's later entries into their Sharpshooter series were all based on the P99. In most cases however the specific series I am going to show in this video is vastly superior in quality to the Sharpshooter series.
The first P99 model I am aware of was sold by Logic3. It is called P99K Light Blaster. Besides silver, it was also available in black and in blue. It was made for the Sony PlayStation and can be used in normal gun mode and in Guncon mode. The trigger feels a little bit scratchy but overall it is very nice and tactile. The gun has the A and B buttons at a similar position as the Namco Guncon. The slide release lever is mapped to A. On one side of the gun are switches to set the speed for auto fire and reloading independently. Besides the usual normal, auto fire and auto fire plus auto reload there is a so called set mode. In set mode the player can adjust the number of bullets in the magazine, which is used for auto reload mode. In the magazine heel is a TS socket which can be used for a reload pedal. On the P99K the on/off switch for the force feedback is also here. On all later entries of the series this switch is located at the side of the gun, removing the set magazine capacity functionality. The force feedback of the P99K is fast, powerful and not very loud. Sadly it wasn't compatible to the small PSone model of the Sony PlayStation. Presumably energy consumption was too high. This compatibility issue was solved with the arrival of the P99G2 model, which possibly used a lower power electro motor for the force feedback.
In the force feedback mechanism a low power electromotor spins a gear which lies in a dented track on the slide. If the gear spins it moves the slide backwards. This motion contracts a spring, which pushes the slide back to the starting position. This mechanism works well and feels very nice. Sadly the models after the P99K suffer of a rather low built quality and the force feedback is prawn to defects after a while. Furthermore the force feedback is typically slower, less intense and louder in the later models. Some models such as the P99D2 have a 1 uF capacitor soldered to the terminals of the electro motor, which increases the intensity of the feedback, but also increases the duration of one cycle. Luckily not everything got worse in later models, as for example all later P99 models had superior accuracy and precision in Guncon mode compared to the P99K.
Logic3 is my favorite third party light gun distributor. But that doesn't mean that it was a great company. They just happened to have a good hand when picking which light gun to distribute. Customer satisfaction was no real factor in their decisions. As many other companies at that time Logic3 frauded the customers with false advertising. A prime example is the claim on the box of the P99G2 that it is Guncon 2 compatible, even though it doesn't sport a USB connector. Guncon 2 support wasn't introduced until the P99D2, at which point quality took a nose dive. The unit I bought new old stock had a bunch of issues. The pedal which came with the gun didn't use a micro switch anymore. Furthermore the function mapped to the pedal didn't work properly: Even if the pedal was kept pressed, the function behaved like the pedal was just briefly tapped. The A and B buttons actuated way before they pressed the internal contacts. The player had to press the buttons very hard to make them work. Even though all other guns in the series have a good or even very good tactile trigger feeling, the P99D2's trigger is barely tactile and moving the trigger feels scratchy. From a distance the P99D2 was the most appealing to me but I can't recommend it at all. Personally I opened it, remapped the pedal, swapped the trigger switch with a cherry micro switch and made the stems of the buttons longer with glue and conductive silver paint. That way I was able to solve the issues and I like using it now.
Luckily the quality rose considerably with the introduction of the P99L. Logic3 changed the name of the guns to Laser Blaster and Dragonplus sold the same controller as Zero Force Laser Gun. These guns don't suffer the specific problems the P99D2 had. The trigger feeling is excellent on those guns, arguably the best in the series. A new addition is a built in laser, the position of which can be adjusted. The laser just lights up, if the gun senses the screen. The final entry to the series was the PS099L which lacks the TS socket and therefore can't be connected to a pedal without modification. Some of the PS099L were compatible with 100 Hz CRTs and told so on the box. The transition between P99L and PS099L was chaotic and Logic3 reportedly put P99L models into PS099L boxes. There was an Xbox version of the Laser Blaster, but I don't know whether it has a TS socket.
Personally I love the P99L and I recommend getting one from any distributor.