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What would you think if somebody attached a Wii sensor bar onto a gun controller and placed the Wii Remote onto the TV? Some of you possibly feel this is a stupid idea. But what if I told you that a whole company sold guns which were pretty much like this more than one year before the Nintendo Wii was released?
The RGT:G1 is a light gun which is compatible to any kind of monitor or projector. It supports Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox. It was released by e-real games in May 2005. RGT stands for Realistic Game Technology. E-real games planned to release several different motion controllers under this banner. Similarly as with a Wii a light sensor pays attention to the relative distance and angle of two infrared reference lights. One of these IR LEDs is located at the lower barrel at the front of the gun and the other one is at the detachable antenna like looking attachment at the top. This is footage of an infrared camera filming the gun to give an idea of how the tracking works.
The G1 looks like a fusion of a pump action shotgun and a pistol. Besides the D pad all action buttons are located at the left hand side of the gun. The C or Y button is bigger than the rest. Start and Select are located at the top of the On/Off switch of the gun. On the opposite side of the round B and A/X buttons are two calibration buttons called H calibration and S calibration. The sole purpose of S calibration is to transmit the prior gained calibration information to the PlayStation 2 in order to circumvent the in game GunCon 2 calibration routines. H calibration triggers the actual calibration of the hardware. The trigger uses a clicky, tactile push button. On the heel of the magazine is the battery compartment. The gun is powered by two AA batteries.
The viewing angle of the light sensor can be adjusted in the vertical plane. If the gun points outside of the monitored area a red LED lights on. A green LED quickly flashes if a button input of the gun is sensed. Around the light sensor two yellow LEDs appear during calibration and guide were to shoot at the screen.
The manual states multiple times that the G1 shouldn't be held like a proper gun and that the user should attempt to shoot from the hip instead. Considering that proper aiming isn't possible anyways as the lamp at the top obstructs the sight picture, it is easy to obey. The button placement seems to reflect the recommended stance too, as the buttons are located rather far in the front of the gun.
In my opinion the gun looks and much like a toy. Even though the build quality is high and the gun is sturdy, it looks flimsy. Besides black and red several other color variations were made. A player 2 gun exists which is blue and black. For the US marked orange guns were made. Furthermore I have seen green and black guns.
Without proper means of aiming, it is hard to evaluate the accuracy and precision of the gun. I felt that the aim tracking was quite choppy and it felt quantized rather than stepless. Furthermore I feel there is a notable delay. The accuracy isn't the same for the whole screen and the offset seems to change a lot depending where the gun is pointing at, which is not unlike aiming is with a Wii Remote. For some reason the gun worked better on the Xbox. All described problems were present too, but ever so slightly less pronounced. Interestingly in Guncon 2 mode there are slight dead zones at all borders of the screen but the left side. It seems the gun transmits coordinates up to a certain point, but then suddenly stops although the tracking between light sensor and reference lights is still in the valid range.
E-real games had big plans for their RGT motion tracking and was also working on a sword and a boxing controller. In essence it was a Wii before the Wii. I am happy to own this interesting and obscure light gun but I wouldn't recommend to actually play with it. To me, the Topgun series made by EMS, which also started before the release of the Nintendo Wii, is a much better alternative.
I like the box design a lot. It is subtle and elegant but still very intriguing. The claim "first light gun for any TV" is of course false, as this honor goes to the Philips Peacekeeper Revolver.
Unlike usually this is not the end of the episode as the story of the G1 continued. Initial feedback of customers and the press were good and e-real games was asked to make a PC version of the gun. Personally I think today it wouldn't be a hassle to use the gun on PC as for programs like WinGun and Guncon2PC, but e-real games were quick to announce that they have started development. The gun was planned to be named Firehawk and vaguely resembled a Desert Eagle. For some reason development stopped and the gun wasn't released. Recently I discovered how the project went on independently of e-real games. It seems a Chinese manufacturer picked up the idea of the Firehawk to build the TPP-1 light gun which is used with several smart TVs made by Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp as part of the TVPlay series. On these TVs games such as Duck Hunt and Major Mayhem which I reviewed in episode 60 are available. E-real games and its successor company Iconic-Corp weren't involved in this venture as I learned from an email conversation with Iconic-Corp.
It seems at the last minute it was decided that instead of the RGT technology, motion tracking, similar as it was with the Phillips Peacekeeper Revolver, should be used. The top portion of the gun which was supposed to hold an IR LED is therefore empty. In old photos I was able to find a prototype which has the LED still in place.
Upon plugging the reference lights into a computer a driver installs on Windows 10, but sadly the gun can't be used with a PC out of the box. I have read that a PC SDK exists for the successor gun and therefore I still have hope that eventually a program which yields compatibility will leak.
The TPP-1 feels very nice. One action button is placed at each side. The slide can be retracted to press a button. The trigger feels great, which comes to no surprise as a clicky tactile micro switch is used. The magazine eject button actually ejects a magazine which is the holder for the three double AA batteries the gun runs of. The shell has lots of details, pretty serrations and comes in a subtle gold tone.
What supports my thesis that the TPP-1 was influenced by the Firehawk is the fact that the successor of the TPP-1, which is an assault rifle, uses the RGT technology. It was made by CamSense and it is also of a very high built quality. This time the player has actual means to aim with the gun as there is a reticle in the scope. A large solenoid valve offers force feedback functionality.
Next time you hear that light gun is dead, tell how people in Asia kept playing until today.