MARS brings arcade-style light gun gaming to consoles

Games utilizing light guns are very popular at the arcades in the past and present, but many gamers can remember the time when the NES Zapper made it popular for home consoles with games like Duck Hunt. Fast-forward to today and PDP Gaming has released MARS, the point-and-shoot light gun home console package that aims to bring back the fun of shooting bad guys at the arcades. It’s now available in three different bundles for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

There are three exclusive games to choose: Voyage of the Dead, Qubit’s Quest, or Big Buck Hunter. To get started, you’ll need the MARS Starter Pack, which includes the game of your choice, a Lightcon, and an IR Station.

Voyage of the Dead

Voyage of the Dead is an on-rails zombie shooter where you can play up to 4 players. There are different character choices and different modes including the story mode. The characters find themselves on a cruise ship, but soon they’ll encounter a zombie outbreak, and they’ll need to shoot to survive. Like any typical on-rails light gun shooter, you’ll need to shoot a bunch of zombies before they attack you. There will be moments where you’ll need to save civilians, and you can switch weapons by shooting at the glowing weapons placed throughout the level. The main mode is the campaign mode, but there are other modes including Versus mode to see who can score the highest.

Qubit’s Quest

To change things up, there’s Qubit’s Quest, an action platformer with up to 4 players able to join in on the fun. Your mission is to guide a robotic canine to safety as you shoot enemies around it. The game features co-op campaign and 10 PvP minigames.

Big Buck Hunter: Arcade

Hunting animals have also been a popular genre for arcades with light guns, and PDP Gaming offers Big Buck Hunter: Arcade to fill that void. The franchise is the #1 hunting arcade game, and now you can shoot Whitetail, Moose, and Elk in the comfort of your own room.

The technology of the conventional light gun was made possible with the CRT monitors (time delay wasn’t an issue). To combat this with newer TVs, the Mars bundle comes with an IR station, and you’ll need to place it in front of the TV. You can also use this with projectors and projector screens. Once you start a game, you’ll be taken to a screen that will calibrate the camera with your monitor. Simply place the IR Station on a sturdy ground or table, point it at the screen during calibration to align the camera with the outline of the logo. It can take some time for the camera and monitor to calibrate, but you’ll know when it’s ready when you hear a locking sound. If you’re still having trouble, try moving the camera further away or at a different location.

The Lightcon uses a low power laser, and it’s really accurate. Depending on the game, you can see the crosshairs as you aim at your targets. There is a slight delay when aiming the Lightcon. It still does the job, but if you’re a competitive player, it may annoy you.

Final Reaction

PDP’s MARS is a fun way to bring friends together, but the games can get a bit repetitive when you’re shooting the same enemies over and over again. That’s the nature of light gun gaming, but the novelty of holding something that resembles a weapon compared to a game controller will make you feel like a gun-toting badass. MARS still needs more titles, and we’re hoping there will be a game that will make you feel like John Wick.

Score: 3/5 Atoms

Each MARS Starter Pack bundle retails for $99.99 and includes a Lightcon (light gun), an IR Station (camera), and one of three games. You can get the games separately for $19.99 each and additional Lightcons for $29.99.

The MARS Starter Pack and Lightcons were provided for review purposes.

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