In 1992, Nintendo introduced the Super Scope, an accessory for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Following in the steps of its predecessor, the NES Zapper, it acted like a gun which which the player could fire at on-screen targets.
Although the NES Zapper had resembled some sort of futuristic handgun (assuming that the future has lots of grey and orange plastic), the Super Scope was more akin to a bazooka. As video game accessories went, it would dwarf a child using it. The gun was about two and a half feet long, with a handle at the front and a shoulder rest at the back, as well as a scope on top (justifying its name). It had two buttons: fire and pause. There was also a power switch which could set the gun to Turbo Mode.
Unlike any other first-party Nintendo console accessory at the time, the gun was wireless: it took 6 AA batteries (they drained in about 4 hours, necessitating a power switch on the device) and had a receiver which was plugged into the Super Nintendo. At the beginning of each play session, the player had to calibrate the receiver and then swear a blood oath not to move: small movements could make the gun stop working. During play, the gun would detect light on the television screen and then transmit what it had found to the receiver.
It is noteworthy that while the NES Zapper only really transmitted data to the NES after firing, the Super Scope was in constant communication with the console, which could have allowed developers to greatly enhance the functionality of the gun: pointing offscreen could have a meaning, pointing at a “reload” icon without firing could have a meaning, a crosshair could be displayed onscreen, and so on. However, Super Nintendo developers never took real advantage of this feature..
For a variety of reasons, the Super Scope was a failure. The critics hated it, consumers didn’t really buy it, and few developers made a single compatible game. Many Super Scope owners had only the bundled game, Super Scope 6. However, it is apparent that Nintendo took a lot to heart with the Super Scope: we have not seen a similar first-party accessory since, although (at the time of this writing) it seems that the Revolution controller has taken a few cues from the better-conceived aspects of the Super Scope, including its wireless transceiver.
My personal opinion: it's a shame it didn’t turn out better. The Super Nintendo had the power to handle fun (if simplistic) gun-based games. Several of the games made for use with the controller (notably Tin Star) were fine games which were, in fact, quite a lot less fun when played with the standard controller. And it has been proven repeatedly since the Super Scope that light gun games can be a lot of fun and that the accessory doesn't need to be large and unwieldy.
The Super Scope made a reappearance with the release of Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube, in which a player can use it to fire small energy balls. It can either be fired rapidly and pin down an opponent (causing a new generation of gamers to resent the accessory), or be charged up and fired at full power for a powerful energy ball which will instantly kill many opponents and earn a special “Bullseye KO” bonus.
Please note: the accessory itself is called the Super Scope and the game pak which comes with it is the Super Scope 6, as it contains 6 playable games.
A complete list of Super Scope-compatible games: