By Kevin Steele
Update April, 2004: Andy Warne of Ultimarc has tracked down the cause of light gun problems some people were having when using an ArcadeVGA card and a Wells-Gardner D9200 monitor. The review has been updated with this information.
Just as it's not the same playing a trackball game with a mouse, playing a shooting game without a light gun just isn't right. There's nothing quite like stepping back, taking aim, and blowing some alien away with a well placed shot.
Unlike with other arcade controllers, there are only limited light gun choices available for MAME use. This roundup will look at the three MAME-compatible light guns I've found so far: the Act-Labs PC USB Light Gun, the Lik Sang PC Super Bio Gun, and the Lik Sang PC Virtual Gun.
The guns were tested using MAME .76 on both a Viewsonic 17" monitor and a Wells Gardner D9200 27" arcade monitor, under both Windows 98 and Windows XP Home. The test resolutions were 640x480 and below (depending on the MAME game being run), and all tests were done at the recommended 60 Hz.
Each of these light guns is a unique controller from a PC-hardware standpoint: none of the guns requires any special drivers, as each simply emulates a mouse. Pull the trigger, and the computer registers a left-mouse click where you were pointing. It doesn't get much easier than that, so let's take a look at the lineup of contenders for "best MAME light gun."