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Menacer 6-Game Cartridge

Genre: Light Gun Developer: Western Tech. Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1 Released: 1992

We all know how it came along. With the success light guns had on the NES and the Sega Master System, it seemed only obvious that the next generation of systems would bring along a new set of aforementioned peripherals. We already pretty much know the storied history of the short war of the SuperScope Vs. Menacer, what isn’t mentioned as much is the Menacer’s pack-in cart. A simple effort consisting of six games only compatible with the gun.

We start off with a slightly techno-sounding mix as the Menacers logo hits the screen, soon followed by the menu for the carts six games. They are as follows: Rockman’s Zone, Space Station Defense, Ready, Aim, Tomatoes! (AKA the ToeJam and Earl game), Pest Control, Whack Ball, and Front Line. Using the guns Accu-Site, you could simply shoot the desired game title to start playing.

Rockman’s Zone: Let’s start out with a personal favorite of mine, Rockman’s Zone. A somewhat predecessor of Virtua Cop, you aim your Menacer around a city sidewalk, using various cardboard pictures as targets. You are now an officer in training and must know when to shoot and when not to shoot. Usual targets include criminals of various heights and the occasional dog if I remember correctly. Be careful though, the game takes away point for aimless shooting, so simply holding shoot wont work here. Also, sometimes the game throws a curve ball in their in the form of the occasional child or women (why they can’t be bank robbers as well seems a bit odd, but that’s another talk for another day). Shoot the women and children and you lose point you may have earned for perfect accuracy. After a few minutes though, you can easily lose interest in training, especially when you’ve done it enough to memorize the patterns.

Space Station Defense: A simple game of follow the pattern with an alien twist. As the various alien pods appear on the landscape, shoot them in the order they appear, which is when their pod opens and before they shoot back. The period between them appearing and them shooting back seems very long in the first few levels, but it soon becomes quicker as levels go on, soon becoming so fast that you soon realize that the fun has disappeared. This game becomes the one game you’ll probably play the quickest, if not the least at all.

Ready, Aim, Tomatoes!: The most memorable of the 6 games, and for good reason. It had been a year or so since ToeJam and Earl hit the Genesis, and a couple years before Panic on Funkotron would become the sequel, so many fans and hopefuls were happy to see a brand new TJ & E game. What they got was one of the better (if not the best) games on the whole compilation. You power a sling shot with tomatoes as you shoot back at various enemies from ToeJam and Earl. This is also one of the more challenging because instead of simply pointing and shooting, you’re actually holding back the tomato, and have to really know where it will go with each aim, and sometimes it can actually get frustrating when you keep missing. What also makes this game better than most is that there’s an actual life bar, meaning that the bad guys you shoot at actually shoot back! When the life bar’s gone, the games over. All the fine touches show that plenty of effort was put into this one.

Whack Ball: The only game that’s less shooter and more about simply using the target spot from the gun to knock the ball around. It sounds easy in the beginning, move the ball around at the right spots to get more points. Soon though, you’ll start to get frustrated, and really see the reasons the Menacer never really did what it was supposed to do. The guns classicly-screwy controls come out here, especially when too close to the screen. In later levels, it gets harder, like it should, but it just stops being fun almost too quickly.

Frontline: The game everyone was waiting for with their new gun. A game that’s really nothing more than hold the shoot button and target anything that moves. Using one of the front trigger buttons shoots the occasional missile, but your normal gun is most of the time more than enough to get you where you need to be. I wish there would have been more to this game. Even for a simple demo game on a compilation, it’s still a bit empty feeling, if that makes sense.

Pest Control: We end today with a game featuring spotlights, guns, bugs, pizza, and colorful table cloths. The game? Pest Control. You have been hired to smoke out all the hundreds of little beetles who live in the home, and who have a thing for pizza. As you control the spotlight with the gun, you take out all the bugs before the pizza is eaten. It seems easy enough, but soon you’ll be losing more games because of those damn bugs eating the pizza while you trying cornering two big guys (who can explode into smaller bugs on one shot) in the upper corner. There is a button to see the whole table, but it’s only a temporary help. Overall, it’s one of the games better showings. The beetles crawling around remind me of a seen from Borat.

Well, that’s about it. Comparisons could be brought between Wii Sports and the Menacer 6-Game Cartridge, but I think by the time you read this, the Wii will have had a longer life span than the Menacers, so we can really see who did the point and shoot genre better! In the end, I still wish the Menacer could have made it big. Who knows what sort of games could have worked out (imagines Zero Tolerance and Minnesota Fats being played with a Menacer). I wonder how it would have worked on the Nomad.

SCORE: 5 out of 10

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