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The Nintendo Zapper is a light gun accessory released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. The light gun was originally released in Japan as the Beam Gun for the Famicom in 1984 and was revamped when it was brought over to North America.

The Beam Gun released on February 18, 1984 and was bundled with the game, Wild Gunman. The accessory resembled the look and feel of a revolver handgun and even sported a holster for use in the game for quick draws.

Wild Gunman Famicom Beam Gun Set

Zapper Grey Box
DeveloperNintendo R&D1
PlatformNintendo Entertainment System
Family Computer
Japanese VersionBeam Gun
North American VersionZapper
Hardware TypeLight Gun
ReleaseJP: February 18, 1984
NA: October 18, 1985
Development TimeTBD
Sales29 Million

The decision was made to redesign the peripheral and rebrand it as the Nintendo Zapper with the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America. The redesigned light gun resembled a futuristic science fiction ray gun with a color scheme that matched the Nintendo Entertainment System. Originally released in North America with a dark gray barrel and grip, in 1988 the Federal Toy Gun Law was put in place requiring toy guns to be visually distinct from real guns in a variety of ways, including color. Due to the new law Nintendo changed the color of the barrel and grip of the Zapper in 1989 to Orange.

NES Zapper GreyNES Zapper Orange

When Nintendo introduced the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America it did so with the inclusion of the Zapper. It came bundled in with the Nintendo Action Set, a launch bundle released in October 1985 that contained the Nintendo Entertainment System console, the Zapper and two games, Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros. included in a multicart. The Zapper was later made available as a stand along product which could be purchased separately from the system.

Action Set Box

The light gun peripheral allowed players to aim at their television sets and shoot at various objects that appeared on the screen making for a more realistic experience. The accessory could be used with 17 license games and 6 unlicensed games that were developed for the light gun peripheral.

In the 1989 animated cartoon series “Captain N: The Game Master”, the main character uses the Zapper as a weapon. The gun fires laser blasts which are used to destroy enemies and also had a freeze-ray option which fires a Tetris shaped block of ice that traps enemies inside a cube of ice.

The Zapper was extremely successful with over 29 million units sold, making it one of the most successful game accessories. Nintendo revived the zapper name decades later with the release of the Wii Zapper peripheral, a plastic casing for a Wii Remote and Nunchuk that allowed players to hold the controllers like a gun.

Famicom Beam Gun & an overview on how the Nintendo Zapper works

DateBoxTitleDeveloperPublisherGenreAdditional Details
1985Duck Hunt BoxDuck HuntNintendo R&D1
Intelligent Systems
NintendoLight Gun Shooter
1985Hogan's Alley BoxHogan's AlleyIntelligent SystemsNintendoLight Gun Shooter
1985Wild Gunman BoxWild GunmanNintendo R&D1
Intelligent Systems
NintendoLight Gun Shooter
1986Gumshoe BoxGumshoeNintendo R&D1NintendoPlatformer
Light Gun Shooter
1987Gotcha! The Sport! BoxGotcha! The Sport!AtlusLJNLight Gun ShooterRequires Gun and Controller
1988Freedom Force BoxFreedom ForceSunsoftSun Corporation of AmericaLight Gun Shooter
1989The Adventures of Bayou Billy BoxThe Adventure of Bayou BillyKonamiKonamiBeat 'em up
Gun Optional
1989Operation Wolf NES BoxOperation WolfTaitoTaitoShooterGun Opertional
1989Shooting Range BoxShooting RangeTOSEBandaiShoot 'em up
1989Space Shadow Hyper Shot BoxSpace ShadowBandaiBandaiLight Gun Shooter
1989To The Earth BoxTo The EarthCirque VerteNintendoShoot 'em up
1989Track and Field II BoxTrack & Field IIKonamiKonamiSportsGun Compatible
1989Baby Boomer BoxBaby BoomerColor DreamsColor DreamsShooterUnlicensed Game
Gun Opertional
1990Barker Bill's Trick Shooting BoxBarker Bill's Trick ShootingNintendo R&D1NintendoLight Gun Shooter
1990Mechanized Attack BoxMechanized AttackSNKSNKShooterGun Opertional
1990Chiller BoxChillerExidyExidy
American Game Cartridges
Light Gun ShooterUnlicensed Game
1991Laser Invasion BoxLaser InvasionKonamiKonamiShooterGun Opertional
1991The Lone Ranger BoxThe Lone RangerKonamiKonamiAction-AdventureGun Opertional
1992Day Dreamin' Davey BoxDay Dreamin' DaveySculptured SoftwareHAL LaboratoryActionGun Optional
1992Strike WolfStrike WolfTXCMicro GeniusShooterUnlicensed Game
Gun Opertional
19933-in-1 Supergun Box3-in-1 SupergunChengdu Tai Jing Da Dong Computer CoMicro GeniusLight Gun ShooterUnlicensed Game
1997Blood of Jurassic BoxBlood of JurassicInventorShanghai Paradise & TechnologyLight Gun ShooterUnlicensed Game
2017Super Russian RouletteSuper Russian RouletteBatlab ElectronicsBatlab ElectronicsLight Gun ShooterUnlicensed Game
Requires Gun and Controller

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