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'The Light Shooter' brings experimental 'light bow' gaming to Tokyo Game Show

The Year of the Bow Strikes Again

The Light Shooter
The Light Shooter
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

The Light Shooter brings experimental bow and arrow gameplay to Tokyo Game Show.

With upcoming video game blockbusters like Tomb Raider, Assassin's Creed 3, and Crysis 3 prominently featuring bows and arrows as primary weapons, the coming year has been labeled "The Year of the Bow." At Tokyo Game Show, one project took bow and arrow action out of the game and into the real world. The Light Shooter uses a real bow as its controller.

The Light Shooter is the work of Masasuke Yasumoto, an assistant professor at the Tokyo University of Technology, which had a booth showcasing student projects at TGS.

The "light bow" game plays like other first-person light gun shooters. Simply aim at the screen and fire, but by pulling back and releasing the bow string instead of a trigger. The game tracks aim of the bow, showing an orange reticle onscreen. (Note that the player only wields a bow, not an arrow. The metal rod seen in the picture above is actually a pointer held by an assistant, who was highlighting targets.)

What differentiates The Light Shooter from other light gun shooters is its use of light as a gameplay mechanic. While aiming at the screen, the target area is a dark black, with a jumble of vertices shown in white. When the player launches an arrow the projectile becomes a light source, arcing a small amount of light into the playfield. It's only then, after a shot has been fired, that a player can see potential targets.

Players aim for skeletal humanoids and structures, which crumble using a realistic physics model when fired upon. In addition to a standard shot, a three-way shot can be fired by holding the bow horizontally, gangster archer-style.

The Light Shooter was presented at the Tokyo Game Show's annual "Sense of Wonder Night" and was the winner of the Microsoft Japan Award.

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