It is actually pretty amazing that there are so few light gun shooters available on Switch. The Wii, with its motion controlled controller, had plenty “shoot at the screen” games but the Switch Joy Cons have similar functionality. S.N.I.P.E.R. – Hunter Scope is an unexpected but solid on-rails shooter that takes advantage of this under-utilized feature of Nintendo’s system.
The easiest way to describe Baltoro Games’ shooter is to compare it to Time Crisis, Virtua Cop, or even Silent Scope but with its own twist. In addition to a leveling system that unlocks new weapons, characters, and abilities, gameplay also fluctuates between a first person perspective to a 3rd person cover mechanic sort of borrowed from Gears of War. Both modes are built for that specific stage and it is interesting to see both options available in an arcade experience like this.
It is possible to use the Pro Controller’s analog sticks to aim and shoot but players would be short changing their experience. Instead, aiming at the screen using the motion control of both Joy Cons is far and away the way to go. There is something cool about aiming at the screen, zooming to line up that headshot, then slamming the trigger button to earn each kill. This is an arcade experience so action is fast, the violence is humorous, and the characters are cartoony.
There are some unfortunate issues that hold back the overall experience from being something truly great. First is the difficulty. Even the early stages can provide a stiff challenge even after leveling. Enemies pop into the play field but always shoot too fast, giving the player almost no time to react let along line up a shot. Because of this, the experience seems like it was made for two-player co-op but the entire game is single player only. Enemies can also cheaply skip frames and basically teleport into shooting position. When playing the 3rd person stop-and-pop behind cover stages, it is possible to line up a shot but when the character moves from behind cover, the cursor moves a little, often resulting in a misfire. This camera transition makes the game even more difficult.
The steep difficulty becomes a little more tolerable thanks to the wealth of unlockables. Not only are their new weapons to unlock that contain their own pros and cons, new characters, and bonuses can also be purchased. In fact, there is so much to unlock, with each item carrying a high price, the overall experience can become overly grindy. The short and repetitive soundtrack also doesn’t do the game any favors but at least there are dozens of built-in Achievements that also reward the player with currency instead of just increasing pride. Each stage also opens with a deeply voice announcer exclaiming “FIGHT!” as if this was a Mortal Kombat title. It is totally unnecessary but glad it is there.
S.N.I.P.E.R. – Hunter Scope is probably one of the best lightgun experiences on a modern console you can have and beats digging out that Konami Silent Scope rifle controller from the original Xbox era. Even with the obvious flaws, there is a lot of unexpectedly good quality to be had in this arcadey shooter sim. Also, for the skilled and dedicated players, there is some paid Zombie DLC to provide even more content.
Also Try: the Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicle games on Wii or PS3 (with Move support)
Don’t Forget About: Van Helsing Sniper Zx100 (3DS)
Wait For It: the Wii Virtual Console release of Duck Hunt to be put on Switch Online