When danger threatens your crown jewels, a plastic hunk could make all the difference

super scope 6

Super Scope 6 (1992)

When things go bump in the night and the wife’s jewellery is about to get fleeced by junkie housebreakers, you can forget about any kind of fancy house alarm systems – you need a good weapon under your bed. Of course, if you’re getting burglarized in the United States, you can just charge down with a semi-automatic and blow the goddamned methheads away before they can do the same to you. Here in trendy Europe, we take the much more humane approach of smashing invaders’ skulls instead.

So if it’s got to be a melee weapon, which one to choose for your loadout? Well, I can’t recommend a knife. Worst case scenario, you’ll slash yourself or your docile dog (so much for Fido’s protection) or even end up in a desperate knife fight against someone who has more experience with bladework than you.

One night, a friend of mine heard someone burst into his house and rummage around downstairs before legging it. Not standing for this, my pal grabbed a combat knife he happened to have and they went off in hot pursuit of whichever scumbag entered their home.

Never found him of course, but I asked my mate what exactly he was planning to do with a nasty looking knife if he managed to catch up with the guy. He didn’t really know, and nor did I, but it probably wouldn’t do to stab someone to death with a proper blade, nowhere near your property. So knives are out.

How about some sporting instruments? A tennis racquet won’t quite cut it, but if you happen to have one of those machines that fires out tennis balls at high speed, I suppose you could lure the burglar into a trap and take ’em out with a barrage of tennis balls.

Golf is a bit more like it – if you’re an easily frustrated player like me, you’ve probably smashed a golf club or six against something in anger. So by all means, go all Happy Gilmore on any homebreakers you can catch.

The only problem I can see is that even just one or two full-force whacks from a golf club can leave it bent into a shape more resembling a paraplegic T-Rex’s spine than a deadly weapon. I’m not sure even a driver, which is bloody powerful and would probably leave your opponent comatose, can stand up to much battering scrutiny.

For that purpose, you can’t beat a bit of firm wood – or maybe that’s exactly what you were doing when the thieves burst in. In that case, you’ve got three regional variants to choose from: in the US, you can employ a baseball bat. In the UK you could use a cricket bat. And here in Ireland, just to be different, we use a hurl, otherwise known as a hurley, which we use in one of our national sports called stick fighting.

You don’t have to feel “region locked” by this choice either – cricket is getting more popular in Ireland, for example. And you don’t even have to be Protestant to play it anymore, either. You could also plump for a baseball bat, but everyone, including the authorities, will know that the only reason you own one is to crack skulls. I wonder what baseball bat sales figures this side of the pond are like? How many baseballs have been sold, against the number of bats sold? I’d love to know.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the choice of tool to cause brain-damage with? Well fear not because I have the one you need. It’s called the Super Scope, and it was designed for use with early Super Nintendo games before getting quietly pushed aside, only to return as an ever-present item in Smash Bros of all things. The Scope, to put it bluntly, is an enormous plastic bazooka with a scope-implement attached, enabling you to fire precision rocket blasts.

You might think I’m cheating, since I’d already ruled out guns as a means of home protection, so you’d be forgiven for assuming that means all ordnance is out of the picture as well. As if the Americans wouldn’t use hand grenades to ward off burglars.

But I actually don’t recommend you fire a single shot from your Super Scope at anybody, because ammo is a big consideration – this thing wants six batteries at a time, and they better all have plenty of juice in them because the Super Scope will drain the batteries in very short order indeed.

No, your better bet is to pistol-whip, or I suppose scope-whip, assailants with the thing. It’s some pretty sturdy plastic, so she’ll hold together. You can also activate the Turbo button for some turbo-whipping, if you think it’ll take more than a few smacks for the robber to change his mind.

I suppose if you’re gonna be toting a bazooka around your living room, it would serve you well to have at least a little bit of training under your belt. So let’s look at the official training programme, Super Scope 6 – a selection of six minigames on your SNES, designed to familiarise you with your new rocket launcher. Broadly speaking, there’s three cuddly puzzly games, and three hardcore shooting games. Importantly, the shooting games feature sexy anime lieutenants, albeit only for a few brief seconds.

Before getting to the games, you’re invited to test your aim. Ah, it gets a bit tricky here – the Scope only works on CRT tellies, so essentially nothing from the last twenty years. You just have to hope that your burglars are actually three 1970s televisions in a trenchcoat, otherwise you might as well throw your cricket bat at them for all the accuracy you’ll be afforded.

Even on a proper TV, your calibration shot will hit the bullseye, all looking good. But then your follow-up test shot will fly all over the place. Still, no need to worry. Guns & Ammo magazine, of which I’m a regular subscriber, tells me that trying for accuracy with a rocket launcher is something only pinkos and Democrats do.

Anyway, needs must, time to train that trigger finger and figure out which way the Scope should point. The three puzzle games on the cartridge are found under an umbrella title called Blastris – yes, it’s Tetris with Bazookas. No, I’m afraid it isn’t very fun.

There’s both a horizontally and vertically-planed version, though the vertical version is more like Connect-4. You’ll use the Scope to blast away bits you don’t want as they fall, with funky music playing in the background. So if you’ve been foiled for the millionth time by those blasted Z- and S-shaped Tetriminoes, here’s your chance for revenge.

There’s a whack-a-mole game, also played with a rocket launcher, rather than a traditional hammer. You need precision aiming here, and you’re not gonna get it, but it’s still the best of the Blastris games. I’m not so sure what whack-a-mole has to do with Tetris, but then again, it’s probably closer to the mark than whatever Tetris Attack was trying to be.

Accidentally hit LazerBlazer in the menu though, and you’re taken to three far better games: Intercept, where you need to shoot down missiles before they go offscreen and somehow blow up in your face; Engage, where you’re travelling at a zillion miles an hour and trying to take out enemy ships and missiles before they whack you in the face; and Confront, where it’s a far more straight-forward rigmarole of shooting down alien fighters before they can let rip at you.

Take five hits in any of these modes and you’re brown bread, and presumably you’re earth’s last hope and all that cobblers. Although since this is a nice colourful Nintendo game, the anime lieutenants will just give you a kiss and a bit of TLC and you can go back out and join the war effort once more.

You can keep at it indefinitely too, or at least until those batteries run out. After that, you’re left with a paperweight that you might as well feed to the burglars if you’re gonna stop them.

Wouldn’t you much rather smash a cricket bat against their head, Shaun of the Dead style? Especially if you can get all the force and trauma triangulated onto the burglar’s temple via the fat, pointy end of the bat. Hit them hard enough and their heads may even explode. Keep the Super Scope and its companion game in your room if you like, but don’t expect to get much use out of it. I doubt anyone would want to steal it, either.

27 November 2020

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