As a kid, the only arcade experiences I had centered around the rinky-dink games at my local movie theater. It was the mid 90’s and people were still wrapping their heads around the fact that video games could have a permanent place in the home —my mom used to make me pack away my Super Nintendo in the closest with the rest of my toys when I was done playing with it.
One of the five-or-so games at the theater was a light-gun game. It was poorly calibrated, the graphics were horrible, and I just much preferred to gamble my quarters on something I could tangibly win out of the claw machine.
Later on in life, I discovered that light-gun games, when calibrated right and stuffed with pretty, modern graphics, were actually quite fun. There were a few attempts made by developers to bring the light gun experience home, but nothing ever really stuck. Shooting at your TV screen in your bedroom was never as exciting as shooting down waves of enemies in public while people watched you.
Fast-forward to today, and a team of developers have created a game for modern mobile devices that emulates the light gun experience. This game is Caliber Club, and it may be the closest thing we ever get to a mobile based, light gun game. And that’s saying quite a bit.
In Caliber Club, players are a burgeoning rifleman/riflewoman/riflewhatever-you-want-to-be attempting to get into the prestigious, and fictitious, Caliber Club. The only way in is to trump the Club’s current members in their individual levels, so you’ll have to complete each level’s various goals if you want in. And you do want in — I hear they have the best donuts at their Club meetings.
The light gun experience that Caliber Club promises players is delivered by use of the smartphone/tablet’s gyroscopes built into the device. Thanks to this technology, Caliber Club uses the smartphone/tablet to act as both the light gun, and the actual game.
The experience is hard to describe with words, but I’ll do my best: imagine yourself sitting on your couch, and in front of you is an invisible shooting gallery. Your device’s screen acts like a window which allows you to see into that shooting gallery, and by gently moving the device around in front of you, you are able to aim your device (the gun) at the different targets that are theoretically moving around in front of yourself.
What is important to note is that developer Hai Contrast is shooting two birds with one stone here; they have not only brought a light gun experience to mobile, but they have done so without the need for extra gear. Imagine how unwieldy shooting a plastic gun at your tiny iPhone screen could be (not to mention the sort of looks you’d get if you ever tried to play a game like that in public).
With that said, you’ll still look a little silly playing Caliber Club. Because you have to hold your device out in front of you, it will always look like you’re trying to take a picture of something. Also, if you’re playing on a larger device, like an iPad, your arms are going to get tired after a few rounds of the game. Luckily the game modes themselves are not very long, so you can take breaks as often as you need to.
As the player completes each level, they are rewarded with cash which is used to customize their gun. The gun customization is purely cosmetic, and the most useful thing to customize is the sight, as it changes the aiming reticule which is displayed when aiming the gun.
Caliber Club delivers just about the most optimal light gun experience possible, for mobile devices. Beyond the discomfort of playing it for too long, and looking silly while playing it, Caliber Club is a great little shooter that has some cool party tricks.