So most of us are familiar with the Zapper, Super Scope, Phaser, Justifier, Menacer, and many other popular light guns for our retro consoles. However, today I won’t be talking about any of them – I want to introduce you to the Multi-purpose Arcade Combat Simulator (or M.A.C.S.) for the Super Nintendo.
This training set consisted of: an M-16/M-4 replica with a light pen module, the Basic Rifle Markmanship Program, a small 13” Magnavox or (13” equivalent) television, a SNES system with controller, manual, and carrying case. Most sets were all serial numbered and had a set number under that serial (pictured below). The case design for these sets consisted of no more than a plywood box with slots and tray for storage of items during transport. The light rifles would be transported in a gun case.
Developed for the U.S. Army in 1993, this system was designed to train soldiers for proper marksmanship proficiency. The game focused on five main points: steady positioning, aiming, breath control, trigger squeeze, and shot location. It was used at many Army basic training programs and several Army training centers. The simulator would have you zero the weapon on the screen then place you on a simulated target range to allow you to get the chance to score a weapons zero. Following that, you would move forward to the pop-up target range, where you would then qualify for your marksmanship skills.
The light gun works just like the zapper – you see your target, pull the trigger, the screen flashes, and the gun detects whether it’s a hit or not. Now, the trigger is a little different on the version I used due to the fact that the gun chosen was a rubber dummy rifle. There had been some necessary modifications. They had to hollow out and remove the whole right side of the M16 to retrofit the electronic trigger. Then the cord would be run up through the inside of the body to the light pen located on the top of the barrel. From there, a cord would be run to connect it to your SNES console – simple and practical for the time period and technology.
Now for the collecting aspect…
There are two different systems: the one shown, which is the Super Nintendo version, which has three different type of carts and several different M16/M4 gun variants. There was the Jager AP74, both M16A1 and CAR-15 models, an M16A2 dummy rifle converted like the one shown, and the M4A1 dummy rifle conversion. I have personally seen and handled the dummy conversions and I have only seen the Jager AP74 models in photographs.
According to Video Game Price Charts, the average price for one would be a whopping $600-800 price tag. Many were simply destroyed by the Army.
There is a second “rumored” Commodore 64 version. Not much is to be known… besides the rumors. So if you know anyone with one or have any info, please drop us a line.
After long, technology improved and the Army moved on to the Engagement Skills Trainer (EST) Simulator. This system is about as close to video game combat as it gets. Almost all of the U.S. military’s portable or small arms weapons are usable: .50cal Ma Duce, M240B ,M249, AT4, Javelin anti-tank rocket, HMMWVs in a live fire situation – and the list goes on.
I want to close this tale of the Army and video games coming together by focusing on what Independence Day is all about. It is the day we gained our independence from England thanks to some of the greatest men and women in our nation’s storied history.
Today we salute those men and women: those amazing dudes who fought to liberate us, so that we unified and became one of the best countries in the world! Patrick Henry said it best: “Give me liberty or give me death!”
GOD BLESS THESE STATES, GOD BLESS AMERICA! ♦