Sore fingers and high scores: Hudson’s Super Shooting Watch

Gaming is often considered a sedentary hobby, something unfit people do on well-worn sofas because they’re too delicate to endure real physical activity. We of course all know better, and I’m sure most of us have a long list of game-related injuries to prove it. From Samba de Amigo arm aches to thumbs blistered from extended sessions on Street Fighter Alpha 2 everyone’s got a war wound story to share, with my own latest addition being ‘Shooting Watch finger’ after spending the past few days obsessed with researching Hudson’s adorably hardcore little LCD device.

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First off, a quick history lesson. The Super Shooting Watch shown here is just one in a series of similar handhelds going all the way back to 1987’s original (and most familiar) yellow-and-white LCD game. That particular model was re-released in 2008 to celebrate roughly twenty years of finger-killing action, with the PC Engine-styled Shooting Watch Pro (release date currently unknown) and this Super Shooting Watch (1992) stuck in between the two.

You might be wondering how Hudson were able to sneak out something so clearly SNES ‘inspired’ under Nintendo’s nose without getting into a lawyer-fuelled fist-fight and the answer is thankfully a simple one – it’s an officially licensed Nintendo product. All six face buttons look and feel exactly like the real thing, and while it’s a touch smaller than a real SNES pad it’s a nice size and feels good to hold. The mysterious hole through the top’s there so you can poke a ballpoint pen through it and turn your Shooting Watch into a makeshift desk clock – it took me a few Googles to find that out, but it seems to be what it’s for.

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As you might hope for all it’s fancy SNES looks this little handheld does still work as a regular clock, with bonus countdown timer and stopwatch functions too. These features all work as you’d expect them to, although it’s unlikely anyone reading this will be relieved to hear that the stopwatch also features a lap timer, and that the watch function displays the seconds as well as hours and minutes.

The main event here is of course the ‘Shoot’ mode, which counts how many buttons presses you can perform in ten seconds. That’s all it does. What makes it special is that beating high scores is apparently hardwired into the sort of people who name their blogs after locations in Cave shmups, and Track ‘n’ Field-ing like your life depended on it at any time of the day or night is a strangely compelling way to pass a little bit of free time. While playing in this mode all four main face buttons count as valid presses but pressing in all of them in at the same time only counts as one press, so rubbing this pad-like against a wall isn’t going to do you (or your home) any score-based favours. The general size difference and the SNES’s comfortable concave buttons mean scores reached on this aren’t perfectly comparable with the smaller classic Shooting Watch, but on the other hand this Super version does have the benefit of preparing you more directly for an afternoon on Axelay or Super Aleste.

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Wait, there’s more! This version of the Shooting Watch has a special ‘UFO’ mode offering sore gamers an alternative to straight button mashing, and is based on (and again, officially licensed from) Casio’s 1980 Digital Invader game that first surfaced on their 1980 MG-880 calculator. The goal is to change the number shown on the left to match the first single digit approaching from the right, then ‘fire’ to get rid of it. The numbers appear more rapidly the longer you survive, and it does end up getting quite hectic once you’ve got the hang of it. If you’d like to try this popular classroom pastime out for yourself you can play a version of it in your browser here. Use ‘F’ or the left mouse button to alter your number on the left side of the screen and hit ‘J’ or the right mouse button to fire.

Hudson’s Super Shooting Watch may look like an old LCD clock with ideas above its station but it’s pleasant to look at, really does improve your shot rate, and as it’s so simple the single LR44 used to power it will last a long time – what’s not to like?