A toy gun called Zillion that looks just like the Sega Master System Light Phaser, that just doesnít make any sense does it?. Well letís start from the very beginning and try to clear up any confusion.
Back in the early 1980ís Sega created a Laser tag game which they decided to give a space age futuristic name - Zillion. The toy became very popular with kids running around shooting each other all over Japan.
From this success an Anime series and Manga comic books were born, and to make the whole thing more interesting, a whole new fictional world was created around these guns. The plot focuses on a heroic team called the White Knights who use three mysterious alien built Zillion guns to defend themselves against another species of alien invaders. The series even featured Opa-Opa from the Fantasy Zone games as a character.
Then Sega decided to create games based on the characters and story of the anime series for the Mark III/Master System, Zillion in 1987 and Zillion II Tri-formation in 1988. Around the same time of the first game they also released the Light Phaser for the Master System and modeled it on the Zillion gun with the hope that fans of the Zillion toy and anime would be attracted to it. Itís very strange that neither of the two Zillion games actually make any use of the Light Phaser. Infact I am convinced the Light Phaser was even bundled with the first Zillion game in Japan, although I can longer find the photo of this pack so canít guarantee this 100%
At some point the design of the gun changed in the Anime series so it no longer resembled the Master System phaser, and the toy was also changed to this new design. After doing lots of investigating I couldnít find out a definitive reason for this. One explanation I have found is that Sega withdrew support/funding from the TV series, but since Sega owned the Zillion name, this doesnít make any sense. I believe they changed the design to avoid any confusion with the Master System Phaser, especially as the Zillion Anime was to be shown in the US where there actually were Master System light phaser games available. Its also a possibility that the guns shape was changed in the anime as part of a deliberate storyline, but as I haven't been able to find the episodes to watch that is pure conjecture.
The Zillion toy set was also released in several countries around the world including Brazil, it was actually the product that brought Tectoy and Sega together, without the Zillion gun there would be no Street Fighter II!
In the UK it was released in 1987 licensed by Matchbox, and this is the version we will be looking at now
The physical shape of the gun is identical to the phaser, the only differences are the little rectangular badges on either side, and the toy gun is a dark navy blue colour, as are the other two components that make up the set.
When you fire the gun a visible flash of white light appears on whatever object it hits first, which is very cool. The guns beam has a very impressive range, in daylight it can hit the target at 20 meters, and when itís dark it will reach 30 meters, according to the blurb on the box anyway.
The gun doest contain any batteries, instead it is plugged into and powered by the ďEinsteinium High Energy PackĒ a power pack that uses two Size C batteries. When the batteries are new it takes about 1 second to recharge the gun, the less power left in the batteries the longer it takes to charge up the gun. The pack has a spring clip so you can attach it to the top of your trousers, belt, ear, nose or wherever you like.
The target is a triangular shape and on the back also has a spring clip so it can be worn, the clip can act as a little stand so it can be placed somewhere as a non moving target. There is a switch so you can choose between three difficulty settings, letting you test your skills once your accuracy improves. It requires two AAA batteries, which it uses to create beeping sounds and flashing lights whenever a hit is registered.
Not included with the basic set, but as an add-on you could buy separately is a Zillion counter. This counts how many hits are taken by the target for you, for every hit a red light illuminates, after five hits the counters lets off a beeping sound. To reset the score back to zero you have to swipe the special card provided through the slot at the top of the counter. These counters must be particularly rare as I canít imagine many parents being too keen on having to pay for them too.
The most obvious and intended way to play is with a friend and two sets of guns. But since that was no doubt an expensive proposition for kids back then, and getting hold of two sets now would be fairly difficult, it is possible to play with one set if youíre inventive.
As the back of the box depicts you can shoot the laser at a mirror and it will ricochet on to the target, you could try out some cool experiments by placing lots of mirrors around and try to hit the target in another room.
You could also play with one set with a friend, one with the gun chasing the other person wearing the target. The person with the gun could pretend to be the Terminator and put on Arnoldís silly accent, the possibilities for fun are endless!
As most of us visiting this site are adults, we would look a bit silly if we bought a set and played with it outside in public, but if youíre not overly self-conscious try and get a set as its great fun. Plus itís a nice piece of Sega history to own, with a cool looking Tron inspired box.