This is the Sinden lightgun, probably the most well known lightgun controller which works with modern displays!
Originally crowdfunded through a Kickstarter campaign back in 2019, it’s now commercially available to buy directly through the Sinden website.
Plus, it has proven so popular that Sinden technology is even used in collaboration with companies such as Arcade1Up in their lightgun cabinets.
Things have clearly come a long way in these past few years for Andrew Sinden, the creator of the Sinden Lightgun. But as someone who loves lightgun games and even has a CRT set up specifically to play them, how does this compare to the real deal and is it worth the fairly hefty price?
Table of Contents
Unboxing & Build Quality Of The Sinden Lightgun
The unboxing experience is actually really straightforward. Inside the packaging, all you have is a couple of sections of soft padding to protect the gun during transit and of course, the gun itself.
There’s no physical instructions, but instead the box tells you to head over to the official website for setup information and to download the software and drivers needed.
Before we tackle that though, let’s take a look at the build quality of the gun.
It’s a heck of a lot more weighty than I thought it would be, potentially because of the recoil function but it feels extremely premium because of this.
It has four side buttons which is very useful for navigating menus and performing specific actions in game. It even has this pump action effect which I absolutely love.
Having a moving part like this really gives the gun that extra bit of pizzaz!
And something else worth praising is the fact that the USB cable which powers the gun is really long, meaning it’s absolutely suited to playing in a large room with a big TV. This is probably the single longest controller wire I’ve ever seen!
But, it’s at this stage that I was a little bit worried.
I’ve heard that the Sinden lightguns are incredible but that they require a lot of tinkering with settings to get them to function properly.
I’m not a big fan of tinkering because more often than not, I end up not able to get anything to work as intended or I get so stressed out that I’m not enjoying myself anymore.
But to be honest, despite Sinden’s reputation, it really isn’t all that tough to get up and running.
The Sinden software has a very minimal design and as a result could potentially look a bit overwhelming at first, but once you start delving into the settings, you’ll quickly realise it’s not that bad.
How Does The Sinden Lightgun Work?
The Sinden lightgun works by using a camera pointing out of the barrel which is programmed to detect a white border which the software will create around your display.
By moving the gun around it will emulate a mouse which is how the Sinden is made compatible with every single game and emulator.
It’s basically replicating what it would be like to play a lightgun game by just moving the mouse cursor and clicking on things, but because it’s a physical gun which you’re aiming at the screen, it feels much more authentic than that.
The Advantages Of Using A Sinden
One of the big advantages over using a Sinden compared to other alternatives is the fact that you have complete control over almost every single element of the gun’s functionality. You can rebind any of the Sinden’s four side buttons, the pump action fore-end and the trigger.
It goes way beyond simply rebinding controls though because you can also completely manually control the camera settings to ensure it’s compensating for a particularly bright room or a dark display, however.
You can even customise the look of the border around the screen, calibrate your aim if something doesn’t feel quite right, and customise the strength of the recoil effect of the gun, providing you have the version with recoil.
What’s great too is that most of these settings can actually be saved not only to the software but to the gun’s internal memory too. So if you were to use the gun across multiple devices, it should remember your setup options across everything to keep it consistant.
Now that is attention to detail!
Problems With The Sinden Lightgun
So you’ve got everything up and running and you’re ready to fire up a game and get started. Unfortunately this is where you’ll probably encounter some issues.
The problem isn’t with the Sinden lightgun or even the software itself but it’s simply that many games and emulators simply aren’t designed with Sinden compatibility in mind.
Even brand new lightgun games such as The House of the Dead: Remake doesn’t feature native Sinden support, and I find this completely baffling considering that it’s literally a game made entirely around a lightgun.
Now you can get it working by rebinding the controls to the gun, but even then things don’t feel quite right.
When I was aiming to the side the accuracy was way off, but again this isn’t an issue with the gun, but rather the game.
People have made patches to get the game fully working with the Sinden which is great, but this function should be baked into the game as standard.
However I suspect that if you’re anything like me, you’re not interested in the Sinden for new lightgun games, you’re here to play those retro classics!
Playing Retro Games With The Sinden Lightgun
Once again things are a little bit complicated here too. Setting up the Sinden using the offical software is easy, but setting it up inside an emulator or front end can be a bit more daunting.
I ended up following a guide on the very helpful Sinden Wiki to get the gun working through Retro Arch and it turns out that there’s actually quite a lot of settings you need to fiddle with here.
This was by far the most difficult part of the setting up process and I found I had to deviate from the guide at times to get things working perfectly for my particular setup.
But it is worth it in the end because now you’ll have access to NES, PS1 and Dreamcast lightgun games.
I’ve played a lot of Point Blank, Time Crisis and The House of the Dead 2 with the Sinden and it works almost perfectly.
If I was being very nitpicky, I would say that sometimes when you’re aiming right towards the edge of the screen, it doesn’t quite register the exact point that you’re trying to shoot. This is pretty infrequent, however, and is by no means a dealbreaker at all.
Something you might not like about using the Sinden guns though is the fact that as I mentioned before there does have to be a big white border around everything while you’re using the Sinden. For me, I don’t mind this at all and I kinda just ignore it and focus on the gameplay, but for some people I can imagine this would be slightly distracting.
How Accurate Is The Sinden Lightgun?
In terms of accuracy, I have to say that this thing is really, really good.
Minigames which involve shooting specific points on a target or shooting something without missing in Point Blank which normally cause me problems playing on actual hardware are actually easier with the Sinden due to it’s syncronisation being perfect.
The recoil effect is a really nice addition which replicates how certain arcade lightguns would kick back when you shoot, although I do have to admit, personally I prefer playing with this turned off because it’s a little bit distracting.
But the fact it’s there at all is awesome.
The pump action is smooth and I use it to reload in games like The House of the Dead 2, but if you don’t like this you can opt to shoot off screen to reload instead, with the off screen inputs being totally customisable to suit your needs.
So would I recommend the Sinden Lightgun?
Damn, this thing is good. Like, really good. The only tiny negatives I have for it is that it can be tricky to setup initially and that there’s the rare occasion where the aiming goes a little bit wonky, especially when you’re aiming towards the edge of the screen, however I really wouldn’t be surprised if there was some settings to play around with that could fix this.
There’s a reason this is the most well known modern lightgun, and while it’s not quite a plug and play situation, that almost works to it’s benefit in a way because it gives you far more customisation options by having access to a ton of settings.
Really the biggest problem currently facing the Sinden Lightguns isn’t even Sinden’s fault. What we need is for the creators of all these emulators, front ends and arcade machines to make pre-set configurations for the Sinden gun.
If that element of the setting up process was eliminated, it would make things so much easier. As far as I’m, aware the Arcade Legends Ultimate is completely incompatible with the Sinden Lightguns which is a massive shame because having that proper lightgun arcade setup would be amazing.
The Sinden lightguns do actually work on original PlayStation hardware, however to get this working requires additional accessories and seems a little bit too complex for me to want to try right now.
And considering that I already have access to the original guns and a CRT, there’s not too much reason for me to go down that route. For emulated and modern lightgun games, however, this is nowmy go-to way of experiencing those.
How Much Does The Sinden Lightgun Cost?
The basic Sinden Lightgun model will set you back £89.99, and the only difference here is that the basic version doesn’t feature the recoil effect. The recoil effect version costs £139.99.
You can get discounted double packs for some multiplayer action which cost £169.99 for two of the basic models and £269.99 for two of the recoil ones.
There are also optional extras like a holster to attach to an arcade machine or a pedal for use with games like Time Crisis.
Oh and the guns come in four colours too!
I went for a grey one so it matches the Gun Con for the PS1. Yes, the guns are quite expensive, but they are premium products and clearly have a lot of technology crammed into them.
And to be honest, you can tell that a ton of passion was put into them too, so even though it is slightly pricey, I actually think it’s worth it if you’re a lightgun fanatic like me.
So that’s my thoughts on the fantastic Sinden Lightguns! A massive thank you goes out to Sinden for supplying us with this unit for review, but let me know what you think!
Are you tempted to pick up a Sinden for yourself? Or do you already have one and if so what’s your experience with it been like?
Also let me know if there’s any other modern lightguns you want us to take a look at?
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Rob has a particular fondness for the strange, obscure and quirky side of gaming and loves sharing his knowledge with others. He has been creating content on his own YouTube channel for several years and aims to take his passion to the next level with Retro Dodo.