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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Playing Nintendo Laser Clay (レーザークレー) in the early 1970s

The Laser Clay Shooting System (レーザークレー射撃システム) was an innovative arcade game, developed by the Nintendo R&D team in the early 1970s and released by Nintendo's subsidiary Leisure Systems (任天堂レジャーシステム) in 1973.

Light gun games had been around already for long, including Nintendo's own Kôsenjû SP and Kôsenjû Custom series for home use.

Nintendo Kôsenjû SP series (1970)

The new element introduced with Laser Clay was the projection of flying objects (clay birds) on a large screen, combined with a clever mechanism that detected if these objects were 'hit' by the player from a rifle that could be held freely in hand. In previous shooting games, the target had to be in a fixed spot for the detection to work, with limited options to move. Laser Clay allowed for an experience that was much closer to real shooting sports, with challenging game play, because the location and trajectory of the targets were more unpredictable.  

The instruction leaflet shown below explains how Laser Clay was played.

Nintendo Laser Clay leaflet (front)

Nintendo sold Laser Clay systems to operators, who installed these at former bowling alleys, that became vacant when bowling took a dive in popularity, and other leisure locations.