About SEGA Lock-On
The origins of Lock-On are as strange as any mysteries in the universe, perhaps more. The following text is based upon almost no actual evidence and is based almost entirely on theories and possibilities.
It all started some time ago probably around the time when WoW LazerTag was around. I think the company decided to join the club and make their own gear, which never developed outside of Japan. This was based on the Zillion gun which can be seen around the net and even has its own video game.
Then a few years later they decided to get back into the area of lasertag and produced what we know as Lock-On. But this was not its original name. "Virtual Shooter/ing" was once the name and remnants are still left on the sticker sheet which comes with the gear: "VR-UNIT" and "VR-SHOOTER".
As far as copyright information goes the stickers are copyrighted 1992, the Instruction sheet is 1993, the box is 1994 and the actual gear is 1992. One possible explanation is that box and instruction sheet were printed at a later time for the "European" version, which is what most (all) people have.
There were three versions of SEGA Lock-On produced, dubbed by us as Mark I, Mark II and Voice Lock On. Mark I is the most common version, it was the first to be produced and was available in Europe, the UK and Australia. Strangely enough not available in the US, more on that later. It was released around 1995, I think, I can't quite remember. I think I got a set for Christmas that year. Anyhow, it was around for a couple of years for $70 AUD, which was quite reasonable. The Mark II variant was released in 1998, this new version was simply an upgrade to the shape and only had minor modifications to the circuitry. The shape of the pistol was changed dramatically to look more modern and stylish. But it really wasn't for the better. It was difficult to get your hand around the handgrip and the gun was taller and a bit bulky. The only good change to the pistol was the addition of a phillips head screw to hold the battery cover on, this meant no more lost battery covers.
Don't get me started on the Mark II headset. Oh ok, here we go. They decided to change from a single 9V battery to four AAA batteries. This was done to eliminate the need for the 5V regulator which dropped the 9V down to 5V to power the circuit. With four AAA batteries you get 6V which the circuit would be happy with. BUT, four AAAs cost more than one 9V battery and due to their size probably wouldn't last any longer. Now here's the worst part, they decided to change from a almost symmetrical headset to a lop sided, unbalanced, monstrosity! Seriously when you put it on your head it feels really awkward and the weight of the AAAs doesn't help. The Mark II was only around for a short while, again being released in Australia, Europe and the UK. And once again not in the US.
Voice Lock-On was a completely different beast altogether. The gun and sensor were tethered together by a length of cable. The number of lives and the amount of points deducted per shot all changed. Of course the main feature is the voice command function. This allows you to issue commands and even set a password to turn on the unit itself. This gear was not released in Australia, the UK or Europe and was only released in the US and Japan. The Japan version is black and of course very cool. The US version is the standard blue. Form a few reports I've heard the voice recognition is pretty bad and not really a useful feature. I think as far as looks go the VLO is the best of the series.
Here are some scans of the Lock-On instructions.
(The first four are from the original sets and the later two were added at a later date)
Lock On explained:
On the front of the headset is a 'visor' this lets you see your remaining hit-points (HP). Your HP is reflected from a 7 segment LED display (on the front of the headset) onto the visor. The LED display is reversed on the headset and is reflected around the right way on the visor. The visor clips on under the headset and is capable of swinging outwards so that you are not looking through it. This sounds like a good feature but we found that it was disorientating running around with half your vision darkened and a big red number in front of you. Also with the eyepiece swung out it gets knocked around very easily and would not take much for it to get broken. So without it, its simply a matter remembering how many hits you've taken, or using a mirror or the face of a watch to check your score. If you know you're only on a couple of points you'll try and be a bit more careful!
The hand-unit shoots the infra-red beam, which is then detected by the headset. The hand-unit has two triggers. The main trigger, located in the normal place, fires the beam. It can be held for continuous 'rapid' fire (five shots/second), the amount of shots is unlimited. The second trigger, called the 'High Power Button', increases the amount of damage the shot does. A normal shot causes 1 point of damage and the high power button (also called the '3-shot' button by us) causes 3 points of damage. To use the high power shot you have to press the '3-shot' button and then press the normal trigger to fire it. When the '3-shot' button is pressed a quick pulsing tone will be heard from the hand-unit, you then have 6 seconds to press the main trigger to fire the shot, otherwise it will be lost. And you only get 10 high powered shots. Considering you only have 9 hit-points, they come in very handy (you can get killed in 3 shots!).
The headset and the hand-unit both have on/off switches. Each switch has three positions, A, OFF, B. Before turning on the gear decide the teams, and pick weather to be team A or Team B. Once this is decided Team A turns all their gear to the A position and Team B switches all their equipment to the B position. Now your ready to play! If you want to play with more than two teams or to play everyone on everyone, then you just need to set all of the guns to team A and then the headset to team B. On these settings you will be able to hit yourself, so be careful of reflected shots.
When the hand-unit is turned on it will make a continuous beep (every second or so...), and when it is pointed at a headset (on a different setting) a rapid beeping sound will be heard from the headset along with the flashing of a H on the 7 segment LED display. This means that if you shoot now your guaranteed to hit. But having a continuous beep from the hand-unit makes it very hard to hide, also when you hear your headset beep you duck instantly so the shooter usually misses, bad for the shooter. But it is possible to turn the Lock-On function off, all you have to do is hold down the '3-shot' button and turn the gun on. The gun will make two quick beeps then the firing sound and after that it will be silent.. Now the Lock-On function is off, so you can point the hand-unit at someone's headset and it won't make a sound! Great for ambushes etc.
Following is a list of power up commands:
When you get hit your headset will make a loud beeping sound for a second or so, also the LED display and the hit LED will flash quickly. When you are hit with the high power shot the beeping and flashing last a bit longer (and you sigh....).
Here are some sounds: