Light Phaser

From Sega Retro

Sega Master System lightphaser.jpg
Light Phaser
Made for: Sega Master System
Manufacturer: Sega
Type: Controller
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Master System
Sega Master System
Sega Master System
Sega Master System
Sega Master System
Sega Master System
Sega Master System
Sega Master System
Sega Master System

The Light Phaser is a light gun controller created by Sega for the Sega Master System. It is the Master System's equivalent to Nintendo's Zapper for the Nintendo Entertainment System or Atari's XG-1 for the Atari 7800 and XEGS. It was released alongside the Master System in the US in 1986, and also saw a release in Europe, Brazil and South Korea. No equivalent peripheral was produced for the Japanese market.


The Light Phaser is a plastic gun consisting of a light sensor (in the tip) which is focused on a small area of the screen; and a trigger (which corresponds to Control Pad button 1). When the trigger is pulled, a compatible game flashes the screen in a way that is detectable by the light sensor, and hardware built in to the console allows the game to determine where the gun is pointing. The phaser is heavier than its Nintendo counterpart, but considered by some to have a more responsive trigger and more accurate targeting.

The standard Light Phaser is entirely black. As with the Nintendo Zapper, the Light Phaser looked realistic enough to warrant parental pressure to alter the device, so that police would not confuse it with a real gun. Altered Light Phasers are distinguished by a hand-painted neon orange tip, and are much harder to find than their solid color counterparts. Tec Toy also released a blue Light Phaser in Brazil. In that same country in 2009, an unaltered Light Phaser was used to hold a woman hostage[4].

Contrary to popular belief the Light Phaser was not modelled on the Sega-backed anime, Red Photon Zillion, in which characters use Light Phaser-shaped guns. It is in fact, the other way around - Zillion debuted in April 1987 several months after the peripheral was released in the United States. It is therefore more likely that the Zillion design was borrowed from Sega, similar to the Opa-Opa cameo who had debuted in Fantasy Zone in 1986. The Zillion Fighter Set, a light-gun tag toy developed by Sega, borrows the shell of the Light Phaser, but this too was released in 1987.

As with all light guns, the Light Phaser was designed solely for CRT television sets, which were the standard for televisions during the 1980s and 1990s. The Light Phaser will struggle with LCD and plasma televisions and monitors, as well as projection screens. The Light Phaser is also incompatible with the Mark III as that system lacks the TH signal needed for the Light Phaser's light sensor. It is however compatible with the Japanese Master System, which has the TH signal present on both controller ports.

In 1989 Virgin Mastertronic released the "Magnum Light Phaser" for the three leading 8-bit home computers in Europe; the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum. Each were bundled with either cassettes or floppy disks containing six games, with the company releasing a handful of other titles to make use of the peripheral in the months that followed. Despite the similar name and aesthetics, and Virgin Mastertronic's role as the UK's official distributor of Sega products, the Magnum Light Phaser is unrelated to Sega's Light Phaser (though could be infringing on Sega's trademark).

In the United States, a federal law came into force in November 1988 forcing toy gun manufacturers to add an orange tip to distinguish them from real guns. This means Light Phasers produced after this date which were intended for the US market have an orange tip.



Pin Signal Dir description cable color[5]
1 Up n/c
2 Down n/c
3 Left n/c
4 Right n/c
5 VCC +5V green
6 TL IN trigger blue
7 TH IN light sensor white
8 Gnd ground black
9 TR n/c


The controller ports are active-low (this is achieved in hardware by leaving lines unconnected when inactive, and connecting them to Gnd when active):

  • 1 in the corresponding port register means "not pressed" or "dark"
  • 0 in the corresponding port register means "pressed" or "light"

Compatible games


In 2009, the accessory was used by a Brazilian criminal while holding a woman hostage for 10 hours[6].

Promotional material

Print advert in Computer & Video Games (UK) #90: "April 1989" (1989-03-16)
also published in:
Enisof a.s offer.png
Print advert in Excalibur (CZ) #12 (1992-09-01)


Magazine articles

Main article: Light Phaser/Magazine articles.

Physical scans

Master System, US
TheSegaLightPhaser SMS US Box Top.jpg
TheSegaLightPhaser SMS US Box Back.jpgTheSegaLightPhaser SMS US Box Spine.jpgTheSegaLightPhaser SMS US Box Front.jpgTheSegaLightPhaser SMS US Box Spine2.jpg
TheSegaLightPhaser SMS US Box Bottom.jpg
Master System, EU
LightPhaser SMS EU Box Back.jpgNospine-small.pngLightPhaser SMS EU Box Front.jpg
Master System, EU (with Marksman Shooting / Trap Shooting / Safari Hunt)
LightPhaser SMS EU Box Back Combo.jpgNospine-small.pngLightPhaser SMS EU Box Front Combo.jpg
Master System, EU (newer)
LightPhaser SMS EU Box Back Alt.jpgNospine-small.pngTheSegaLightPhaser SMS EU Box Front Alt.jpg
Master System, EU (black)
LightPhaser SMS EU Box Front Black.jpg
Master System, DE
LightPhaser SMS DE Box Front.jpg
Master System, BR
LightPhaser SMS BR Box Back.jpgNospine-small.pngLightPhaser SMS BR Box Front.jpg
Master System, BR (Alt)
LightPhaser SMS BR Box Back Alt.jpgNospine-small.pngLightPhaser SMS BR Box Front Alt.jpg
Master System, AR
LightPhaser SMS AR Box Back.jpgNospine-small.pngLightPhaser SMS AR Box Front.jpg


Sega Master System
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