Gumshoe is a really crazy experiment for the Zapper. Unfortunately, the risk just doesn't really pay off here. At its best the game is a test of lightning reflexes, dexterity, and recognition but that doesn't help when the level you're trying to navigate is filled to capacity with all different types of enemies and obstacles. I can see how a game like Gumshoe seems good on paper, but if you're going to make a zapper game into a platform it needs to be more forgiving than the standard platformer. What I'm looking for is a game that tests your abilities to use the zapper to open paths and control a stage so that it would help the character on screen get from A to B. What I got was a game about shooting a strand of hay through a very packed needle stack.
In the 1985 Retrospective episode, I mentioned Gumshoe as one of the games I was most looking forward to in the next years lineup. Granted, I had only read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, and did not even notice the fact that it was a Zapper game, but it sounded fun. Let it be known that, in addition to Most Anticipated, Gumshoe is also the Most Disappointing game of 1986 for me (so far).
Gumshoe is certainly a unique game. It's the only game I've ever seen use shooting your on screen character as a jumping mechanic. It's also the first game I've ever seen use gross negligence of a child as an in-game justification of looping a sequence of levels. These silly features feel less like an innovation (or even iteration) in light-gun games, but rather scraping the bottom of the barrel. There simply wasn't anything new that could be done with the Zapper, save for throwing everything we've seen in Duck Hunt, Hogan's Alley, and Wild Gunman into a blender and playing with the mangled remains.