Gumshoe was created by Nintendo artist and game designer Yoshio Sakamoto and was released outside of Japan. In an interview he did with Wired.com he spoke about how he was asked by Gunpei Yokoi to make a game that would utilize the NES Zapper peripheral as the sole controller for a game. His prototype of the game was a rolling ball that the player would shoot to make it bounce. After realizing the lack of entertainment with such a basic mechanic the idea of obstacles and targets came into play. Sakamoto also admits that the main character, Mr. Stevenson, was drawn to resemble Mr. Yokoi.
A mafia boss named King Dom kidnapped Mr. Stevenson's daughter. Mr. Stevenson must collect five black panther diamonds to save his daughter.
Mr Stevenson is an ex-FBI agent turned detective.
Gumshoe is an auto-scrolling, platformer game that is entirely controlled by the NES Zapper. The player controls Mr. Stevenson by shooting him with the Zapper making him jump to avoid enemies and obstacles such as pits and platforms. The player can also use the Zapper to shoot enemies, though they have limited ammo. There are several red balloons floating around in levels that replenish ammo when shot. No ammo is actually lost when controlling Stevenson.
The game's key jumping mechanic resembles the flapping mechanic later used in the popular 2013 mobile game Flappy Bird.