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Motion Controls In Games Predate the Wii And Project Natal

by Sean P. Aune | February 2, 2010February 2, 2010 11:16 am PST

Think you’re all cool playing motion controlled games with your Wii?  Think Project Natal will change the face of gaming?  HA!  Copycats!  I suggest you bow before the power of … THE POWER GLOVE!

It was 1989, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was the game system changing the world of home console gaming, and somehow the Mattel toy company got the bright idea that an 8-bit gaming console was in desperate need of a motion controller.  Never mind we were still using squarish controller with just an A and B button with a D-Pad, but somehow we were ready for a controller that necessitated us moving around to control all the aspects of a game.

nes power gloveAs you can see from the commercial above, you were given the distinct impression that you would be jumping around, acting out all the motions of the game, clicking the buttons to do all sorts of cool things.

If ever there was an instance of something not nearly living up to the promises, it was the Power Glove.

I fully admit I bought one, I was either 17 or 18-years-old depending on what part of 1989 it was that it came out, and I think I used this thing for almost a full hour before I was ready to chuck it out the window.  What the commercial failed to convey was that you had to put three sensors around your TV connected by flimsy plastic tubes, and you had to keep your glove within the perimeter of those sensors.  Sure you have to keep Wii controllers within range of the sensor bar, you have no idea just how small of an area the Power Glove range was.  The scene in the commercial where the guy punches the air?  Yeah, that would have never worked.

While it would be easy to say that the Power Glove inspired the Wii, remember there was a seventeen year gap between the two things.  I would say it’s easier to say it shows just how unprepared the world of gaming was for motion controls.  It was a great idea, the technology just wasn’t ready to be used in every day life quite yet.

In the history of gaming peripherals there have been a lot of bad ones, but the Power Glove easily ranks up there in the pantheon of complete wastes of money.  Course, that didn’t stop it playing an important role in a movie called The Wizard which was almost as horrible as the glove itself.

Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...