Power Glove

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Based on the much more so­phis­ti­cated (and ex­pen­sive) VPL Data Glove, the Power Glove is a com­bi­na­tion mo­tion­con­troller and NES con­trol-pad. Two ul­tra­sonic speak­ers em­bed­ded in the glove take turns trans­mit­ting in­audi­ble bursts of sound to three re­ceivers placed around the tele­vi­sion. By mea­sur­ing the amount of time be­tween trans­mis­sion and re­cep­tion, the sys­tem can de­tect (us­ing com­pli­cated maths) the po­si­tion of the Power Glove in space, specif­i­cally its yaw and roll.

So you’d put it on and move your hand around and it would trans­late to on-screen ac­tion. Nin­tendo’s mar­keters con­jured imagery of re­al­time fist­fights with vir­tual mar­tial arts masters and 1:1 recre­ations of sports like fenc­ing and golf. The re­al­ity was quite dif­fer­ent.

Made with cheap com­po­nents, the Power Glove sel­dom func­tioned as in­tended. In­put lag was a con­stant, frus­trat­ing com­pan­ion, while the sys­tem’s sound-based po­si­tion­ing sys­tem proved un­re­li­able at best, ren­der­ing mo­tion con­trols all but use­less.

As is typ­i­cal of failed pe­riph­er­als, Power Glove suf­fered for lack of sup­port­ing soft­ware. Although all NES ti­tles were tech­ni­cally com­pat­i­ble with it, only two games made to take ad­van­tage of it's unique fea­tures: Su­per Glove Ball, a clunky puz­zler de­vel­oped by Rare that played a bit like a 3D Arkanoid, and Bad Street Brawler, an ex­cru­ci­at­ing beat-emup made by Aus­tralia’s own Beam Soft­ware. That was it. Two other games – Glove Pi­lot and Ma­nip­u­la­tor Glove Ad­ven­ture – were an­nounced, but qui­etly can­celled when it be­came clear the Power Glove had bombed.

And bomb it did. Orig­i­nally re­leased with an RRP of $75.00 USD, the Power Glove was sav­aged by the media and re­ceived with to­tal in­dif­fer­ence by the pub­lic. Within weeks of go­ing on-sale, re­tail­ers across Amer­ica and Ja­pan were heav­ily dis­count­ing it. Within a few months you could get one for 20 bucks, brand new. When pro­duc­tion was dis­con­tin­ued in 1990, to­tal global sales were just shy of 100,000.

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