Ac­ti­va­tor

Hyper - - TECH -

An­other wildly am­bi­tious project, the Ac­ti­va­tor was built with the same tech­nol­ogy as the light harp, an es­o­teric high-tech syn­the­siser pop­u­larised by Jean Michel Jarre. The Ac­ti­va­tor sub­sti­tutes con­troller but­tons for in­frared beams of light, which it projects in an oc­tag­o­nal ring around the player. To press a but­ton, you’d break the cor­re­spond­ing beams with some­thing – usu­ally a hand or foot.

It was ad­ver­tised by Sega as a full-body mo­tion con­troller, with com­mer­cials de­pict­ing Mor­tal Kom­bat­style kung-fu du­els where ev­ery punch and kick was mim­icked by your steroidal avatars. Bull­shit, of course. It be­came clear within min­utes of us­ing an Ac­ti­va­tor that it was a glo­ri­fied and cum­ber­some con­trol-pad.

As­sum­ing the thing worked at all. Light harps are no­to­ri­ously sen­si­tive in­stru­ments at the best of times, and the Ac­ti­va­tor was a cheap knock-off, made with in­fe­rior parts that would stop func­tion­ing with only the slight­est provo­ca­tion.

Un­less it was set up in a pris­tine cube purged of fur­ni­ture and other ob­struc­tions, one or more of the Ac­ti­va­tor's “but­tons” would pe­ri­od­i­cally stop work­ing. This made ac­com­plish­ing even very sim­ple tasks – like nav­i­gat­ing an op­tions menu -- ex­huast­ing or­deals as play­ers were forced to re­peat­edly punch and kick the air in the vain hope of get­ting some­thing to reg­is­ter. For­get Mor­tal Kom­bat fights: just se­lect­ing a char­ac­ter was hard enough.

The Ac­ti­va­tor wasn't just a bad con­troller, it was a bro­ken con­troller most of the time as well. Small won­der it was dis­con­tin­ued not long after re­lease.

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