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.