One would think that Nintendo’s history of motion controls is spotless. The Nintendo Wii is one of the most successful consoles of all time and the even better-selling Switch offers plenty of options for motion detection.
However, the idea of using movements to control games arose much earlier and was even implemented in 1989 by the toy manufacturer Mattel for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
However, the “Power Glove” quickly became one of the biggest flops in video game history because it was extremely heavy and games could only be used stubbornly with it. But as is so often the case with failed hardware experiments, these mature into cult objects over time. For the Youtube channel Will It Work!? the pop culture background was enough to grab the futuristic gauntlet and take it for a few laps in Mario Kart: Live Home Circuit on the Nintendo Switch.
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Not that easy to get up and running on the Switch
According to the Youtuber, not much equipment was required for the Power Glove to work on the switch. A USB adapter for NES controllers worked in conjunction with a controller emulator.
Controller emulators give the console the illusion of a platform-specific gamepad, even if other peripherals, such as a mouse and keyboard combination or a controller from another console, are connected to it.
The hobbyist uses the controller emulator for a well-intentioned purpose, but in online games the devices are notorious for their cheat potential:
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The Nintendo Switch immediately recognized the Power Glove as a stick, and the buttons were also assigned correctly. Unfortunately, the hobbyist encountered a major obstacle in his plan to play Mario Kart with it. Because the glove should actually recognize a curvature of the thumb and index finger. This allows you to press the A and B buttons respectively.
Unfortunately, the Switch cannot handle this special feature of the Power Glove, since from a purely technical point of view it is a kind of lever used in joysticks for flight simulators or pedals in racing simulations.
Alternatively, for the Youtuber to accelerate in Mario Kart: Live Home Circuit, he would have had to continuously press the A button on the glove’s sidebar. That would have made the controls even more sluggish than they already are, and resulted in even more arm fatigue. Instead, Will It Work?! a simple automatic function for the controller emulator that lets Mario drive at maximum speed all the time.
This is what it looks like in motion:
link to YouTube content
Technology destined to fail comes to life again
In the video, the Youtuber lets Mario whiz through the basement apartment quite smoothly. However, that shouldn’t hide how imprecise the technology of the Power Glove is. Depth sensors and gyrometers would have been far too expensive at the time, instead sound waves are emitted at two points on the glove.
Three microphones that are placed around the television recognize this and calculate the position of the glove in three-dimensional space. Since sound travels much more slowly than light or electricity, inputs are implemented with a huge time lag, resulting in an extremely spongy playing feel.
If you’re interested in Mario Kart now, take a look here
The experimental Youtuber seems to have fun with the Power Glove despite the imprecise technology. According to his own statements, he could do a lot more with it on the PC, for example he played games Metroid Prime on an emulator. Along with Pokémon Legends: Arceus and Mario Kart: Live Home Circuit, he would have tried more games than have ever been released for the Power Glove. It only brings it to two pathetic NES titles.
What would you play with the Power Glove?