The Power Glove
The Power Glove with Sensor Bar and Super Glove Ball cartridge
The Power Glove was released in the United States in 1989. It sold approximately 100,000 units in the US but the two games made specifically for it, Bad Street Brawler and Super Glove Ball, were commercial failures. The Glove as well was considered a failure because it was difficult to use and did not work properly most of the time.
Power Glove Commercial from the 80's
How it works:
"The glove has traditional NES controller buttons on the forearm as well as a program button and buttons labeled 0-9. A person presses the program button and a numbered button to input commands, such as changing the firing rate of the A and B buttons. Along with the controller, the player can perform various hand motions to control a character on-screen."
-quote from The Power Glove article on Wikipedia.org
There are two ultrasonic speakers built into the glove above where it says "Power Glove". Those emit signals that are picked up by the 3 ultrasonic microphone sensors that sit on the top and side of the TV. The signals change depending on what fingers are bent on the glove, which have flex sensors built into the thumb and 3 following fingers (the pinkie finger was not equipped with sensors to save money, since it usually follows the movement of the ring finger). The flex sensors are carbon-based ink on plastic. Bending the flex sensors causes the carbon to compress, decreasing the resistance, which causes the signal for that sensor to change.
There are 14 different program codes to set up the Glove for different types of games. It changes the way the Glove interacts with the Nintendo and the game you have in it. Here's the Program Code Guide for the Power Glove.
Where it went wrong:
The main problem with the Power Glove, aside from having to learn how to use a completely new controller (with a 35 page manual no less!), was it had numerous problems even if you read the entire manual. First off, the sensors had no way of staying in place on your TV, so unless you taped them to your TV or weighed them down, they would slide off the tv and screw everything up. If you aren't in the "sensing zone" (basically inside the area of the sensors), the Glove wouldn't work at all.
Second off, every time you turned the system on with the Power Glove hooked up, the A and B buttons default to having the Turbo setting on. Let me repeat that, every time you turned it on, the A and B buttons default to having Turbo on. So every time you had to input codes for both buttons to turn Turbo off, or you could barely play any game you tried.
Lastly, you had to put in a specific program code for each type of game you were going to play. So you turn the NES on, punch in the code for whatever game and then play it, right? Well the problem is that there are 14 different codes in the guide, and while it gives suggestions for the type of game each code can be used with, most of the time it gave you problems even if you were using the right code. This was usually because either you weren't close or far away enough from the sensors, or the gestures or finger movements weren't being read correctly, or some other problem
-The Power Glove, while being a failed controller, actually it had quite an impact on popular culture. The first time anyone heard of the Power Glove was in the movie The Wizard, with Fred Savage. It was introduced by Lucas Barton, pictured above, who uses it to show off his gaming prowess to Corey Woods (Savage), Jimmy (his brother), and Haley. The Wizard also was the first time the gaming public got to see Super Mario Bros. 3.
-While not being developed or produced by Nintendo, I believe that the Power Glove was somewhat of a precursor to the Nintendo Wii, which also uses a motion controller and a sensor bar that interprets the IR signals from the Wii-mote and its movements as motions and actions in the game. This is very similar to the original design of the Power Glove.
-The Power Glove also appeared in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. He uses a Power Glove version of his blade glove to kill people. This was during the cheesy version of Freddy, so it's rather goofy:
-There is a power metal band called Power Glove. They play metal covers of classic video game themes, and display a Power Glove at the end of their concerts.
How easy is it to find today?:
The Power Glove unfortunately is not as easy as you would think to find today. Usually the Glove itself is sold without the sensor bar, and finding someone or somewhere that is selling both is tricky. The Glove by itself usually can be sold anywhere from $10 up to $90-$100, but the complete set, even out of the original box can go for $150-$200 or up. Since it seems the Gloves themselves are somewhat common, but the sensors people seemed to lose or misplace, so they are harder to come by. Also a lot of the time even if you can find one with both the Glove and sensors, it doesn't have the Instruction Manual or Program Code Guide. I'll provide the Instruction Manual for download here.
I own two complete Power Gloves. The original one I bought on ebay for $18 (including shipping) so I was rather lucky on that. The second a friend gave me because he was cleaning out his storage unit. The recent ebay auctions for Power Gloves are rather high, so you might want to wait a bit before buying a complete one.
-Power Glove Instruction Manual: Here it is, in all of its cheesy glory. The "Glove Master" and "Lil' Digit" take you step by step in showing you how to use the new controller you bought.
-Power Glove Program Code Guide: Here are all 14 program codes for the Power Glove, and how to use the Glove with said codes.
-eBay search for Power Glove: Pretty self-explanatory.
-Angry Video Game Nerd's review of the Power Glove: The AVGN puts the Power Glove through its paces, with hilarious results.