A lot has changed since 1989, but one thing that hasn’t is Nintendo’s obsession with strange controllers.
In recent times we’ve had the Wii remote and nunchuck combo, the Wii U gamepad with it’s random secondary screen slapped in the middle, and the super modular Switch.
These innovations are the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from the venerable gaming pioneers over at Nintendo, but back in 1989, whacky control methods were an exciting new prospect for young gamers. Enter, the Power Glove.
Yes, you ended up looking like a cross between a discount Robocop and a TV remote, but… you could play Punch-Out!! by punching the screen! Sort of…
Power Glove- what’s the story?
The idea of a computer-controlling glove goes back to the late ’70s, long before Apple’s first Mac popularised the mouse. If things had gone differently, perhaps we’d all be wearing some sort of sensory mitt.
But the mouse won out, and digital handwear was relegated to the sidelines for a decade before Nintendo licensed a futuristic-looking cybermitten for its new NES console.
For a while, kids the world over were captivated by the idea of controlling their console by waving their hands in front of the TV, and of really punching Mike Tyson in Punch-Out!! – sadly, they were only captivated for as long as it took them to realise that the Power Glove just plain didn’t work.
Why should I want one? Seriously?
Wearing an unmodified Power Glove is a bold sartorial statement, marking you out as a total idiot.
But wearing one hacked with Arduino to control your TV, replace your mouse or (like the above) control a drone? Now you’re talking.
Okay, so people will refer to you as ‘Power Nerd’, but you won’t be listening because you’ll be busy virtua-punching Danny Dyer with your sweet Power Glove.
What to look for…
Boxed and sealed Power Gloves were listed on eBay at the time of writing, for the princely sum of £95 (just half the price of a pair of Oculus Touch Controller).
So all you need is some technical skill, some Arduino boards and friends who won’t mock you for wearing one. Good luck.
Also in 1989…
Film- Gleaming the Cube
Basically a rubbish film, but full of brilliant footage of old-school skateboarders such as Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen, kickflipping around the empty swimming pools and car parks of southern California.
Music- Fugazi, 13 Songs
The greatest album from the greatest post-hardcore band. Protip: when you’re done with this, download Wugazi – 13 Chambers, the surprisingly excellent Wu Tang/ Fugazi mashup album.
Software- Microsoft Office
Word and Excel had already been available for a little while, but this was the first time Microsoft tried bundling its productivity tools into one release. Interestingly, it was actually first released for Macs.
Book- Roger Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind
Aimed at interested (but brainy) laypeople, Sir Roger’s beautiful explanation of a host of high-level subjects is required reading if you plan to build an AI (or are one).