Hello TAY. This is my first article for the blog and I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as i did writing it,
I was thinking about what I wanted to write about and I thought, what hasn’t been talked about in a while? Then I said, non-standard controllers. I have yet to see a post about that and I figured it would be a fun topic to discuss.
Of course when we think of controllers that differ from the standard thump driver crosspad/analog stick and buttons game pads we’ve been using since the NES days, we think of things like the WiiMote and the Guitar Hero/Rock Band guitars. But we’ve seen examples of innovate input devices for years, going back to the NES days. Here are a couple that I remember and I encourage you to share yours in the comments
The Power Pad
Released in 1988 in the United States, the Power Pad was a perephiral that used the players feet to control the game. It was in many respects the precursor to games like Dance Dance Revolution. Andrew Webster did an article in 2009 for Art Techina on the history of music games. He states that the first music game played on a console used the Power Pad.
The first music game to be released on a home console dates back to 1987. The precursor to Dance Dance Revolution, Dance Aerobics (or Dance Studio as it was known in Japan) had players use the NES Power Pad to mimic an on-screen instructor who moved to the music. Players would have to follow the on-screen characters’ moves by stepping on the correct parts of the mat. The game even featured a free form mode, in which players created their own tunes by tapping out notes on the mat.Dance Aerobics was so far ahead of its time, however, that no similar games were released for nearly a decade besides a few arcade titles that never saw the light of day outside of Japan.
While Wikipedia states there were 11 games made for the Pad, according to a story on a website called The Surfing Pizza, only 6 of them were released in the USA.
Those six were Athletic World, World Class Track Meet, Dance Aerobics, Street Cop, and Super Team Games which had two games on one cartridge. I recomment reading the full article, it’s well written and the writer seems to be knowledable about the Pad. My own memories of the Power Pad were that it caused the the entertainment unit to move when I used it and caused the things on top of rattle around. For that reason my parents didn’t let me use it that much. But unlike the Power Glove, it actually worked.
The Super Scope
Also known as the Nintendo Scope, it was designed to replace the Light Gun on the Super Nintendo. Sega had something similar for the Genesis called the Menacer.
The gun body is a bazooka-shaped device, just under 2 feet long. Located about midway on top of the barrel are two buttons, the orange “Fire” button and the grey “Pause” button, and a switch used to turn the Super Scope off or select regular or turbo mode. In the middle on either side are two clips for attaching the sight. On the far end of the gun, on the bottom, is a six inch grip with another button labeled “Cursor”.This is what the Wikipedia article on the device says about it’s design.
On the end is the infrared transmitter the lens, approximately 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter, which picks up the light from a TV. The sight mount is shaped like a wide, very shallow “U”, about five inches long. The end that faces toward the shoulder mount end of the Super Scope has a round open cylinder holder, where the eyepiece goes. The other end has a short, narrow tube, which forms the sight when one looks through the eyepiece that is in-line across from it. The end of the eyepiece is very simple: it is a cylinder with the diameter of a quarter, with a removable rubber piece through which the shooter looks. The sight is designed so that the aim will be correct at a distance of 3 metres (10 ft). The sensor is a small box, 2½” by 2½” by 1”, with a standard SNES controller cord attached. On the front is an oval-shaped black area, receding back from the two sides to a red sensor about the size of a dime.
Since the Super Scope works similar to the NES Light Gun, it also will not function on anything other than a CRT monitor.
The Super Scope makes use of the scanning process used in cathode ray tube monitors, as CRTs were the only affordable TV monitors until the late 1990s. In short, the screen is drawn by a scanning electron beam that travels horizontally across each line of the screen from top to bottom. A fast photodiode will see any particular area of the screen illuminated only briefly as that point is scanned, while the human eye will see a consistent image due to persistence of vision.
The Super Scope takes advantage of this in a fairly simple manner: it simply outputs a ‘0’ signal when it sees the television raster scan and a ‘1’ signal when it does not. Inside the console this signal is delivered to the PPU, which notes which screen pixel it is outputting at the moment the signal transitions from 1 to 0. At the end of the frame, the game software can retrieve this stored position to determine where on the screen the gun was aimed. Most licensed Super Scope games include a calibration mode to account for both electrical delays and maladjustment of the gunsight.
The Super Scope ignores red light, as do many guns of this type, because red phosphors have a much slower rate of decay than green or blue phosphors. Since the Super Scope depends on the short persistence and scan pattern of CRT pixels, it will not function with modern displays (such as plasma screens or LCDs) that continuously light each pixel.
There were 12 compatible games released. This includes Super Scope 6, a cartridge with 6 mini games and a method of calibvration. It came with the hardware. There was also a port of the T2 Arcade Game and a game called Yoshi’s Safari.
It was a rail shooter where the player rode on Yoshi’s back. It’s notable for a few things. First it’s the last game to feature the Kooplings until Mario And Luigi:Superstar Saga. It is also the first game to refer to Princess Toadstool as Princess Peach.
Of course this being the mid-90s, we needed to have government officials being idiots about video games, because apparently God hates us.
In 1993 (5:34), Joe Lieberman and the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs took on the scourge of ultra-realistic 16-bit video games and plastic toys. Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and a Nintendo “Super Scope” were exhibited as evidence. A visibly distressed Lieberman said that the Nintendo game accessory “looks like an assault weapon.”
The SS hasn’t been completely forgotten as it’s an item you can use in Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube, Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.
I never owned a SNES so I don’t have a lot of experience with the scope. I did get a chance to try it at a friend’s house one time and enjoyed with little I got to use of it. I was going to do a wriote up on the Power Glove but since I never used it, I figured I would leave it at two examples. I’m sure someone will post in the comments their experience with the most well known NES perephiral. But i’ll leave you with the AVGN’s take on the Power Glove. I hope you enjoyed my column and if you want leave your stories and experiences in the comments. Thanks, and have a great day.