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29 Controls of Christmas
Sega Activator
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 08, 2008   |   Episode 12 (Show Archive)  

   

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at 29 of the best known video game controls of all time, from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the Nintendo Wii remote. We're going to review each and every one of them, and then give you a short haiku. Join us as we celebrate this joyous season with the 29 Controls of Christmas!



Worst Hula Hoop ever!
Brief Synopsis: For the most part the controls we've talked about have been fairly popular. Although the Power Glove was only a minor success and the 16-bit light guns didn't sell as well as either Sega or Nintendo had hoped, the truth is that most people have heard of all of the controls up until now. That may change with today's entry, Sega's infamous Activator. I'm sure there are more than a few people who will remember this questionable control, but I guarantee that none of you actually used this contraption, let alone bought one. The concept was simple; you stood in the middle of an octagonal ring that was supposed to register your body movements. This was advertised to fighting game fans, those who had fallen in love with Street Fighter II and Sega's own Eternal Champions. In theory it was supposed to mimic your moves, at least that's what the advertising wanted you to believe. If you punched high in the air, your character would do exactly the same thing. If you performed a round house kick, your character would also perform a round house kick. The problem was fairly obvious from the get-go; most video game players can't do any of this stuff. We're fat and lazy, so the idea of some video game nerd performing a round house kick was ludicrous at best. The other problem is that the device didn't work, not even a little bit. Even when Sega brought in supposed experts, it was clear that the device just wasn't capable of pulling off the moves. Part of the problem was the software, which wasn't developed for this puzzling device. But I have a hunch that no matter what game they made for the Activator, in the end it would have just been an ambitious accessory that never worked right.

The Style: What style? This is just an eight-sided ring that you stand in the middle of. That's all. It's really thin and is mostly black (except for the sensors, which are nothing more than reflective surfaces). It doesn't glow or hover or anything else that is cool. It just sort of sits there. Heck, you don't even get to hold it. Say what you will about the uselessness of the Power Glove, but at least when you were done trying to get that thing to work you had a futuristic glove to impress your friends with. All you have with the Activator is the world's worst Hula Hoop.



What the 15 Year Old Me Would Say: Holy crap, did you see how that guy kicked? That's totally awesome!! This guy is like Jackie Chan with his moves, he's all over the place. The precision in his punches and kicks are truly impressive, I'm glad you are showing me this. But I'm never going to be able to do that. Why do you think I buy so many controls? If

You can try this at home all you want, but it's not going to give you the desired results!
I could do half the things this guy is doing then I wouldn't need video games, I would be at the mall right now kicking the snot out of Mark Smith! That guy is such a jerk; somebody needs to teach him a lesson. Maybe this guy? Nah, he's too busy getting his ass kicked by the computer. At least it looks cool, right?

What I Would Say Now: I first ran into the Sega Activator when I was a teenager at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. At first I was awe-struck by how ambitious Sega was, it looked like they had mastered the motion control and could really offer a brand new video game experience. Unfortunately upon closer inspection it was obvious that this device was nothing more than a scam. Even the karate expert they brought in was getting his butt handed to him by people using a standard control. And it wasn't just pro gamers, it was the stuffy middle-aged business men that couldn't tell the difference between Street Fighter II and a coconut, these people were kicking his butt. It was clear something was wrong, and the culprit was clearly the Activator pad. When I asked the Sega rep about it they shrugged off the imperfections and said that it was still in development. Maybe that's true, but that doesn't make up for the fact that the finished product had all of the same problems as the prelim version I saw months earlier.

The Sega Activator Haiku:
Useless plastic ring.
Just lays there flat on the floor.
The worst thing ever!
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