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Failed Controller-Free Gaming Devices of the Past 135

adeelarshad82 writes "While Microsoft does get points for innovation, Kinect for Xbox 360 isn't the first attempt to make gaming a hands-free affair. Decades before Microsoft would release its depth-sensing camera system, other companies tried to take the gamepad out of the gaming equation. PlayStation, Dreamcast, NES and Sega have all been there. These attempts varied in usefulness, ranging from somewhat functional to laughable and pointless, and from the forgettable to the downright infamous."
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Failed Controller-Free Gaming Devices of the Past

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  • The real question: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Phopojijo ( 1603961 ) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @11:25PM (#34151618)
    I think the bigger story is that after all these iterations... developers still don't know how to properly use the hardware.

    People envision that Kinect will be used for sign language recognition and creating custom animations/taunts (actually waving bye to that Pyro wanker's head).

    Will we ever see a developer use the hardware? Or will they just use it shallowly and default to what they know for anything of substance?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      IIRC, the Kinect's depth camera doesn't have enough resolution to distinguish between fingers. Having a better camera would have made the unit too expensive.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by parlancex ( 1322105 )
        Correct, which is one of the main reasons I can't see it ever catching on. In order to control anything you're going to have to make huge motions with your entire arms like a god damned gorilla, with all the accuracy and subtlety that entails.
    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Sunday November 07, 2010 @12:47AM (#34151984)

      developers still don't know how to properly use the hardware.


      This really is the problem. I think this looks like a very interesting and powerful piece of technology.. but if it only ever gets used to make a bunch of wii style "minigames", what's the point!

      There will probably be a whole collection of Kinect minigames which though fun will not provide any real substance, and a handful of "real" games with Kinect support thrown in (but not required) for a little novelty. I'm not holding my breath for any serious titles appearing which really use Kinect to provide fundamental unique gameplay.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Until recently, I was working at a company that had come up with a demo of something very interesting to do with the Kinect.

        Of course, when I left, the project had been shelved because no one was willing to put up money for anything interesting. The publishers all wanted a normal game with some kind of Kinect minigame glued on as a bonus. No one wanted to stick their head out and make a game which you could only play if you had a Kinect.

        That's what will kill it. There won't be any game out there that you *h

        • I've been envisioning a variation of standard first/third person shooter game that would be played with the standard controller but have Kinect support for altering the player's view based on their movements.

          Can you imagine leaning to one side to look around a wall? Or ducking to get cover? I think something like this is needed to sell this thing to the gamers. Developers need to accentuate the existing controller interface and not try to replace it with flailing.

          I only hope that Microsoft brought Johnny []

          • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

            Can you imagine leaning to one side to look around a wall? Or ducking to get cover? I think something like this is needed to sell this thing to the gamers. Developers need to accentuate the existing controller interface and not try to replace it with flailing.

            I was thinking if Microsoft would figure out how to not just concentrate on games, they could have a heads-up on the simulation industry. Perhaps a more advanced version able to recognize fingers (it'll cost way more money), but you could do a lot of i

        • So why didn't your company develop the concept a little, and then self-publish under Xbox Live Arcade? If it's that good it still would have sold tons, especially at a $4.99 price-point.
        • Dance Central may be that "must have" game.

          Shape may be the "Wii Fit" of Kinect.

          New XBoxes are being sold as either Kinect ready or with Kinect.

          I think it'll do ok.

          • Maybe you can explain this to me- but why is dance central a "must have" game? It looks like it does dance moves and then you have to mimic it, but there isn't any feedback as to what you are really doing other than what you are really doing is wrong. Not going into the music taste department of the game, just looking at it's fundamentals.
          • Yes, since millions of self-proclaimed "hardcore" gamers with an XBox are going to be frothing at the mouth for Dance Central. Give me a fucking break. I bet the thing flops because developers will almost exclusively target the casual audience, which the Wii already has under lock, and the casual audience by definition isn't going to care to replace their casual gaming system with another. Don't get me wrong, I think the technology is interesting (albeit without tactile feedback), but it's clear they are

            • Well, those "millions of self-proclaimed 'hardcore' gamers with an XBox" did seem to spend money on casual games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, so yeah, I'd say Dance Central could wind up being something pretty big for Kinect.

              I have a Wii, a PS3 and an XBox + Kinect - I don't know if I'm "hardcore" but I will say that there's a rather distinct difference between the Wii and the Kinect, for sure. Heck, the first title for Kinect - Kinect Adventures - already does more than the Wii does: whole body immersio

              • Guitar Hero and Rock Band are vastly different from Dance Central. My guess is strumming or drumming along to a track is much more preferable to a likely out-of-shape hardcore gamer than is copying an on-screen avatar's dance moves without any tactile feedback whatsoever. I still seriously doubt you'll see hardcore gamers picking this up. Maybe the casual crowd will take a liking to it, but as I already said before, that crowd has a Wii and I doubt they'll be shelling out $300 or whatever it is for a 360

                • Anything's possible - personally, I don't really care since I'm having fun with it, and it isn't like they won't make more/better games as people figure out the device :) They're selling enough (Kinetic addons and games) that I'm reasonably sure of this. Add in the ability for indie devs to make stuff soon and I think it'll have a solid library.

                  With regard to DC, I didn't find the lack of tactile feedback to be that big a deal - it flashes on the bodypart that is not in the proper spot/beat/synch which has

  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <> on Saturday November 06, 2010 @11:26PM (#34151620) Homepage Journal
    Apparently it is time to rip on the Power Glove yet again. As I, unlike some of the people who write negatively about it, actually owned one, I would like to give my piece on the matter. In particular, I would like to point out that indeed there was one good game that worked with a regular controller but worked exceptionally well with the power glove.

    Unfortunately, that game was not Punch-Out (with or without Mike Tyson). Punch-Out was a massive pile of failure to end all massive piles of failure with regards to the power glove. For some reason some idiot programmer thought that a good way to set up the power glove for punch-out was to move your hand forward for a punch, and then backwards for a power punch. Which of course meant your only power punch was gone pretty well immediately and then you were hosed for the rest of the round.

    No, the game that worked well with the power glove (while not being power glove specific) was Top Gun. That game had very sensible controls; move your hand, move the plane. First two fingers are your weapons. You didn't need anything more than that. Unfortunately few people ever used that great combination.

    I suppose it is probably a good thing that some of the MS engineers who worked on Kinect are actually too young to have ever tried to play punch-out with a power glove. Because if they had, they might have started out with the idea that motion control without a controller could never work properly.
    • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @11:37PM (#34151666) Homepage Journal
      Actually I think you hit on the biggest problem with the power glove, very few games were actually designed for the power glove and the creators of the power glove had to assign control schemes to every game. I wonder how long they actually spent testing out each game.

      I think the control scheme for punch out was designed solely as a way to advertise the power glove(I remember the power glove commercial prominently featured Punch-Out). What looks really cool in a 30 second ad obviously may wear thin really quickly.
    • I didn't own a Power Glove, or any NES stuff at the time, but I have a hard time believing that it was possible for it to live up to the hype that came with The Wizard. That scene with Lucas bringing it out and suiting up pretty much killed any chance of it ever living up to the hype.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I never had a power glove, but the kid across the street did. We tried it when he got it on his birthday. Designing games for the thing would have only solved one problem with the thing. Another major problem with the power glove was the weight. Your right arm got really tired holding the thing all the time in a certain position. It meant you had to limit your gaming sessions to 20 minutes at a time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kenja ( 541830 )
      I've owned several power gloves, which when combined with the old sega stereo shutter glasses made for a poor mans virtual reality rig.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I too owned one. They actually worked pretty good. The problem was I didnt have arms of steel. I could play using one for maybe 20-30 mins tops.

      For those who dont know what I am talking about take your arm hold it out in front of you. Now do that for 20 mins. By the time min 20 rolls around your arm will be in some serious pain.

      Good idea took some tweaking. With the wii they got it right. The control was light and you could hold it anywhere. The glove you had to hold it pretty much 'just right' for

    • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @01:09AM (#34152040)

      I never got to own a Power Glove :(

      When I saw the advertisements for it, I went apeshit because of the hype. The only way to describe myself in front of the TV was Wayne from Wayne's World chanting, "it will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine". Kind of an obsession for awhile...

      Which brings me to my other memory of the damned thing. There was a TV show with Kuppa from Super Mario Bros. Can't remember too much about the show, but I do remember a sweepstakes that allowed you to send a postcard to win a Power Glove.

      I ended up sending several hundred postcards into the show and did not win. Of course, I had to take a box of stamps from my father's office that was apparently valued at "severe ass whooping" to do it.

      Good thing I was never disappointed by it I guess.

    • by gmhowell ( 26755 )

      We used the power glove for Top Gun, but it was still ass as a controller. There was a little bit of gimmick to it, but better results were elsewhere. The better controller for that was the big ass Nintendo joystick.

      • Indeed the NES Advantage was the best controller ever made for the 8-bit Nintendo, bar none. I logged many hours playing River City Ransom, Double Dragon, and other classic beat-em-ups on that. The uber-low-tech "slow motion" feature on it was amusing at times, as well - especially if you accidentally hit it on a game that brought up some sort of menu when pressing start...
  • The first article fails for not mentioning the Atari Mindlink. []

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      um but it does, its 1 of only 2 controller-free controllers on the list (I dont really count the power glove its just, but if you do make that 3)

      TFA is pretty crap, but whoever put up this summary is a tard, TFA has stuff on it not even release yet, so "not from the past" has a jaguar controller so its not "controller-free", and 1 was never released so how could it "fail"


    • Does that make me a fail or a win? []... how about epicly in either direction? []
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The guy behind the Atari Mindlink was a real interesting piece of work. He'd wander the hallways of the building we were in (the consumer folks had been co-located with the Atari Coinop engineering folks) with the band on his forehead, apparently looking for praise and adulation. He was /so/ convinced that royalties on it (even as an individual developer) would make him a millionaire.

      I tried using it once. Could sort of make a paddle go left and right, and I got a headache.

  • Power Glove (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @11:29PM (#34151636)

    I love the Power Glove... 'cuz it's so bad.

  • I actually found the Jaguar controller to be pretty comfortable.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      On thing people don't realize, is that the keypad was supposed to be simple to use because you'd place an overlay with icons over it. You wouldn't press button 1, you'd press an icon of a pistol, etc. Not losing the overlay is a different matter all together.

      I really wish the Jaguar did better...

      • If it didn't cost a million, billion dollars it might have done. If you didn't need to plug a CDROM into the top when everyone else but Nintendo was going optical... Or of course, if it had more than three good games

  • I'm pretty sure one of the kids in that Power Glove commercial is the kid from The Wonder Years.
  • Well that article was short, but riddled with inaccuracies. First of all, none of these devices can be described as "controller-free" - there's no such thing. They are simply alternative controllers to your standard joystick/gamepad/buttons/analog stick/lightgun etc controls. You must have a controller (e.g. a means of interaction with the images on screen) in a video game, otherwise it's not a video game. And the end of the article categorizes the U-Force as "hands-free", when it does require using your ha
    • Police 911: Best arcade game ever. Could play for hours ( or until money ran out ). Damn I miss it.
  • And that if they made Knight Boat.
  • An Impressive Try (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Brianech ( 791070 ) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @12:32AM (#34151902)
    Its well known that MS actually bought the tech from an over seas company. Either way though its an impressive piece of machinery for a company first try. I picked one up after reading mixed reviews, and being a guy that must have the latest gadgets I decided not to fight my inner geek. I actually love this thing. My only complaint is the most common. LAG! But what I found was despite the fact you have to adjust to the lag, you do. 10mins after turning it on, I was use to doing everything 1/3 of a second early. I wonder if its a USB limitation, or the lack of an onboard processor. The voice commands actually work well, as Im a person that cant enunciate my R's very well, this was a bit of a surprise. Some complaints about unresponsiveness have gone unnoticed by me. When I do something, even in fast succesion it happens on screen (nothing like making your avatar jerk off). I think Kinect was a good step to controller-less gaming, and albeit not perfect, is definitely fun. I have a Wii that I have only used a few times, a PS3 I love for offline gaming (but no Move) and a 360 now with Kinect. I'll still have to get the Move before I make a verdict. But i enjoy bowling/boxing more on the 360 than on the Wii. Not to mention ping pong is a blast!

    I went 3 days after launch expecting to find a ton of Kinects in store after the mixed reviews, but when I went to futureshop there was only a single unit left. I was shooting the shit with the guy in the game/movie section, and he said demand was far higher than they predicted. Interesting considering the device is far from perfect. In the end though, I have had a ton of fun so far. I just dont know when the novelty will wear off (like it did with the Wii) but this is just my 2 cents on the Kinect after a few days use. I really like it, but time and games will tell if it can be a Wii killer, just like the PS Move also hopes to be. At least sales wise I dont think initially this can be classified a failure, and use wise I also wouldn't call it a failure, just not a complete success. Solve the lag issues, get some longer lasting games, give a better menu system than holding your hand over a button (have you ever tried pausing with Kinect while playing?!?! you have to stand still for like 2 seconds) and extend the Kinect use to incorperate voice commands at all times, and it could be.
    • They bought the camera from overseas but it's not the really innovative part of kinect. That involved a lot of R&D in house.

    • Re:An Impressive Try (Score:4, Informative)

      by S3D ( 745318 ) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @03:12AM (#34152500)
      PrimeSense system had originally had built in depth processing on the chip, and that was planned to be included the project Natal, but at the end MS decided it would be too expensive and moved processing to CPU. Of cause that caused lag. Though I've read in the latest versions they had reduced lag considerably.
      • PrimeSense system had originally had built in depth processing on the chip

        This _IS_ the original reference design, with processing done in asic

        , and that was planned to be included the project Natal, but at the end MS decided it would be too expensive and moved processing to CPU.

        M$ didnt decide shit, they are using reference design, depth map is streamed to the Xbox.

        Of cause that caused lag. Though I've read in the latest versions they had reduced lag considerably.

        So there is Kinect V2.0 somewhere already?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by iserlohn ( 49556 )

      It's the lag that kills the experience though. Once the novelty wears off, any sort of gaming becomes a drag when there is lag. The used to be a Japanese arcade game like Time Crisis but different in that you had to physically duck to dodge incoming bullets. I played that game once or twice but the lag on it killed the whole experience.

      Think about the Wii. Most of the original Wii sports game made use of the precise timing for controller movements to control the on-screen action. Wii tennis for example is a

      • Exactly why the Wii is perfect for the casual gamer. They can get into the game without having to learn all the controls. They don't expect to dominate the competition, but just have a little fun.

        There are a few games on the Wii that attract a more hardcore gaming crowd. Mario Kart or Monster Hunter Tri, for example offer motion sensor controls but for the players who take the games beyond casual, they always choose to use a Classic Controller or Gamecube. Some Mario Kart tournaments even prevent the pl

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Its well known that MS actually bought the tech from an over seas company.

      Yes... and by 'overseas' we mean 'an Asian company'.

      as Im a person that cant enunciate my R's very well, this was a bit of a surprise.

      Umm, ya. Like I said, it's an Asian company so it shouldn't have been a sulplise in the first place.

    • Hm, maybe I am old and slow, or maybe I'm not having that issue of lag - I haven't really noticed it; it's felt pretty responsive to me. I tried it on both an XBox 360 Elite and on my XBox 360 4GB.

      Dance Central is FUN! I can't dance to save my life, but it's FUN!

  • No Odama or EndWar? Odama was a hilarious exercise in controlling armies composed of tiny men getting crushed by a giant pinball/boulder, and it worked acceptably well.
    • The Odama mic is the GameCube counterpart to the Hey You Pikachu mic, which the article mentioned (if I read the same article you read). But almost everyone in my country forgot about Odama after the 2008 U.S. Presidential election campaign as a side effect of having to keep Obama and Osama straight.
  • old school []

    new school []

  • The internet today is primarily composed of top 10 best or top 10 worst lists. They sure make up a lot of content, and I suppose they get a lot of clicks. Heck, they even slipped that iphone pinball advertisement in there without losing their cool.
    • by socsoc ( 1116769 )
      Your post definitely makes my top 10 worst list. There are plenty of things on the web (that's what you meant, by Internet, right? Cause I don't think port 53 carries many top 10 lists) that are not lists. You're just visiting the places that are crap (and linked to by /.).
  • I was so happy when I got the Sega Activator for my birthday. That lasted for all of 20 min...and that's including setup time.

  • The PowerGlove may have been a failure as a game controller, but it was a boon for those of us trying to create Virtual Reality systems with our home equipment. Rend-386 was the software only rendering engine that let us create a virtual handshake coast to coast with powergloves. 3D Rendering went on a MAJOR growth rate curve in the 90s (doubling every 6-9mo). Unfortunately 3DUI didnt do so well. The professional gloves were better than the P-glove, but still not all that great, even 10yrs later. I've s
  • The U-Force worked (Score:2, Informative)

    by drej ( 1663541 )
    TFA (yeah yeah, I know, I wasn't supposed to actually read it) seems more like an advertisement for Kinect to me. I actually owned a U-Force and it worked without a hitch, even the flight-stick accessory. But oh well, guess they were going for that whole "Thanks for liberating us from the oh so sucky past, Microsoft! Now could you pay us?" thing.
    • I question if you actually did own a U-Force, as I did and while it could sometimes be said that there was a function being preformed there, "working" would hardly be the word that I would have used to describe that function over 90% of the time.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The U-force had a flight YOKE and the stick part of the yoke was inserted into a hole that did not allow for keeping it centered.

      When the U-force did somewhat work it really only worked when it was flat, and then it was only somewhat usable for playing games such as Super Mario Bros. Also consider that even when playing Super Mario Bros. doing the larger gap jumps that required hold right (so hover the left hand over right sensor on left half of the U-force in a flat position) + speed (B Button, so hover th

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Renraku ( 518261 )

      This all seemed like advertising shill to me. It was like.

      "X device sucked, unlike Kinect."
      "Y device sucked, unlike Kinect."
      "Z device sucked, unlike Kinect."

      If they would have put, "unlike Kinect, Wii, or Move." it would have been more neutral.

  • by FromWithin ( 627720 ) <<stuff> <at> <>> on Sunday November 07, 2010 @01:02PM (#34155084) Homepage

    From the article: "Sony dabbled twice with console-based webcams over the last two generations, and it only got any success after it introduced the Move."
    From Wikipedia: "As of November 6, 2008, the EyeToy has sold 10.5 million units worldwide.".

    10.5 million sales is most definitely a success by any definition.

    The whole article strikes me as a Kinect advert: "Despite the occasional misinterpreted gesture, Microsoft's Kinect offers impressively immersive game controls and voice commands, all without needing to lay your finger on a single button."

    • From Wikipedia: "As of November 6, 2008, the EyeToy has sold 10.5 million units worldwide.". 10.5 million sales is most definitely a success by any definition.

      Interesting, though, that 10.6 million [] is a failure by every single measure.

  • I agree that the developers should not let such potentially ground-breaking technology be frittered away with trivial games. Nintendo really broke the mold when they diverted from the typical gamer applications and went after the physical therapy possibilities that presented themselves through the use of the Wii. That choice opened up an entire new world to all of the platforms if they'll simply open their minds to the possibilities. They should put forth the efforts and resources to really perfect what
  • When I first read about "Kinect" I immediately jumped forward several iterations. What I expect from gaming hardware is the eventual ability to play a FPS game standing, holding fake guns, pointing them at the screen. We'll probably still need a joystick on the gun to turn completely around, but imagine how much fun this will be? There will be many other uses for the technology, but considering how well FPS games sell, I consider this the ultimate goal. We may even be able to switch from a rifle to a pi

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