How the Nintendo Power Glove Worked

Five-Fingered Finale

Unlike the Power Glove, the Wiimote controller for the Wii gaming system was quite successful.
Unlike the Power Glove, the Wiimote controller for the Wii gaming system was quite successful.
© LoooZaaa/iStockphoto

As a game controller for the NES, the Power Glove was a failure. But as a captivating piece of technology and marketing, the Power Glove left an indelible mark on gaming society and our larger culture, too.

As evidence, even though the glove didn't work very well, it spawned products that actually do. The Nintendo Wii controller and the Microsoft Kinect are examples of successful gesture-based gaming, and without the Power Glove as inspiration, who knows if they would've ever come into existence.

Hollywood types have regularly weaved Power Glove references into their films. For example, in "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare," Freddy Krueger swaps out his signature knife-tipped glove for the Power Glove as he torments a potential victim. He twists the Nintendo sales pitch a bit and says, "Now I'm playing with power!"

Power Glove has been used in all sorts of pop-culture-tinged art projects. Electronic musicians don the glove to create funky new tracks (and to make a lasting impression on stage). Geeks hack the glove to serve new purposes.

A speed metal band named Powerglove makes loud, metal versions of video game songs and at the end of their concerts, the band shows off a vintage Power Glove. One professional animator added a custom circuit board and Bluetooth wireless networking to his glove and uses it to capture stop-motion scenes.

Decades after its introduction, the Power Glove is probably more useful as a retro fashion accessory or an art project than it ever was as a video game controller. Yet its cyborg-tinged design and unforgettable commercials were ingrained into the memories of millions of gamers — and in that sense, the Power Glove was more successful than anyone could've dreamed.