Power Glove

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"Powerglove" redirects here. For the American band, see Powerglove (band).
For the Australian electronic music duo, see Power Glove (band).
Power Glove
The American Power Glove, manufactured by Mattel
Manufacturer Mattel (United States)
PAX (Japan)
Type Video game controller
Generation Third generation era
Release date 1989 (1989)
Introductory price $75
Connectivity Serial port

The Power Glove is a controller accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The Power Glove itself was a commercial success for its early virtual reality mechanics and being shown in various forms of media. However, its games did not sell well, as it was not packaged with a game, and it was criticized for its imprecise and difficult-to-use controls.[1]


The Power Glove was originally released in 1989.[2] Though it was an officially licensed product, Nintendo was not involved in the design or release of this accessory. Rather, it was designed by Grant Goddard and Samuel Cooper Davis for Abrams/Gentile Entertainment (AGE), made by Mattel in the United States[2] and PAX in Japan. Additional development was accomplished through the efforts of Thomas G. Zimmerman and Jaron Lanier, a virtual reality pioneer responsible for co-developing and commercializing the DataGlove[3] who had made a failed attempt at a similar design for Nintendo earlier. Mattel brought in Image Design and Marketing's Hal Berger and Gary Yamron to develop the raw technology into a functional product. They designed Power Glove over the course of eight weeks.[4] [5] [6] The Power Glove and DataGlove were based on Zimmerman's instrumented glove.[7] Zimmerman built the first prototype that demonstrated finger flex measurement and hand position tracking using a pair of ultrasonic transmitters. His original prototype used optical flex sensors to measure finger bending which were replaced with less expensive carbon-based flex sensors by the AGE team.

Design and functionality[edit]

The American Power Glove with receivers

The glove has traditional NES controller buttons on the forearm as well as a program button and buttons labeled 0-9. The user presses the program button and a numbered button to input commands, such as changing the firing rate of the A and B buttons. Along with the controller, the player can perform various hand motions to control a character on-screen.

The Power Glove is based on the patented technology of the VPL Dataglove, but with many modifications that allow it to be used with slow hardware and sold at an affordable price. Whereas the Dataglove can detect yaw, pitch and roll, uses fiber optic sensors to detect finger flexure and has a resolution of 256 positions (8 bits) per finger for four fingers (the little finger is not measured to save money, for it usually follows the movement of the ring finger), the Power Glove can only detect roll, and uses sensors coated with conductive ink yielding a resolution of four positions (2 bits) per finger for four fingers.[8] This allows the Power Glove to store all the finger flexure information in a single byte.[9] However, it appears that the fingers actually feed an analog signal to the microprocessor on the Power Glove. The microprocessor converts the analog signal into two bits per finger.

There are two ultrasonic speakers (transmitters) in the glove and three ultrasonic microphones (receivers) around the TV monitor. The ultrasonic speakers take turns transmitting a short burst (a few pulses) of 40 kHz sound and the system measures the time it takes for the sound to reach the microphones. A triangulation calculation is performed to determine the X, Y, Z location of each of the two speakers, which specifies the yaw and roll of the hand. The only dimension it cannot calculate is the pitch of the hand, since the hand can pitch without moving the location of the two ultrasonic speakers.


Two games were released with specific features for use with the Power Glove: Super Glove Ball, a "3D" puzzle maze game, and Bad Street Brawler, a beat 'em up. Both games were playable with the standard NES controller, but included moves that can only be used with the glove. These two games are branded as part of the "Power Glove Gaming Series". However, Super Glove Ball was never released in Japan. Since no Power Glove-specific games ever retailed in Japan, the Power Glove was sold only as an alternative controller. This decision damaged sales and eventually caused PAX to declare bankruptcy.

Two more games, Glove Pilot and Manipulator Glove Adventure, were announced but never released. Another unreleased game, Tech Town or Tektown, was a virtual puzzle solving game in which the player moved a robotic hand around a deserted space station type of setting, using the glove to open doors and to pick up and use tools. It could be seen in a sneak peek in the Official Power Glove Game Players Gametape (Vol. 1 No. 9), as "New Game Available Spring 1991".

Games without specific support could also be played with the glove by inputting codes on the glove's keypad that set a control scheme for the glove.


The Power Glove sold approximately 100,000 units in the U.S.[10] Its gross sales totaled $88 million.[2] The games that were especially made for the Power Glove sold poorly and the Power Glove itself was a critical and commercial failure.

In popular culture[edit]

In The Wizard, Lucas Barton wielded a Power Glove.
  • The Power Glove was prominently shown off in the Nintendo-produced film The Wizard, memorably wielded by antagonist Lucas Barton (Jackey Vinson), whose ironic smug boast, "I love the Power Glove. It's so bad", became an internet meme years later.[11][12] Mutant Reviewers from Hell noted that:
"… the Power Glove was an odd controller for the NES that required you to wear a huge glove that really did very little, but the movie treats it with such awe, such holy reverence that all of the witnesses to its mighty power are left speechless. That is, until Lucas gives us one of the film's most memorable lines: 'I love the Power Glove. It's so bad!'"[13]
  • The Power Glove is featured in the movie Beethoven during the scene where Ryce is playing Super Mario Bros. 3 and her brother Ted is next to her wearing a Power Glove on his right arm, pointing at the screen.
  • The 1995 film "Hackers" briefly shows the Power Glove on Agent Ray's arm while he examines Joey's seized assets.
  • In the sixth A Nightmare on Elm Street film, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, Freddy Krueger tries to kill Spencer using a NES, but when the controller got unplugged, Freddy uses his version of the Power Glove as a replacement, saying "You forgot the Power Glove!" Freddy also shouts "Now I'm playing with power!", a play on Nintendo's tagline "Now you're playing with power!"
  • In the revived series of The Electric Company, Prankster Manny Spamboni is often seen sporting a Power Glove and using it to activate various gadgets of his.
  • Speed metal band Powerglove are named after the Nintendo accessory. Their music consists mainly of old video game songs translated into a fast-paced metal fashion. The band displays an original Power Glove at the conclusion of their set.
  • Australian electronic music duo Power Glove, is named after the accessory. They compose and produce synthesizer-heavy tracks inspired by 1980s culture.
  • James Rolfe, as his trademark character, the Angry Video Game Nerd, is usually associated with the Power Glove. On several episodes, the Power Glove, together with other NES accessories, is used by the Nerd as a weapon against video game monsters. Additionally episode 14 features a full review of the Power Glove and the Nerd uses the famous Wizard line "Now you're playing with power" and then jokes on it.
  • The Regular Show episode "Video Game Wizard" revolved around a parody of the Power Glove, called the "Maximum Glove". Furthering the parody, the product's tagline is "It's so bad." The title and basic plot of the episode are a reference to The Wizard, which prominently featured the Power Glove. Its general unreliability is also parodied.
  • In the Kickin' It episode "Glove Hurts", Miltons prototype of the "strength gloves" are remodifed Power Golves on both of is hands for the science project at school. Then Derek Tanner remodifes the gloves to be stronger and different then Miltons prototype.
  • Australian electronic group Knife Party created a song sharing the same name as the Nintendo accessory. It also uses a vocal sample from one of the original Power Glove commercials. The song was released on its third EP called Haunted House.[14]
  • The electro/hip-hop group Hyper Crush's first EP, The Arcade, makes several references to the Power Glove.
  • The character Hackerman from the Kickstarter funded 30 minute film Kung Fury uses a Power Glove to enter "Hard-Core Hacking Mode" in order to hack time. [15]
  • A documentary about the Power Glove called The Power of Glove is in development.[16] A Kickstarter campaign was launched on August 6, 2014.[17]
  • On the videogame League of Legends, the champion Veigar has a skin named Final Boss Veigar in which his right hand is modelled after the Power Glove.
  • In the indie video game Abobo's Big Adventure, the titular character summons a Power Glove onto his hand at the end of the final boss fight against Little Mac (which also writes "It's so bad!" on the screen), and uses it to punch Little Mac with such force that he decapitates him in dramatic slow motion fashion.
  • One of Smosh characters called Teleporting Fat Guy uses Power Glove for time traveling and teleporting. In the animated series on Shut Up! Cartoons, it can also shoot powerful beams. The villain Bart Reynolds (or Burt Reynolds) and his minions also uses the Power Gloves to fight Teleporting Fat Guy.
  • In a season two episode of The Goldbergs, "A Goldberg Thanksgiving," the character Adam gets a Power Glove from his uncle.
  • Australian rapper Seth Sentry can be seen wearing the Power Glove in the video for his song Hellboy (2015)
  • Player One, a video-game themed villain from the superhero comic book Bedbug, wears a Power Glove. [18]