Power Glove

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Power Glove
Power Glove, American model
ManufacturerMattel (United States)
PAX (Japan)
TypeVideo game controller
GenerationThird generation era
Release date
  • NA: October 1989
Lifespan1 year
Introductory priceUS$75 (Equivalent to $184 in 2023)
Discontinued1990 (1990)
Controller input1 Crosshead A B Action Buttons Start Select Buttons Turbo Buttons
ConnectivitySerial port
Nintendo Entertainment System

The Power Glove is a controller accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The Power Glove gained public attention due to its early virtual reality mechanics and significant marketing. However, its two 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.[2]


The Power Glove was originally released in 1989.[3] Though it was an officially licensed product, Nintendo was not involved in the design or release of the accessory. Rather, it was designed by Samuel Cooper Davis for Abrams/Gentile Entertainment (AGE), made by Mattel in the United States[3] and PAX in Japan. Additional development was accomplished through the efforts of Thomas G. Zimmerman and Jaron Lanier, a virtual reality pioneer responsible for codeveloping and commercializing the DataGlove,[4] 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.[5][6][7] The Power Glove and DataGlove were based on Zimmerman's instrumented glove.[8] 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.[citation needed]

Design and functionality[edit]

Japanese Power Glove (パワーグローブ Pawā Gurōbu), manufactured by PAX

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.[citation needed]

The Power Glove is based on the patented technology of the VPL Dataglove, but with many modifications that allow it to be used with modestly performing consumer hardware and sold at an affordable price. Whereas the Dataglove can detect yaw, pitch and roll, uses fiberoptic 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, and 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.[9] This allows the Power Glove to store all the finger flexure information in a single byte.[10] The microprocessor converts the analog signal into two bits per finger.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]


A Power Glove displayed at the Video Game Museum in Berlin, Germany

Two games were released with specific features for use with the Power Glove: Super Glove Ball, a faux-3D puzzle maze game; and Bad Street Brawler, a beat 'em up. Both games are playable with the standard NES controller, but include moves that can only be used with the glove. These two games are branded as part of the "Power Glove Gaming Series". Since no Power Glove-specific games ever retailed in Japan, the Power Glove was sold only as an alternative controller.

Two more games, Glove Pilot and Manipulator Glove Adventure, were announced but never released. Another unreleased game, Tech Town or Tektown, is 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 can be seen in a sneak peek in the Official Power Glove Game Players Gametape.[11]

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

The Power Glove was adopted by the emerging virtual reality community in the 1990's to interact with 3D worlds in a cheaper way to the popular high end DataGlove produced by VPL Research. REND386 was the bridging shareware software to support it. [12] [13]


The Power Glove sold nearly one million units.[14] However, it generally received extremely poor reception, because the controls for the glove were incredibly obtuse, making it completely impractical for almost every game on the console.

In popular culture[edit]

The Power Glove is featured in the 1989 film The Wizard, wielded by antagonist Lucas Barton (Jackey Vinson) who utters the infamous line "I love the Power Glove - it's so bad."[15]

In 2013, a documentary titled The Power of Glove, was put into development.[16][17] The film was released in 2019.[18]

The glove has lent its name to multiple bands, including power metal cover band Powerglove and Australian synthwave duo Power Glove.

The Power Glove was featured in the 2021 movie 8-Bit Christmas.


  1. ^ Vizard, Frank (October 1989). "Popular Mechanics". Popular Mechanics Magazine. Vol. 166, no. 10. p. 106. ISSN 0032-4558. Retrieved 15 March 2018. ...Power Glove comes in two sizes, and is targeted at players between the ages of 8 and 14...
  2. ^ "Backwards Compatible - The Power Glove". ABC website - Good Game. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 19 May 2008. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
  3. ^ a b "A.G.E. Tech". Abrams Gentile Entertainment. Archived from the original on 25 May 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  4. ^ "History". Scott Belsley, MD, FACS. Archived from the original on 30 December 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  5. ^ Applegate, Jane (21 June 1991). "Putting a Design on Bigger Market Share". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  6. ^ "Inside story on: The power glove (Cover)" (PDF). Design News. 45 (23): 63. 4 December 1989. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  7. ^ "La Réalité Virtuelle - Chapitre 7". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Patent US4542291 - Optical flex sensor".
  9. ^ Townsend, J. Eric. "PowerGlove FAQ". Mellott's VR. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  10. ^ "1993 VR Conference Proceedings". North Carolina State University. 1993. Archived from the original on 7 July 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  11. ^ New Game Available. Official Power Glove Game Players Gametape (VHS). Vol. 1. Spring 1991. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021.
  12. ^ "Homebrew Virtual Reality".
  13. ^ "What happened to REND386".
  14. ^ Zachary, George (November 1996). "Generator". Next Generation. No. 23. p. 24.
  15. ^ Greene, Andy (28 May 2015). "Flashback: 'The Wizard' Unveils Nintendo's Power Glove". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 August 2023.
  16. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (13 July 2013). "The Power Glove gets its own feature-length documentary". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  17. ^ Watercutter, Angela (11 July 2013). "There's a Nintendo Power Glove Documentary Coming (Yes, It Has a Wizard Reference)". WIRED.
  18. ^ McFerran, Damien (19 September 2019). "Feature: Uncovering The Unlikely Story of the World's Worst Controller in the Power of Glove". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 22 September 2019.