From Sega Retro

Sega Activator.jpg
Fast facts on the Activator
Manufacturer: Interactive Light
Made for: Sega Mega Drive, Sega System 32
Release Date RRP Code
1993-08 Media:EGM US 051.pdf[1] ¥?  ?
Sega Mega Drive
1993-11 Media:GamePro US 052.pdf[2] $79.95 Media:GamePro US 052.pdf[2]  ?
Sega Mega Drive
199x R$?  ?

The Activator is a full-body motion based video game controller unit released by Sega. It is an octagonal controller unit which sits on the floor and uses infra-red beams to interpret movements. It was revealed for both the Sega Mega Drive console and Sega System 32 arcade system in August 1993. On the Mega Drive, it was intended to act as a more immersive substitute for a standard control pad. In the arcades, it was used for the fighting game Dragon Ball Z V.R.V.S., which used extra sensors for better motion detection.

Mega Drive

The Activator was created at a time where many video game companies were investing in virtual reality, perceived at the time to be the future of gaming. However, for the most part, virtual reality was considered to be too expensive to produce in homes at the time, so products such as the Activator were produced instead. The Activator was developed by Interactive Light for Sega, and was also brought to Brazil by Tec Toy. It was based on a musical instrument called the "Light Harp", conceived by musician and martial artist Asaf Gurner.

The Activator comes in eight segments, which when fitted together creates an octagonal ring which is designed to be placed on a floor. Each section of the Activator fires a beam of light upwards, and the player stands inside the octagon, "punching" and "kicking" to break the light beams and sending signals to the Mega Drive console in the process. The Activator is effectively a glorified control pad, with Left, Up, Right, Down, A, B, C and Start buttons mapped to each of the eight segments.

Sega of America marketed the Activator as a martial arts simulator, claiming that it improved the experience of fighting games such as Eternal Champions (one of the few games designed around the peripheral). Initial reactions were positive, with Electronic Gaming Monthly claiming that it improved the experience for games like Streets of Rage 2, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II': Special Champion Edition.Media:EGM US 051.pdf[3] However, many argued the reverse was true - many games such as Mortal Kombat and Comix Zone are considered to be more difficult to play with an Activator, and many games which rely on fast reactions are not suitable for this style of control scheme at all. Furthermore the light beams are easily distorted by a non-flat ceiling or obstructions such as beams of a ceiling fan or light fixture. As a result, the Activator did not see much commercial success and was retired mere months after launch.

Promotional material

Physical scans

Mega Drive, US
SegaActivator US Box Front.jpg
Mega Drive, BR
Activator MD BR Box Back.jpgNospine-small.pngActivator MD BR Box Front.jpg


  1. File:EGM US 051.pdf, page 222
  2. 2.0 2.1 File:GamePro US 052.pdf, page 204
  3. File:EGM US 051.pdf, page 60

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