From Sega Retro
|Fast facts on the Activator|
|Manufacturer: Interactive Light, Sega|
|Made for: Sega Mega Drive|
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 the Sega Mega Drive console in 1993, intended to act as a more immersive substitute for a standard control pad.
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 , , , , , , and 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. However, many argued the reverse was true, 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.
An improved version of the Activator was used for the Sega System 32 arcade fighting game Dragon Ball Z V.R.V.S. It had a number of extra sensors to pull off better reaction sensing. Dragon Ball Z V.R.V.S. was a popular attraction at the Amusement Machine Show 1993 for its accurate motion detection and fun gameplay. It was thus the first successful example of full-body motion sensing in a video game.
While the Activator will function with any Mega Drive title, a small number of games were partially designed for the Activator and so specifically label themselves as "activated":
In addition, Sega of America promoted support for Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition and Streets of Rage 2. The Mega Drive and Sega 32X versions of Mortal Kombat II also mention the Activator by name, but the control scheme is identical to that of the standard three-button controller.
US Promotional Video
also published in:
- Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) #52: "November 1993" (1993-xx-xx)
- Game Players (US) Vol. 6 No. 12 "December 1993" (1993-xx-xx)
- Sega Visions (US) #16: "December/January 1993/1994" (1993-xx-xx)
- GamePro (US) #54: "January 1994" (199x-xx-xx)
- Mega Play (US) #20: "February 1994" (199x-xx-xx)
- Sega Visions (US) #17: "February/March 1994" (199x-xx-xx)
- Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) #57: "April 1994" (1994-xx-xx)
also published in:
- File:GamePro US 052.pdf, page 204
- File:Edge UK 002.pdf, page 17
- File:EGM US 051.pdf, page 222
- File:EGM US 052.pdf, page 278
- File:GamePlayers US 0612.pdf, page 202
- File:SegaVisions US 16.pdf, page 146
- File:GamePro US 054.pdf, page 42
- File:MegaPlay US 20.pdf, page 8
- File:SegaVisions US 17.pdf, page 10
- File:EGM US 057.pdf, page 78
- File:GamePro US 064.pdf, page 133
- File:SegaVisions US 22.pdf, page 3
- File:SegaVisions US 23.pdf, page 81
- File:SegaVisions US 24.pdf, page 85
- Sega Activator Ring Instructional Video
- Sega Activator Demonstration at 1993 Winter CES
- U.S. Patent 5,045,687