From Sega Retro

Sega Activator.jpg
Made for: Sega Mega Drive
Manufacturer: Interactive Light, Sega
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive

This short article is in need of work. You can help Sega Retro by adding to it.

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.

In the arcades, similar technology was used for the Sega System 32 fighting game Dragon Ball Z V.R.V.S., which used extra sensors for better motion detection.

In Russia, sold since 1995 by Mikrodin-S. It was also announced in South East Asia for late 1993/early 1994[2] but wasn't materialized.


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. 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.[3][4] It was thus the first successful example of full-body motion sensing in a video game.


"Activated" games

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.

Unreleased games Air Drums and Bounty Hunter were designed specifically for the Activator and were meant to ship with the product, but were cancelled. Additionally, the internal Activator Command Demo program is compatible with the hardware, used for testing the various inputs accepted by the peripheral.

Magazine articles

Main article: Activator/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

Print advert in Sega Visions (US) #15: "October/November 1993" (1993-xx-xx)
also published in:
Print advert in Sega Visions (US) #21: "October/November 1994" (1994-xx-xx)
also published in:

Physical scans

Mega Drive, US
Activator MD US Box Back.jpgNospine-small.pngActivator MD US Box Front.jpg
Mega Drive, US (with Eternal Champions)
SegaActivator US Box Front.jpg
Mega Drive, BR
Activator MD BR Box Back.jpgNospine-small.pngActivator MD BR Box Front.jpg

External links


Sega Mega Drive
Topics Technical specifications (Hardware comparison) | History | List of games | Magazine articles | Promotional material | Merchandise | Cartridges | TradeMark Security System
Hardware Japan | North America | Western Europe | Eastern Europe | South America | Asia | South Korea | Australasia | Africa
EZ Games | Genesis 3 | LaserActive | Mega Jet | Mega PC | Mega Play | Mega-Tech System | Nomad | Teradrive | Mega Drive Mini | Mega Drive Mini 2
New Mega Drive | Tianli VCD/DVD Players | "Consoles on a chip" | Licensed clones (Magic 2 | Mega Game II | Power Pegasus | Super Bitman)
Unlicensed clones
Add-ons Game Box | Power Base Converter | Mega-CD | 32X (Mega-CD 32X) | Mega Modem | Demo System DS-16
Cases Sega Genesis Nomad Carrying Case | System Carry Case
Controllers Control Pad | Six Button Control Pad | 6 Button Arcade Pad | Arcade Power Stick 6B | Konami Justifier | MK-1470
Action Chair | Activator | Arcade Power Stick | Keyboard | MegaFire | Mouse | Mega Stick | Menacer | Remote Arcade System | Ten Key Pad | Third Party Controllers
Accessories 4 Way Play | Cleaning System | Control Pad Extension Cord | Genesis Speakers | Headset | HeartBeat Catalyst | Microphone | Region converter cartridges | Mega Terminal | Nomad PowerBack | RF Unit (Mega Drive 2) | SCART Cable (Mega Drive 2) | Stereo Audio Video Cable | Team Player | Video Monitor Cable | Third Party Accessories
Network services Sega Channel | Sega Game Toshokan | Mega Anser | Mega Net | TeleBradesco Residência | XB∀ND
Development tools ERX 308P | ERX 318P | Sprobe | SNASM68K | SNASM2 (Mega Drive) | SNASM2 (32X) | PSY-Q Development System (Mega Drive) | PSY-Q Development System (32X) | 32X CartDev | Sega Mars Development Aid System | Sega 32X Development Target
Unreleased Edge 16 | Floppy Disk Drive | Mega Play 1010 | Sega VR | Teleplay System | Video Jukebox