Although retro gaming is more popular than ever (except for when it was maybe not so retro), there’s some classic hardware worth forgetting. The Power Glove was one of Nintendo’s most disappointing accessories, being one of its earliest forays into motion controls, but that didn’t deter Niles Mitchell from jumping through hoops to resurrect it and make the glove work with the Switch and Mario Kart Live.
As hobbies go, Mitchell’s favorite pastime is an uncommon one, but it often makes for some compelling videos on their YouTube channel, Will It Work?, which attempts to make classic hardware work with modern electronics. In the past, they’ve figured out how to connect an Iomega Zip Drive to the Apple Watch, and even managed to get an original 1977 Atari joystick working with the Nintendo Switch: that’s two consoles with 40 years of gaming innovation between them finally brought together.
Mitchell returns to the Switch again with a neat hack that kids in 1989 probably wish they’d had, as it makes the Nintendo Power Glove actually useable. When first released 33 years ago, the Power Glove looked like a futuristic cyberpunk accessory and promised motion controls on the NES, decades before the Wii would arrive. It worked alongside sonar sensors attached to the player’s TV, which allowed the Power Glove hardware to triangulate its location and movements. But given that electrical signals travel down a wire at 670,616,629 MPH, and sound travels at 767 MPH (at 68 degrees Fahrenheit), the wearable controller exhibited terrible lag. Pair that with only two NES games even being compatible with the Power Glove’s motion controls, and it never stood a chance.
Asking why someone would ever want to make the Power Glove work with a modern console like the Switch is the wrong question. The right question is asking how Mitchell managed to pull this off, and it comes down to two pieces of hardware: the USB NES RetroPort v2 (which gives the Power Glove a USB port), and the ConsoleTuner Titan One dongle (which allows the wearable controller to connect and play nice with the Switch, plus facilitates a custom script that simulates holding down the ‘A’ button for constant acceleration).
Given modern TVs are far too thin to attach the Power Glove’s sensors to, as they were designed for the boxy CRTs of yesteryear, Mitchell had to build a wooden frame to mount them in front of his screen. While the wearable worked fine with games like Pokémon Legends: Arceus, even supporting the varied sensitivity of an analog joystick, watching the glove steer one of the RC racers from Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit with a wave of the arm to the left or right almost makes me wish I’d begged my parents harder for a Power Glove back in the day... almost.