April 26, 2007

Love the smell of feet?

Every hardcore gamer needs three things: 1) a steely resolve, 2) an ability to completely immerse oneself in their virtual environment, and 3) a clunky, vinyl mat, that may or may not play 5 games.

If only had the latter, that is good enough for me.

The NES PowerPad was a brilliant piece of ingenuity that the good folks at Nintendo thought would look good atop your pile of worthless Nintendo accessories. The PowerPad's intentions were pure, no doubt, as Nintendo surely believed that they had finally solved the problem of how to make games more tedious and unresponsive while still making it possible for fat kids to keel over while playing them. The Powerpad, upon its release in 1988, quickly revolutionized stomping your feet. No more would gamers have to wildly mash at their A and B buttons while playing Track and Field...now, at long last, they could wildly stomp on a gigantic pad with arbitrary numbers and letters on it.

Don't get me wrong, it was kind of a good idea...but the technology behind the aptly named PowerPad was just not quite there and sadly, harnessing the ultimate power—body power—was at least 10 good years down the road. Parents probably put these bad boys under the tree hoping that junior would finally get some excercise and give his Nintendo thumb some time to heal, but with a whopping 5 games that were compatible with the PowerPad, the "fun" never really took flight. Another thing that got me about the PowerPad is that apparently it was Verboten to wear shoes on this thing (probably damaging to the complex circuitry or maybe just left scuff marks), so any time the old Pad was dragged out, it brought with it the intoxicating aroma of sweaty feet. Feet are not all smelly, mind you, but for 9-12 year old boys that bathe once a week and wear the same shoes to church, soccer practice, school and swampmucking definitely have a corner on the market.

The PowerPad, though not as worthless as the Powerglove, worked poorly at best. Any hopes of increasing your sprinting technique went out the window when the Pad was plugged in. Players had to resort to a kind of shuffle step to actually see results and then jump to other "buttons" or off the pad completely for hurdling or *shudder* pole-vaulting. All in all, the PowerPad was probably the 3rd best Nintendo accessory right behind the zapper and the electrical cord. It was probably best to just avoid anything with "power" in the name.

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