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njsykora avatar 9:01 AM on 05.01.2008
Control Freaks: #3 - The Action Chair

The Matel Power Glove (yes, THAT Power Glove) and the Quickjoy Foot Pedal were its companions when it made its TV debut in 1992 on the second episode of Channel 4's legendary Gamesmaster. However while one of those has drifted into legend and the other been somewhat transformed into a successful peripheral now used with steering wheels worldwide the one I want to talk about today is something I only got to use once and which has drifted into obscurity. Welcome to Control Freaks.

Episode 3 - The Sega Action Chair


The Sega Action Chair, shot point blank with every shell of the ugly shotgun.

In the same year Nintendo started to play around with motion control for the first time, Sega were doing their own form of 'motion control' for the Master System. That massive lump of black plastic you see above you is the Sega Action Chair, designed to fully immerse the player in their game and have them experience the true actions of the game world.

You know that rich kid on every street? You know, the one who had the Turbografx? The one who had the N64 AND the PS1? The one who's house you only went to because you wanted to play Pokemon Stadium but couldn't afford an N64 of your own? Yeah that guy. Well I had that guy when I was growing up with the Master System and that guy dropped the full price for the Action Chair. A mind numbing 100 was the price tag on that thing, even the arguably more sophisticated Power Glove only cost 50.

So how does it work? Simple, as you lean in that chair or use the handles on each side to pull yourself around in the chair and the on screen action reacts to your movements. At least that was the idea, in reality the chair was just a giant joystick and like a giant joystick it was extremely hard to move without arms the size of tree trunks. The fun in the chair really came from sitting outside it and collaborating with everyone else in the room to make the game being played as hard as possible. It was for that reason that I only sat in it once, it was just more fun out of it.

The Games
6 games are mentioned in the chair's manual which I found a scan of in the only webpage to contain a photo of the chair (its not even on Wikipedia for crying out loud). Of the 6 I only played Road Rash, possibly the only sort of game I can see concievably working with it. If i was a wiser man back then I would've punched the attack button when playing Road Rash (the buttons are on those handgrips, pointing in towards the player) so I feel some of the joy was diminished by my own personal lack of imagination. The other game that stands out is After Burner 2, now I can see this sort of device working well for a flight sim and knowing how rabid the hardcore flight sim fanbase are I could see it taking off (pun intended). However the chair only tilts a few inches either way so any sense of making a massive nose dive is somewhat halted. Super Monaco, Hang On, Space Harrier 2 and (bizarrely) Super Thunder Blade are also listed as recommended titles.


After Burner 2, one of the games that should've worked with the Chair

The chair was a fun enough item, but like a lot of peripherals around at that time the technology wasn't there to fully realise the idea. Maybe an analog version sometime in the future could work but until then the Action Chair remains a one of a kind item and a true Control Freak.

>NJ

(Just a quick PS, I wanted to start a new series today on games I'm proud to own but I'm tired and ill so you'll have to wait for that)

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