[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Turbo Touch 360

January 26th, 2015 by Benj Edwards

Triax Turbo Touch 360 controller SNES Super NES Genesis EA Sports advertisement - 1993Man, that basketball player is pissed.

The Super NES / Genesis era coincided with a second golden age of third-party video game controllers and peripherals (the first golden age being the Atari 2600 era). If you browse through the Retro Scan archives, I'm sure you'll see quite a few.

One of the stand-out gimmicks of this era arrived courtesy of Triax Technologies: the Turbo Touch 360. Representing a series of controllers for various platforms (SNES, Genesis, and NES with IBM planned, but I'm uncertain if it launched), the Turbo Touch line relied on a touch-sensitive pad in lieu of a traditional D-pad.

Using the touch pad, you didn't have to physically push down on the D-pad to register movements; instead, you lightly slid your finger over the cross-shaped touch pad, sort of like a laptop touch pad. Ideally, this should result in quicker movements, but it could also result in more errors.

There was another supposed benefit to the touch pad technology as well. This 1993 Chicago Tribune article positions the Turbo Touch as a cure for game-induced thumb blisters (at the suggestion of Triax's marketing staff, as the article suggests).

I've heard a lot about people getting thumb blisters over the years while playing video games, but I've never actually seen it happen. That's because I've only heard about it through game peripheral advertisements. Such blisters are plausible, of course, but you'd have to push down on the D-pad very hard and rub it around over a long period of time. Maybe my thumb skin is just tough or something, but it's never been a problem for me.

(Full disclosure: I did get a blister in the middle palm of my hand by rapidly rotating a Suncom Slik Stick over and over for about an hour while playing Decathlon for the Atari 2600 in the early 1990s)

I'm not saying that no one ever got a thumb blister from playing a video game, of course (do a Google search) — just that it wasn't the epidemic that companies like Triax have led us to believe.

Call me skeptical, but I wouldn't be surprised if the the video game thumb blister meme originated as a marketing angle in an era that aimed to be loud, raw, and edgy (think "Play it Loud", Sega scream, etc.). What could be edgier than actually getting physically injured while playing video games? That's intense!

I actually own a Turbo Touch 360 pad for the Genesis that I never got around to trying for some reason (I bought it at a thrift store when my Genesis was packed away). Right now I have no idea where it is. Perhaps I should dig it out and put the promise of touch-fueled gameplay to the test.

[ From EGM or GamePro, circa 1993]

(I scanned this back in 2006, at a time before I wrote down the publication source and page number of every scan. I'm sure it came from a 1993 issue of EGM or GamePro. When I run across the ad again, I'll update this post accordingly.)

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever gotten a blister from playing video games? Tell us how it happened.



15 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Turbo Touch 360”

  1. Bean Says:

    Not a true blister, but I used to suffer from what we called "Nintendo Thumb" after long hours of play, especially with more direction-intensive and stressful games (like Marble Madness). The tip of the thumb would feel kinda soft and really sore like a bruise, and turn a bit red, but never an actual blister.

  2. Jay Says:

    I did have a Turbo Touch for my SNES that I used as my main controller for several years, and personally, I loved it. I thought it was very responsive and I rarely had difficulty with missed inputs. Course, I didn't get it because of blisters, but I did find it a lot more comfortable than the standard D-pad. I had it usually combined with a Power Plug adapter that allowed for a good bit of key-macroing, plus the combined cord was so long that I could play from wherever in my room. Good times.

    Eventually after years of use the pad started getting extremely unresponsive, and I was never able to fix it. I miss it sometimes.

  3. JackSoar Says:

    I did get blisters from time to time in my younger gaming days. I want to say that the N64′s analog stick was the biggest cause, but I also had a problem with the rubber caps wearing off my PS1 DualShock controllers, which may have caused some as well.

  4. Jason Says:

    I gave myself blisters playing Track and Field on the Game Boy. I discovered — or perhaps read somewhere — that you could push the A and B buttons much more rapidly by holding your thumb and index fingers together and rubbing them across the tops of the buttons. As I recall, my scores were so high that I couldn't bring myself to stop until the blisters finally started bleeding. :)

  5. Mattel Aquarius Says:

    I did get sore thumbs (no blisters) early on in my NES days. With more experience, I realized that I was subconsciously transferring the tension and anxiety of the game into increased thumb pressure on the controls. After some conscious self training to use only light button/D-Pad presses, regardless of the on-screen intensity, my thumb problems were cured.

    I later went on to be the neighborhood NES champion. True story!

    This triggered a random NES memory of playing around with the save and load function on Excitebike. I always thought Nintendo would eventually release something for that mysterious expansion port on the bottom of the NES deck, allowing game saves. It took many more years to learn about the Famicon Disk drive, when things started to make sense. It's a shame, because I designed some killer tracks.

  6. Intergalactic Says:

    Yes while playing N64 games, I remember a Lamborghini N64 game where you had to rotate the stick very fast to change tires and refuel during a Pit stop, it was pure hell for my thumbs. Also Quake64 felt very uncomfortable using those clunky N64 controllers.

  7. Matt Says:

    D-Pad on all the playstation controllers always give me blisters.

  8. Benj Edwards Says:

    You know, I do recall getting that "Nintendo Thumb" thing while playing with a thumbstick on the N64 or PS2. It's probably just one step away from a blister, although I never got that far myself.

  9. cozfer Says:

    I ended up with a green thumb a couple of time while playing the Atari 2600 (using the stock joysticks)…not quite sure what that was about…

    My friend also had the palm blister from Decathlon, primarily from that danged 1500m event - I loved that game but hated that event!

  10. nonameform Says:

    I had a blister once while playing Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure on Sega Genesis. The game gets really intense near the end, so my hands were all sweaty and the skin cracked at some point, so I felt intense pain in my thumb and had to stop playing until the next time.

  11. Alexander Says:

    Apart from the Nintendo Thumb once or twice, I never really experienced soreness or blisters from extended gameplay.

    I also have a Turbo Touch for my Genesis, and it is way too imprecise for me to play a Sonic game successfully. I rarely use it.

  12. Moondog Says:

    I never experienced blisters. Usually the texture in the plastic on the controllers gave way before my skin did. My Atari joysticks and Wico Command Control had smooth spots where my thumbs would sit.

  13. talcardo Says:

    I did get blisters ages ago, playing my younger cousin's NES and older cousin's MD(Genesis), because of the edgier D-Pads, I guess. I can't tell wether I got blisters from playing my own GB though.

    This was ages ago, when I wasn't even 10, and I used to have some skin allergies in my feet though, so I'm not sure whether that'd be a factor, but I think my cousins did also get some blisters from time to time.

    Anyway, I haven't had blisters ever since, IIRC. I did get some de-skinning in the center of the palm from heavy rotating the analog stick in N64 Mario Party when I rented it (which wasn't often, as I didn't get all that much of a kick from the game, anyway), although I learned soon and my rotation technique improved enough not to destroy my hand in the process.

  14. Charles Says:

    I do get a thumg blister everytime I play Mortal Kombat on Genesis (those down-right moves…) on the original 3-button controller. It doesn't seem to happen when I use a 6-button.

  15. idisjunction Says:

    Not really a blister, but I have a permanent wrist callus from using a mouse that used to get painful and crack occasionally. I keep it trimmed these days.

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