[ 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.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Six Flavors of Game Boy

February 20th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Game Boy Play it Loud Colors Flavors Ad Nintendo Power - 1995Three years before the Game Boy Color, Nintendo released color Game Boys.

[ From Nintendo Power, April 1995, rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Name every color of every Nintendo handheld console you've ever owned (any kind).

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Super Mario World 2

August 31st, 2009 by Benj Edwards

Super Mario World 2 Ad - SNES - 1996"He goes all over the place (and we don't mean Number Two.)"

Here's a classic advertisement for Super Mario World 2 from the "Play it Loud" era. Baby Mario looks quite destructive.

In the mid-1990s, Nintendo tried to downplay its kiddie image and appeal to the "I'm-awesome-because-I-huff-Easy-Cheese" teenage set. The company's American branch formulated a new "Play it Loud" ad campaign to directly counter aggressive advertising from Sega.

Nintendo's new marketing theme focused on the stereotypical angsty "attitude" of youth in transition, which, in print, mostly translated to grungy fonts, eye-gougingly garish design, and scatological humor. Surprisingly to some, the campaign actually worked — Nintendo regained the lead in the 16-bit market right as that era was ending.

On another note, Super Mario World 2 is one of the best Super NES games, and definitely one of the most underrated. If you haven't played it yet, you're missing out on a platforming masterpiece. Drop everything and get yourself a copy. And don't forget to play it loud(ly).

[ From GamePro, April 1996 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What's the most underrated Super NES game?

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Retro Scan of the Week: "Play it Loud!" Super Game Boy Flier

March 13th, 2006 by Benj Edwards
Super Game Boy Flier
Remember the "Play it Loud!" days? I almost wish I didn't. Even then I would cringe every time I heard or read Nintendo's ads. Nonetheless, this flier sets off all the relevant nostalgia alarms in my brain, with specific regard to the Super Game Boy. The Super Game Boy (SGB), for me, was one of the most exciting Nintendo products launched in the 1990s. You could play all your current Game Boy titles in four whole colors. But of course, I usually ended up using just a greyscale-like palette and simply enjoying the fact that you could actually see the games you were playing for once. Then there were the SGB-enhanced games that had more colors when you played them on the SGB. The SGB I bought had the first SGB-enhanced game Donkey Kong as a pack-in. It was one hell of a winning combination.

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