The NES Power Pad: Childhood Dream or Disappointment?
The NES Power Pad was basically a childhood dream for many of us. Who didn’t want to use their feet to play games on the 16-bit console? In practice, however, it mostly ended up being a disappointment. While the Power Pad was intended for foot-based gaming, most users ended up using their hands to slap the buttons faster. We all reminisce about playing Track and Field with friends, slapping the mat with our feet in unison, trying to beat one another’s high scores. But what was it really like to use the Power Pad?
In a Reddit thread titled “What was the NES Power Pad actually like?”, users share their experiences with the accessory. Some claim that using their feet made it easier to beat the character Cheetah in Track and Field. Others claim that hands were the key to victory, especially in the hurdles event, where rapid little steps were key.
There were only a limited number of games that worked with the Power Pad, however, leading many to sit on the couch and use their feet or their heels. Some recall using it for games like Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt, but the trick to beating Cheetah was to take rapid little steps, similar to the drumming technique used by NES speed runners.
The Power Pad is also known for its noise and vibration, leading some parents to regret purchasing it. “It was a lot of fun, until the neighbours started complaining about the constant buzzing noise it made,” one user writes. Other parents likely had similar experiences.
Some users had mixed experiences with the Power Pad. “I had one and it was underwhelming for most of the games,” one writes. Another shares, “I always used my hands, never got the hang of it.” Yet another writes, “It was bullshit, I’d just use the A and B buttons.”
Other users share the sentiment that they discovered these techniques independently, without the help of the internet. “I also used my hands to play every game,” one shares, “but I didn’t realise anyone else played games that way until I saw a post on Facebook about it.” Another writes, “Same. I didn’t find out about the foot pedal stuff until the internet happened.”
The Power Pad was part of a bundle that included games like Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, and Track and Field. Some users recall the fun and exercise they had with it, while others found it to be a short-lived novelty. One person even claims to have chipped their tooth during gameplay.
While each user’s experience with the Power Pad is different, the overall sentiment seems to be that it wasn’t implemented well and didn’t live up to the hype. There are some exceptions, however, with one user saying that they have “no regrets” about purchasing it.
In any case, the Power Pad is a relic of a time before foot-based gaming was refined. Some may argue that the Power Glove is just as bad, but I’d say it’s the Sega Activator that takes the cake as the worst peripheral – that thing just needs to die.
Thankfully, foot-based gaming has come a long way, with DDR pads considered a much-improved version of what the Power Pad attempted to achieve. Perhaps someday, the Activator will be obsolete, too.
The world of retro gaming is vast, and there’s something new to discover every day. Check out our best old games for some suggestions of favourites from yesteryear. You might also want to take a look at the best retro consoles around today, if you’re an old school gamer.