The Nintendo Hands-Free Controller

The Detroit Free Press - Tony Link

December 21, 1989

The Nintendo video-game manufacturer, once blasted for its marketing practices, is garnering praise for a new accessory.

It's called the Hands Free Controller, and it allows manually handicapped individuals to play all but about 10 of the 150 games produced for the Nintendo Entertainment System, says Susan Lietz, a spokeswoman for Nintendo of America, Inc.

The Nintendo system, which turns a home television set into the format for scores of games, is estimated to be in use in more than 11 million American homes.

Nintendo was criticized this time last year when it introduced a new control device called the Power Pad. For veteran owners of Nintendo, using the Power Pad required a new Nintendo system for about $150.

The Hands Free Controller works with any Nintendo game package, except for about 10 that use the Zapper light gun or the Power Pad, Lietz said.

It consists of a small plastic box that can be strapped to a player's chest. The device includes a modified joy stick that players can manipulate with their chin. Players further can control action by making small puffs and inhalations through a tube attatched to the box.

Praise has come from such organizations such as the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, which tested the controller.

"We thought it was a good product, and we congratulated them on going out of their way to make their product accessible to people who have spinal-cord injuries," said Richard Porubcansky, the association's executive director. "It's my understanding that the reson they developed it was not for a profit-increased motive."

Lietz said Nintendo produced the product after receiving requests from individuals who had used the entertainment system before suffering injuries that took away use of their hands.

Nintendo is selling the device at cost, $120, plus tax and shipping, she said. For credit-card orders, call 800-422-2602, 7 A.M. - 1 A.M., Monday-Saturday. For mail orders, write Nintendo of America, Inc., P.O. Box 97032, Redmond, Wash. 98073-9732. Delivery takes four to six weeks, Lietz said.