Aura Interactor - not quite as good as advertised

Aura Interactor – not quite as good as advertised

The hype for Mortal Kombat 11 causes a reader to recall his childhood memories of one of the Mega Drives worst peripherals.

The upcoming release of Mortal Kombat 11 has me excited. I havent played a fighting game since the original Injustice in 2013, but Mortal Kombat 11 looks and sounds promising. However, whenever a new Mortal Kombat is released it always reminds me of the crushing, self-created hype only gaming can produce.

If you are a gamer then there arent many things in this world that generate as much as excitement, hype and intrigue as getting a new console. Couple that with Christmas and you have fever-level excitement. Even now, in my mid-30s, I still get disappointed at Christmas if I know I havent got some sort of electronic gaming peripheral underneath the tree.

I remember when the Wii U was a year past its release date and was clearly struggling with sales. New games were few and far between. Third party support was near non-existent and the only real games to dream about were the then untitled new Zelda game. This later being revealed as Breath Of The Wild, which turned into the swansong for the Wii U. The future was bleak for Nintendos bulbous rectangle. Its writing was on the wall and most gamers knew it. Including myself.



But knowing this hardware would be most likely discontinued by the big N in the near future, there was still hope that my girlfriend would somehow surprise me, read my mind, and have one under the tree for me. It didnt happen. I didnt ask for one and she didnt get me one. It was probably for the best. But this didnt stop me from feeling a slight tinge of disappointment on Christmas Day. Because Christmas just isnt Christmas without a new toy that plugs into the TV.

Back in 1995, my Christmas was going to be special. My Sega Mega Drive was my Woody doll. My number one toy. It was getting old but it hadnt been replaced yet and was the captain of the family room. The PlayStation had been released in September of the same year and was changing the way we would perceive gaming. It heralded a new wave of 3D gaming. It was expensive and not many people had one. I knew this wasnt going to be under the tree. It was beyond my familys price range, and this was OK.

As Sonys console was not an option, I was longing for that feeling of having a new console under the tree. That feeling of anxiety in my stomach when eating our Christmas breakfast knowing that within the hour, I would be on the cusp of a new frontier. A new experience. What drove me to the path I took was probably a psychological sacrifice. After seeing a couple of convincing adverts on TV, and the odd magazine feature, I told my parents what I wanted for Christmas. On 25th December 1995 I would be harnessing the power of the Aura Interactor.



The Aura Interactor was a wearable force feedback suit developed by Aura Systems in late 1994. Compared to the state-of-the-art PlayStation it was reasonably priced, which made it a perfect candidate for Christmas Day. It was apparently the first haptic suit available on the market. The effect was that it would make vibrations based on your gameplay from the supported SNES or Sega Mega Drive. Retrospectively, I suppose it was the precursor to the N64 Rumble Pak and the later, more streamlined, PlayStation DualShock controllers. Aura signed a deal with Acclaim to help promote their product alongside the Fortnite of 1995, the all-conquering Mortal Kombat II.

To me, the Interactor was a technical marvel that would transform gaming. A suit that would make you feel your game. It would plug into my Sega Mega Drive and in my mind, would turn my games into virtual reality style experiences. My 11-year-old self didnt know any better and the Internet was not the purchasers manual it is today, so nothing was going to discourage me. This was it. This was going to be my Christmas Day salvation.

The box itself came with all the trappings you would want from a console-replacement Christmas present. A big box covered in superlatives. Long complicated wires, a large black heavy plastic backpack with straps, small electrical bits that didnt really look like they would fit into either the console or the TV. It was perfect. It was everything I expected. It was mine and it would soon be transporting me to the year 2199.


Eventually, after patiently waiting for the rest of my family to open their presents (we have particular traditions on Christmas Day), I was free. It was time. I lugged the heavy box across the hall way and started the process of wiring myself in…

This was not so easy. This wasnt a new console, so you couldnt just plug into the same port on the back of the TV as the Mega Drive. It had to work with the Mega Drive. There were plugs and wires which didnt seem to be colour coordinated. No square plugs for square holes. After a while, and with assistance from both my brother and dad, the Interactor was good to go.

As an 11-year-old, I had no real income apart from birthdays and Christmas which meant acquiring new games was a rare treat. My gaming library wasnt vast. I was the only one of my friends who had a Mega Drive, which meant there was no option to swap games. All my games were like well read books. Films that had been seen a dozen times.

As advertised, the Interactor was supposed to work best with Mortal Kombat II. It was my favourite game at the time, but I had already meticulously picked apart the title already. I knew most Fatalities, Babalities, and Friendships by heart. On Christmas Day, 1995, I didnt have any new games to play. It then dawned on me. This wasnt going to be a new experience, but a familiar experience.


Putting on the Interactor was like being fitted to go into space. I am not referring to the idea of venturing into the unknown, I am referring to wearing an incredibly uncomfortable backpack that restricts movement and makes sitting down as awkward as it sounds. Tweaking with the two dials on the main hub of the device, which were for Power and Filter, never really made any difference to the effect. You may as well have called it Volume. It was pretty Read More – Source


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