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The weirdest way to play an obscure racing game: deodorant and a soccer ball

Computer scientist Tom Tilley is known for his inventive controllers

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Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Computer scientist Tom Tilley is known for his hacked joysticks and the world’s largest Game & Watch. His latest creation is much more humble, using things most of us can find in our home: a bunch of empty roll-on deodorant sticks, cardboard, glue, and a soccer ball. It’s a creation designed specifically to play Namco’s ’90s Japanese arcade racing game Armadillo Racing. Tilley cleverly calls it Under-Armadillo Racing.

Tilley’s got his step-by-step process up on YouTube, spotted by Hackaday. After emptying, drying, and cutting the deodorant to fit the controller, Tilley makes an elaborate cardboard base held together by glue, which is where the sticks go. These initial three sticks of roll-on deodorant are used to hold the soccer ball, but the most important, fourth roll-on ball is right in the center, placed over an optical mouse. The soccer ball goes on top. When it moves, the ball underneath moves, which controls the mouse to move the armadillo through its race course.

It’s a homemade, DIY reimagining of the Armadillo Racing arcade machine controls that were only found in Japan. Armadillo Racing itself is pretty simple: There are two courses for the armadillos to race through. But there is a bit more to the game... If you push your armadillo too hard, it can have a heart attack, according to Arcade Museum. Brutal!

The original Armadillo Racing was built on Namco’s System 22 arcade board. If you don’t — or can’t — build your own deodorant rollerball controller, you can still purchase the board for a few hundred bucks on eBayArmadillo Racing included.