The Trance Vibrator came out on January 7, 2002 packaged with special versions of Rez for the PS2. The USB device was supposed to pulse in time with the music. It even came with a protective pouch so gamers could sit on top of it while they played.
Sure, the Rumble Pak and Dualshock controllers both had vibration capabilities and both came out before 2002, but neither of them were dedicated vibration devices. The Trance Vibrator on the other hand was literally called that, and served no other function. When the creator behind Rez, Testuya Mizuguchi, was asked in an interview whether he hoped players of his next game, Child of Eden, to have the advantage of a similar device, one that could be placed “anywhere on the body,” he giggled and said, “any style, you can play.” And in at least one instance, the Trance Vibrator was used for more recreational purposes.
But the game itself was so good that most people have long since forgotten about the strange and intimate little peripheral. Rez’s trippy visuals and raging beats have helped it live on in people’s memories long since it first began mesmerizing people. Over a decade after it came out, Evan Narcisse called it “still a near perfect video game.” Originally released on the Dreamcast and PS2, Rez eventually made it to the PS3, Xbox 360, and even PS4, eventually spawning an HD version as well as a port to VR called Rez Infinite.
In fact, because the game is preparing to make its debut in virtual reality, some have even asked if the Trance Vibrator might make a comeback as well. Last year, The Verge’s Sam Byford wrote of the device,
“It does bring another dimension to Rez’s multisensory fusion of play and music, and while I’m not holding my breath, I’d love it if Rez Infinite found a way to incorporate the peripheral. The Trance Vibrator is a pretty much unnecessary yet gloriously gratuitous testament to the sorts of things Japanese game developers could get away with in the heady days of the PlayStation 2. Rez was never going to be a huge hit, yet Sega and ASCII were able to produce one of the most obscure and narrowly focused USB peripherals ever for it.”
He even cites an interview with Mizuguchi by Eurogamer in which the designer explained the reasoning behind the peripheral. “That was kind of a joke, but a very serious joke. No sexual meaning,” he said. “We always listen to music by ear, and you can watch the visuals moving, the dynamics in Rez, so it’s kind of a cross-sensation feeling.”
In the same interview, Mizuguchi claimed the idea for the Trance Vibrator was his, and added that while he’s heard stories of some players holding the device in their mouths, he prefers to keep it by his foot. Unfortunately for Dreamcast owners, the vibrator was exclusive to the PS2 version of the game, although that didn’t stop some people from making their own.