8. Super Game Boy
In the end, Super Game Boy didn’t do much. In fact, I barely even used it. What’s the appeal of playing handheld games on your console? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose anyway? Years later, Nintendo would release the Game Boy Player for the GameCube, which was essentially the same idea. I suppose the next logical step would be adding Game Boy to the Virtual Console. Hmm…
Every single attachment for the Wii Remote that I’ve seen is totally and utterly useless. In no way do they enhance game play or realism, and in fact are more of a hindrance than anything. The only examples of these that hold any sort of potential are the gun-shaped ones, and unfortunately none of them thus far have been anything particularly arousing.
Unfortunately, these are the sort of thing that somehow rakes in the big bucks, particularly from the "casual crowd". Isn’t it just so fun to watch Grandma swat at the television with a gigantic pink racket that her rickety old bones can barely hold? And certainly little Kimmy gets a kick out of strapping big boxing gloves to her hands while she beats up her cigar smoking father.
I take it back. Wii Remote attachments clearly represent the American dream.
Essentially it used the Game Boy’s extremely limited power to take highly pixelated photos on your screen, and give you the option to doodle all over them. Think of it as an early version of the Wii’s Picture Channel. It also came with a few simple mini-games that utilized the camera aspect. To make things even better, you could get the Game Boy Printer, which would print out the crappy images you took on the camera onto carbon paper, allowing you to frame them and keep them forever.
According to Wikipedia, Neil Young used the Game Boy Camera for the cover of his Silver & Gold album. That’s really the only reason this peripheral isn’t higher on this list.
I suppose the reason could be the lack of games, or the fact that the thing ate AA batteries like a fat man eats bacon at a breakfast buffet. The only real notable use it ever held was as a prop in the Super Mario Bros. movie, where it was slightly modified and used as a weapon. Other than that, I’d say being able to use it with the SNES version of Terminator 2: The Arcade Game is a pretty hefty accomplishment, but this was at a time when arcades weren’t oases in the middle of a vast console desert.
4. Nintendo eReader
As I am typing this, I’m slowly realizing that about seven out of the ten entries on this list are Nintendo products. I’m not suggesting that means anything, just a thought. To be fair, the eReader was a full-on success in Japan, but that doesn’t make it any less dumb. It’s also not "technically" a peripheral, more of an add-on, but who’s counting? Essentially, the eReader was a device that plugged into the cartridge slot of the Game Boy Advance which had the ability to read specially made eReader Cards that were swiped in them. Card Packs were sold in stores, and contained things like original NES games, additional items, levels, or enemies for certain games, and the like.
In essence, the eReader concept is like a hardcopy of downloadable content for handheld systems. The most useful – and potentially "cool" – aspect of this idea is the acquisition of the much loved NES games of old, including ExciteBike, Mario Bros., Donkey Kong and plenty more, except that each game required ten card swipes, and had to be re-swiped every time you wanted to play. I have a short attention span. By the time I was done swiping, I didn’t feel like playing anymore.
3. Power Glove
Aside from its appearance in the awesomely corporate The Wizard, the Power Glove has given us nothing. I suppose one could argue it was a "precursor" to the Wii Remote, given that it could triangulate the wearer’s hand motions (poorly) and allow movement of an avatar on screen by doing so. I guess you could think of it in a similar vein to the old Battlestar Galactica of the 1970’s being a precursor to the amazing television experience that the recent series is. Essentially, a general idea was set forth, failing miserably in every way, and then someone came along and took that shell of an idea and made it completely awesome.
It’s a lot like that. The triangulation technology didn’t really work, and the "Power Glove Game Series" never came to fruition due to lack of sales and interest. Mounted on the glove is basically a regular NES controller, which just made it harder to use. Besides looking totally "bad", the Power Glove was the ultimate in trying to to make gaming look way more cool than it actually is.
2. Sega Activator
Much like the Power Glove could be viewed as the precursor to the Wii Remote, perhaps the Sega Activator will be seen as the beginning stages of Microsoft’s Project Natal. Or maybe not.
The Activator was an octagon-shaped pad that you laid on the ground, which would then "read" your actions to control a game, particularly of the fighting genre, using infrared lasers to register your movements. As you can imagine, it didn’t exactly work that well. It had an overly complicated control scheme, causing you to flail around, seizure-like, if you want to make your character do the simplest of actions.
Needless to say, in a time where video games where still more "mindless violence" than "get up off your ass and do this Wii Fit thing", it didn’t quite catch on.
Man, oh man. Time and time again, I would attempt to play Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! with this piece of trash, and time after time, I would fail. The U-Force was a device that opened like a laptop and was advertised to read your hand motions and translate them to screen. For example, striking out with your right hand would cause Little Mac to throw his right hook. Obviously, like so many other items on this list, it didn’t work out so well. To make matters worse, the player is restricted to a very tiny space of movement. At least with the Activator, you were free to flail about as you wish. The U-Force also included some weird controller attachment, which I never fully understood. It plugged into the base of the controller, and had to prongs with handles and firing buttons on it. If anyone reading this has any clue at all what the hell these things were for, please e-mail me. It’s been hurting my brain for 20 years.
Perhaps the best speaking points of the U-Force come from the advertisement itself, part of which reads: "It’s the most amazing accessory in video game history – and it will change the way you play video games forever." Now, not only is that the boldest statement perhaps ever, it may also be the truest. God knows, with one U-Force experience you swore to never play that way ever again.