Top 10 Worst Gaming Peripherals

Before Rock Band, there were Power Gloves and bongo drums.

Joey Espositoby Joey Esposito

Top 10 Worst Gaming Peripherals

Let's face it, video game peripherals are the big money makers of today. Just take a look: Rock Band, Guitar Hero - both with countless iterations packaged in different combinations - even the upcoming Tony Hawk game has a skateboard controller included. The music games are the worst offendors, selling the instruments separately, or packaged as instruments-only with no game, or the game and the instruments together, or two of the instruments together without the others, not to mention that each additional sequel or spin-off game can also be purchased with said accessories.
Put simply, it's f*cking insane.
But as I said, there is clearly some moolah to be made. Younger gamers might take advantage of all the large, overpriced controllers and attachments that swamp the store shelves, but those of us that have been around some remember the day and age where gaming peripherals were more miss than hit. So spin up that memory drive, and join me on a nostalgic trip of wasted plastic.

10. DK Bongos
Donkey Konga Amy Winehouse
I'll admit that I bought into the hype of GameCube's Donkey Konga, and snapped up my copy upon release. At the time, rhythm/music games were harder to come by than they are in today's market, and having expended all of my Frequency and Amplitude resources, I was on the hunt for something new. The DK Bongos were clever enough, featuring the pads themselves and a microphone to register clapping noises as well. Nintendo promised a wealth of games for using the accessory, including Donkey Konga and its sequels, DK Barrel Blast and DK Jungle Beat.
Unfortunately, only one of those games came to fruition on the GameCube, and the Kongo drums pretty much went entirely to waste. As a matter of fact, Donkey Konga sucked. So did Jungle Beat. The two games that were the sole reason for the existence of these horrible fake instruments completely blew, and in no way justified a purchase. I learned my lesson.

9. Steel Battalion
Steel Battalion Controller 
The Steel Battalion controller is freaking cool, there is no denying that. Featuring two control sticks and something like 40 buttons (ridiculous), the whole package had a price point of about $200. In a day and age without the regular releases of things like Rock Band, this was a massive step in the expensive direction for perhipherals, especially ones that could only be used with one game.
The simulation aspect of the game was novel enough, including erasing your save file should you forget to eject from your mech when you've been destroyed, but in the end it came down to having a gigantic, bulky controller taking up space in your home that you can only use for one game, and its sequel whose Campaign mode (only playable via Xbox LIVE) was taken offline about a year after the game's release.

8. Super Game Boy
Super Game Boy
As a dimwitted child of about 9 or so, a friend once told me that you could play Game Boy games in your Super Nintendo by popping a protective plastic plate off the back of the console and inserting the cartridge into the EXT slot in the back. Needless to say, that isn't true and I damn near broke my system that I spent my hard earned allowance/birthday/Christmas/odd jobs money on.
However, Nintendo later opted to give stupid 9-year-old me a better (or so I assumed) option, in the Super Game Boy. Essentially, this was an attachment that plugged into the main cartridge slot of the SNES, which you would then plug any Game Boy game into. Though all Game Boy games would work in the attachment, certain ones were specially designed for Super Game Boy compatibility, which gave the player exclusive borders or a dash more color. Exciting!

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...

7. Any and All Wii Remote Attachments

The Mario Kart wheel. Boxing gloves. Link's Crossbow Training. Shotguns. Pistols. Tennis Rackets. Golf clubs. Baseball bats. Enough already.

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.

6. Game Boy Camera
Game Boy Camera

By the mid 1990's, the Game Boy was wearing a bit thin on gamers. It was undoubtedly a smash hit, but after nearly ten years in the spotlight, the monochrome games were getting to look primitive in comparison to the advancing of home consoles. By 1998, we already had the original PlayStation, the N64, and the 128-bit Dreamcast was on the horizon. The Game Boy Advance was still a few years off, so in the meantime, Nintendo looked to revitalize the Game Boy by releasing the Game Boy Pocket and the Game Boy Color. On top of those hit releases came the Game Boy Camera.

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.

5. Nintendo Super Scope
Nintendo Super Scope

It's incredibly remarkable that the original Nintendo Zapper was such a monster success, to the point of many older gamers still owning theirs (mine is under my bed), yet the Super Scope was a complete failure. So much so that it wasn't even released in Japan. Granted, there were no killer games for the Super Scope as there were for the Zapper (Duck Hunt, Hogan's Alley), but you'd think a sweet freaking bazooka would sell incredibly well in a country so deeply seeded in violence, particularly right after Desert Storm.

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

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

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
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.

1. U-Force


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.