It’s not hard to walk into a gaming store or section to find piles upon piles of gaming accessories to help you expand your typical gaming experience. Some are good, some are bad, and some are downright ridiculous. This trend of bizarre gaming accessories isn’t new. Companies have been pedaling awkward add-ons since as far back as the Atari days. We have always been marketed unnecessary and overpriced equipment to “help” us experience our consoles in a fresh way, though most of the time it turned out rotten.
This week, we revisit some of the strangest retro gaming components to ever hit the gaming scene. Here are our top 7 wackiest retro video game accessories:
7. Konami Laser Scope:
This strange head mounted laser gun was meant to be a sort of hands free firing device for any game that was compatible with the NES Zapper, but all it really did was make you look idiotic. It came with a built in microphone and laser crosshairs, both of which were awful. The microphone was theoretically suppose to help shoot the when the player yelled “fire!” but it didn’t pick up well and you could literally scream “potato!” or “butt!” and it would work just the same. All the Laser Scope achieved was making kids hoarse from yelling and annoying the crap out of everyone else in close proximity.
6. The SNES/Sega Aura Interactor:
This was basically a huge clunky vest that was suppose to make you feel thumps from sounds, so you could feel more like you were really inside the game. The up side: it actually worked. The downside: It worked a little too well and pretty much vibrated throughout the whole game, thus disputing the whole point. It was also way too expensive ($160 bucks), so most people had no interest.
5. Atari 2600 Stick Station:
THIS IS A BLOCK OF WOOD. They literally stuck an Atari controller in the middle of a block of wood and charged you 15 bucks for it. Unless you have suddenly ended up in a Ren and Stimpy Cartoon and you have a huge urge to buy LOG from Blammo, this is possibly the dumbest attempt at conning gamers out of money ever.
4. Sega Activator:
This was an ancient version of the Kinect that used infrared lasers to pick up your movements. You stepped inside and octagonal ring of stupid, flailed about like a lunatic, and often failed to execute the intended moves. Each side of the octagon represented a button, so if you wanted to hit a certain one or a combo in the game you had to be very precise, which was nearly impossible. Did I mention that if you had a ceiling fan or a tall ceiling it wouldn’t even function? Yeah….
3. The Power Glove:
Probably the most iconic accessory on the list, the Power Glove took motion gaming to a whole different level. You basically wore a NES controller on your arm that had sensors that refused to function properly, not to mention it took you ages just to get the thing set up. First you had to set up sensors around your TV, and then you had to input a code for every game you wanted to play and calibrate it, that is if the sensors didn’t fall off your TV first. Considering kids have the attention span on a rock, it wasn’t exactly practical. Nonetheless, children across the US conned their parents into buying it, thanks in large part to the king of all gaming movies, The Wizard, which featured the Glove and made kids feel like they needed it to be the baddest dude (or dudette) around.
2. R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy):
Cool, our very own robot to play games with us?! Not exactly. Nintendo started bundling R.O.B. with their NES systems as a marketing ploy to garner new interest, and it worked for a while, but the nostalgia of having a robotic buddy quickly wore off. R.O.B. would follow your commands via your NES controller, moving from side to side or sometimes performing an action in a game (though it rarely worked). It was a cute idea, but it took forever for R.O.B. to respond to your requests. Mostly everyone just sat around waiting for the plot of “Short Circuit” to happen in real life.
1. The Atari Mindlink:
Hey guys, its game time! Time to kill some enemies with MIND BULLETS. No, seriously, the Atari Mindlink was meant to make you think you were playing games and controlling things with your mind. It actually turned out you were controlling things with your eyebrows. It was suppose to usher in a new era of gaming, but after initial testing it became clear that it was nothing more than a headache for gamers, literally. Once testers complained about migraines and difficulty with the headband, Atari pulled the idea and it never even made it to production.
So most of these game accessories ended up collecting dust bunnies or eventually being collected by nostalgic gamers, but there is one thing that is certain; most of these were made to be innovative. They took risks (and mostly failed) but that is one of the wonderful things about the gaming world. They aren’t scared to try something new, and sometimes foolish. We will probably always end up with handfuls of goofy accessories to filter through, but I do hope that the creativity keeps flowing in the industry.