The 6 Most Ill-Conceived Video Game Accessories Ever
Every time a new console comes out, there's a flood of accessories made to help people get the most out of their gaming session. Customized colors, shapes, decals for the style conscious, game genies for those who like to play a game on God Mode and comfort grips for the endurance gamer. Then there are accessories made by companies that are clearly run by mad scientists.
The Wii Car Adapter
You can play the Wii in your car.
You can crash your car while playing the Wii in your car.
We don't think that manufacturers actually decided to build these specific power adapters and LCD screens for the Wii, but rather decided to throw a Wii tag on stuff they had lying around in the warehouse. No thought was given to the horrible, horrible consequences.
Don't get us wrong, setting up a small screen hooked up to a PlayStation 3 or an Xbox 360 in your SUV or minivan can be a great way to pass the time on a long trip. If you're the kid you won't get bored and start whining, and if you're the parent who won't have thoughts about late-age adoption or vasectomies.
But then we have the Wii, a machine based entirely on the concept of flailing your arms around while you play. Only now it's confined to the cozy backseat where you're three inches away from the passenger beside you (instead of the recommended three feet for some Wii games) and within arm's reach of the driver's head.
Yes, to play the Wii in your car is to laugh in the face of death. In a couple of years, we won't see teenagers drag racing, they'll be pairing up and playing cross-car matches of Wii tennis.
The Sega Activator (For The Sega Genesis)
Finally you'll be able to feel like you're part of the game. When you punch, your guy punches, when you kick, your guy kicks and when you do a jump kick you'd finally be a little closer to becoming an international super-ninja.
Released in 1993 when Sega had an incredible 65 percent market share in the video game industry, the Activator seemed like a gift from the video game gods, sent decades ahead of its time. No more clunky A, B, Up, B, for finishing moves in Mortal Kombat. Just reach on down to the ground and whip your arm back up to remove your opponent's spine.
Well, no. Instead of button mashing you had to move your arms into one of the eight quadrants that made up the activator.
So to do Sub-Zero's fatality instead of pressing Forward, Down, Forward, A, you just had to throw a punch exactly in front of you, then one exactly behind you, another in front, and then one more punch behind you on either side.
Kano's finishing move combo? Turn, pivot, slide, jazz hands.
Even if you did move your arm at the right time and in the right area you had to deal with your ceiling screwing everything up. Yes, if you didn't have a low, flat ceiling without ceiling fan and no ceiling lights/chandelier, then you couldn't use the Activator because all the magical infrared beams would get distorted.
The instructional video also warns against using it with mirrored ceilings. Hell, Sega, that eliminates every room in our house! We suppose you've got something against leather curtains and satin leopard-skin sheets, too?
AlphaGrip AG-5 PC Gaming and Text Entry Controller
This monstrous controller will increase your efficiency in all your computing duties, from writing email to doing up financial spreadsheets while also allowing you to become the master of every video game ever made.
The AlphaGrip's idea of making things easier is by simplifying the keyboard and mouse that PC gamers are so used to, and cramming it all into one controller. While the average PC game controller has 12 to 15 buttons, the AlphaGrip makes things easier by having only 42. So it's like simplifying Shakespeare by translating it into Klingon.
Wait, there's more
The 42-key design was to allow all 10 fingers to be in use at the same time. Apparently the makers felt that your pinky finger was getting left out of all the fun. The makers also couldn't think of 42 functions for the buttons so 6 of the buttons are SHIFT keys.
There is a capital-shift, punctuation-shift and number-shift on both the left and right sides of the controller (don't worry, they didn't forget caps lock). The creators obviously know that when you've just died on screen you can never find that shift key fast enough to type out OMG H@XoRz!!!!
If you count the shift-key combos, you can do 700 different functions, none of which will help you get a girlfriend.
The Power Glove for the Nintendo Entertainment System (1989)
Wearing this glove will make you a god among 10-year-olds. You would be able to kill those impossible bosses with your pinky finger and go through puberty three years early because of how manly this piece of hardware would make you.
The Power Glove was the most awesome looking accessory Nintendo had ever made. It looked especially awesome in the feature-length commercial/movie The Wizard (starring Fred Savage). Movie villain Lucas Barton had the memorable catchphrase, "I love the Power Glove. It's so bad!"
Just like the Activator, the Power Glove had sensors, in this case three clunky sensors that you had to attach to your TV: two on top and one on the side. Once they were in place and stayed there for more than five minutes you could start calibrating the orientation of the glove by pointing your knuckles at the sensors for a prolonged length of time.
The finger controls themselves either didn't work at all, or they worked and never turned off making a game of Super Mario Bros. an experiment in trying to keep a suicidal Mario alive as he constantly jumped in front of goombas or down deep dark holes while you flailed your glove around in frustration.
The Japanese manufacturer of the glove went bankrupt, though Mattel (the US manufacturer) did better thanks to The Wizard convincing kids to buy it (that is, forcing their parents to buy it for them). That year many a child learned a hard lesson that trusting Hollywood product placement when making their buying decisions.
The Atari Mindlink
You can kill pixels with your mind.
The Mindlink was a headband made for the Atari 2600 and other Atari consoles. The Mindlink advertised that it could read your mind. It didn't.
That's probably a good thing, since it was likely you didn't want your parents to see an on screen interpretation of your adolescent mind. What the Mindlink actually did was read the movement that your head made when you shifted your eyebrows. And no, not even in the '80s was it cool to play a video game with your eyebrows.
During testing most gamers got headaches from having to concentrate hard enough to move their eyebrows in just the right way so that the headband's infrared sensors would detect the movement and project it back to the console. Don't believe them? Turn on the radio and try to move your eyebrows in time to the beat for a half hour or so. We'll wait.
The Atari Mindlink was intended to be released in 1984. Yes, "intended." It was so awful it never even made it to production. Another fun note was that this controller was being designed during the great video game crash of 1983-'84. We suspect if this thing had made it to the market, the gaming industry would have died forever.
R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy)
It's a robot.
It's a ingeniously designed marketing ploy to get people to buy the Nintendo Entertainment System. R.O.B. was a cute robot that didn't really do much. By pushing a button on the regular NES controller you could get the R.O.B. to move his arms, turn from side to side or push a button on the base of his frame. During a game, the action that R.O.B. performed would cause something to happen on screen (maybe).
This would be very entertaining for a while until you realized that the R.O.B. was so slow, you could just hit the buttons on the R.O.B. yourself and move his arms and head and save time. He was there more to impede the game than anything else. So what was Nintendo thinking?
Well, the R.O.B. and the NES came out in 1985, in the wake of the North American Video Game Crash of 1983-'84. The market was flooded with at least 14 different consoles, each with their own separate line of games, each of them mostly horrible. Most consumers simply walked away.
The NES came along, bundled with R.O.B., and immediately stood out. What other console came with a robot buddy? Kids imaginations ran wild. By the time they figured out the robot was worthless, they were already addicted to Mario and Legend of Zelda.
Nintendo sold one million consoles in North America in their first year. Having established a foothold in the market, Nintendo quietly stopped selling the R.O.B. bundles and sold the NES on its own.
We're still waiting for somebody else to try this, and 23 years later they could actually include a robot that works--maybe one that talks and can sit on the sofa and play games with us. And is female.
If you liked that you'll probably enjoy our look at The 7 Commandments All Video Games Should Obey. And don't forget to check out our point by point demonstration of why the new Mike Myers movie is going to be awful.