Top 5 Kooky Gaming Accessories (2014)
We’ve already taken a look at some of the greatest controllers that have ever kept a player company on their adventures. They were all pretty varied, some of them looked more suitable for the bedroom than for the gaming room, but what they all had in common was that they worked, and they commanded respect because of it.
But when a console or a handheld grows in popularity, they go on to spawn all kinds of crazy accessories to give you a different way of playing. You know what I’m talking about? The sort of things that, for the most part, only Japan could come up with. I swear, they pump Hello Kitty-flavoured acid into the water over there. If I really dug deep, I could probably come up with accessories that don’t even bear mentioning (I could see myself finding troubling accessories built purely for games like Custer’s Revenge, and becoming scarred by it). Here, in no particular order, we take a look at 5 kooky gaming accessories that you may have seen or at least heard of before, and what makes them so bonkers. Enjoy!
1. TRANCE VIBRATOR (REZ, PS2/DREAMCAST)
A USB VIBRATOR… IS THERE ANYTHING USB CAN’T DO?
Quiet down the back please! If you haven’t heard of Rez, know that it’s a rail-shooter music game for the PS2 and Sega Dreamcast. Rail-shooter music game? What?! Well, you play as a sort of humanoid shape that flies through an intensely colourful and vibrant path, and, as per usual in these gigs, you blow enemies away with beams of light as they come towards you. Ah, like those Sin and Punishment games! Yes, but the unique selling point of Rez is that the game’s sound effects and music are created all by you – locking on to enemies, blowing them away, causing large explosions, it all adds to the techno beat! And even the background itself and the in-game effects also combine with the soundtrack’s beats to create an ever changing environment. Sounds pretty sweet on its own, but for the Japanese-based gamers out there reading this (both of you), did you know you could buy a special edition of Rez that included an accessory for “enhancing” the game experience? And that it was named the Trance Vibrator?
Golly! Another bit of deviancy from Japan? Well, not particularly – really, the Trance Vibrator is just a USB device that pulses in time with the music in the game. That you help create! You’re meant to put it into a pocket or over your heart or something, so that your body could vibrate with the sounds on screen… yeah, I know what we’re all thinking. And undoubtedly it’ll be tough to find Trance Vibrators on eBay that haven’t been Used! The vibrator, based on poorly-filmed YouTube reviews, seems to be very strong indeed, so ladi- I mean gamers won’t feel that the Vibrator is found wanting. Seriously though, really? A USB vibrator for the game? Apparently, Rez’s producer simply dismissed his own idea for the Trance Vibrator as a joke, saying that it had no sexual meaning. But we know better than to trust the Japanese on sexual matters, don’t we Bruce? Bizarre, bizarre.
2. ROBOTIC OPERATING BUDDY (R.O.B.)(NES)
IF JAPAN DECIDE TO DEVELOP NUKES, THEY’LL PROBABLY BE LAUNCHED BY CONTROLLING THIS FELLA
The robot buddy you’ve always dreamed of! Well, maybe not, but he still looks cool. With the Robotic Operating Buddy, or ROB for short, Nintendo found a terrific way of getting back into the home gaming market (what with that 1983 Video Game Crash we’re always hearing about). Consumers didn’t much fancy the idea of buying a game console anymore. But wait – this is a TV robot toy for your child as well! Get it get it get it! And so, Nintendo had pulled a masterstroke (well, that’s pretty abridged but it mostly happened like that, there were probably other factors as well, but they get in the way of the funnies).
For such a lovingly designed although cumbersome fellow, it may come as a surprise to learn that ROB only works with 2 mediocre games – Gyromite (common as dirt) and Stack Up (pretty tough to get at a good price with all the bits). Attach ROB’s plastic little bits, put the second controller in his reach and you’re away! How unnecessary… For Gyromite, ROB makes use of spinning ‘Gyros’ to helps your character finish each level. By moving the Gyros from one location to another, he can open doors for you. Isn’t that nifty? Well, it takes him about a half hour to do it each time, and you can just as easily pick up the second controller and do it yourself… but ROB reads the screen, reads what he has to do and his eyes start eerily flashing! That’s something, right?!
For Stack Up, he has even less use – the game comes included with separate coloured blocks; the player inputs the correct sequence of colours in the game, and then ROB can arrange the appropriate blocks in the right order in any of the five pedestals around himself. Why? So that you can tell the game you’ve done it, and move on to the next puzzle. That’s it. You can’t even lose, just keep lying if you have to. It’s got to be seen to be believed! ROB can be pretty costly, and remember that’s just for two games (and best of luck getting Stack Up and all its bits, which will cost you another bomb). And he’s not even a necessary guy to have either – in fact, if anything, he hinders your progress! Apart from taking all day to move his little body, ROB loves to knock over Gyromite’s Gyros and Stack Up’s blocks as well, which certainly doesn’t help. These days, you’ll catch ROB as an unlockable racer (with all his bits) in Mario Kart DS, and even Super Smash Bros. Brawl where he’s a playable character and has a large role in the story. Crazy! Will ROB return in the new Smash Bros? Does anyone really care…?
3. POWER GLOVE (NES)
THIS GUY ACTUALLY GREW UP TO BE A SEX OFFENDER – I’M NOT EVEN MESSING
Just plain bad. So bad! Not as common over here in Europe, the Power Glove sold 100,000 units in the US (which isn’t so many, but a hell of a lot more than it should have) and a lot less on this side of the pond. This despite it being heavily advertised in that narmy 1989 Super Mario Bros. 3 advert (sometimes marketed as a film) The Wizard. The film, which is well worth checking out (I mean it’s awful in many ways but knowing it back-to-front is essential to retro gaming nerd cred) was well-known for having loads and loads of awkwardly-inserted references to NES games and accessories of the time. But the one that got more exposure than most other Nintendo products was the Power Glove, which, although fronted by Nintendo, was actually made by Mattel. In The Wizard, the Power Glove was held up as this sort of jaw-dropping complement of gaming weaponry, like its users would suddenly gain the ability to, I don’t know, beat Battletoads or something. The character in the film, Lucas I think his name is, lashes the Power Glove on, gets a lackey to stick Rad Racer in the NES and he proceeds to “play” (stand there turning the glove like a wheel while the game is presumably played via a normal controller offscreen) through one of the courses badly. 30 seconds later, in which there’s no way he would have finished the track, he turns to the dumbfounded main characters and delivers two immortal lines, comically deadpan: “I love the Power Glove… it’s so bad”. You got that right! An Angry Video Game Nerd video dedicated solely to this sad little device pretty much tells you all you need to know. I once had the opportunity to use it (trying to get some change out of Rad Racer, Metroid, one of the Mega Man games and Kickle Cubicle of all things) and was left almost as unimpressed as he was, which is saying something. You need to stick sensors on your television (good look doing this on your Samsung flat-screen) then start putting in codes for different games. Well that’s good, they have certain codes for certain games, so they must have tested everything! Right? Yeah, I need hardly say that if this thing was seriously tested, it’d never have left the drawing board – in fact, it shouldn’t have left the mind of whatever piss-taker coked-up executive came up with it. If Nintendo can’t get motion control working with Skyward Sword in 2011, what makes you think Mattel could have done it for Double Dragon? The worst part is that there’s regular buttons on top of the glove anyway. So what’s the point? I mean, really, what’s wrong with the controller? The NES job is a bit sharp around the edges (curves mustn’t have existed in the 1980s) but it works, and that’s all you need. This does not, and all it offers is waggle. Waggle before waggle was a thing! 4. DK BONGOS (NINTENDO GAMECUBE)
JUST TRY WAVEDASHING IN SMASH BROS MELEE WITH THESE THINGS
What with dance pads and guitars and drum-kits and microphones, music related apparel could make up a list like this all on its own. Probably the craziest of these music accessories, and one of the most popular, were these DK Bongos. They shipped with Donkey Konga and could be played with that plus its sequels, and also Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, which I’m told is a fairly decent game…? The Donkey Konga series is your typical music rhythm game, where you beat down on the bongos along with the songs. Left! Right! And then clap your hands! Or, if you’re not hooped with that, just tap off the “metal” rings around the barrels, which works just as well and saves a lot of noise – crucial if you find yourself gaming in a place where uppity people can complain about your noise (although if I was playing something as embarrassing as Donkey Konga, I don’t think I’d do it in a place where I could be walked in on either). Well, the Donkey Konga games don’t really have much lasting appeal, and the Bongos are good for little else beyond (you could try experimenting with Viewtiful Joe or something), but they’re still great yokes to have. If you’ve ever wanted to play bongos to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, clapping your hands all the while, then here’s your chance…! Or, you can do the same to the other songs in the dreadfully unfashionable line-up. It’s up to you. 5. LIGHT MAGNIFIERS (GAME BOY, VARIOUS)
OH CHRIST ALMIGHTY! THREE DECADES AND NINTENDO STILL HAD A BACK-LIGHT PROBLEM
You surely remember these – you probably have one or more still lying about the place, which you’ll come across the next time you get up off your hoop and clean your room. You’ll stumble across it, pick it up and think to yourself “Jesus! I remember when this clunky piece of shit was essential”. When a console or handheld is popular enough, accessories and peripherals will surely follow – that makes sense. But sometimes they try to do a little bit too much – like the light magnifiers, which tried its very best (you guys!) to make up for a glaring fault with the Game Boy range. You hooked the bugger on to your Game Boy (and later your Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance… yes, it really did take that long for the SP to come and rescue us from the darkness) and with it, you could shine some light on the notoriously dark, non-backlit screen. Not only that, but it served as a magnifying glass as well! So if you wanted more of a close-up on Link’s ass as you made your way through Koholint Island on Link’s Awakening, the Light Magnifier was the man for you. It’s tough to believe, but the older Game Boy range, even including the original brick Game Boy, were considered sleek in design. So to lop this jalopy on top of a suave handheld… well, it doesn’t really wash. They tended to do the job they were made for though, so you’ve got to give them all credit on that, at the end of the day. – Burkeyoh