Sat. May 18th, 2024

There are numerous great video game accessories—flight sticks, steering wheels, VR headsets, and many more. However, for every awesome accessory there are ten that come across as just a little silly. While I could probably fill a book with them, these are some of the most (in)famous examples.

1 The Nintendo/Mattel Power Glove

Even if you have no idea what it’s all about, you’ve most likely seen the Power Glove. It’s become an iconic part of video game history and pops up in all sorts of media. People love the Power Glove, but it was originally intended as a real gaming controller where you could use the movement of your hands to control your NES games. It was manufactured by Mattel in the USA, evoking the idea of virtual reality which is something completely outside the realm of possibility for household computing in 1989.

The truth is that (by all accounts, it wouldn’t fit me) the glove just didn’t work very well. You’d be better off just using the NES pad instead. It was (and is) undeniably cool, but also 1000% silly.

2 Nintendo R.O.B (Robotic Operating Buddy)

Nintendo ROB from the original 1980s commercial.

I’m not going to rehash the whole saga of the US video game crash in the 80s and how Nintendo had to carefully finesse its marketing and product design to convince skeptical buyers to forget how Atari burned them with games like ET.

Part of that marketing magic was R.O.B—your plastic pal who’s fun to be with. Sorry, wrong franchise.

R.O.B is a toy robot that can be integrated into a limited number of games. This helped sell the NES as a toy rather than a video game system, but as a gaming accessory it’s pretty high up on the silly-O-meter. As a Trojan horse to get NES consoles into US households, it’s less silly, and probably did help Nintendo get a foothold, but I suspect most kids probably got bored of R.O.B quickly despite my boss here at HTG insisting everyone thought it was cool. I wouldn’t know, since R.O.B. is one year older than I am. I guess you had to be there!

3 Resident Evil Chainsaw Controller

Resident Evil is one of the greatest game franchises of all time, and from Jill Sandwiches to punching boulders it’s never been afraid to revel in silliness. However, the peak of RE madness might not even be in any of its games. The chainsaw controller takes the cake, shreds it, and gets icing all over the room.

It’s a special controller manufactured by NubyTech for Resident Evil 4, widely considered to be the best game in the franchise. Designed more to be a collectible than an actual controller you’d want to play with, this is nonetheless a fully-functional game controller, and so we have to judge it as such. Ergonomics? That’s for little babies. You’ll have to embrace the pain if you want your hands to conform to this monstrosity. As a collector’s item it’s pretty cool, as an actual controller it’s ridiculous.

4 The Wii Bowling Ball and Tennis Racket

The Wii Bowling Ball.
CTA Digital

While I’m just a little too young to have been at the coal face of silly NES accessories, I was there for Nintendo’s Wii Sports era. That time when people who would otherwise never have bought a console, ponied up for a Wii just so they could play Wii Sports. While you didn’t actually need them, you could get plastic accessories for your Wii controller to make your sports feel more authentic. Such as a bowling ball shell or a tennis racket attachment.

These really didn’t do much, and you had the ever-present issue of things flying off and smashing your very expensive flat panel TV, which, ironically, the Wii didn’t even need, since it wasn’t an HD console. Those plastic toys would just have bounced off a CRT.

5 Tony Hawk’s Skateboard Controller

The Tony Hawks Ride Board.

Video games and skateboarding are a match made in heaven. It’s certainly made a certain Mr. Hawk a wealthy household name. However, in an attempt to bring real skateboarding and video game skating a little closer to each other, we unfortunately got the skateboard controller for Tony Hawks: Ride. The idea was that you’d control your on-screen skater by mimicking real-world skating movements.

This sounds reasonable, except it feels silly, looks silly, and apparently didn’t work all that well. Even full-on VR skating games today aren’t really nailing it, so this tiny surfboard was never going to be what it promised.

6 The SEGA Activator

An advert for the SEGA activator.

The SEGA Activator is basically a very, very early take on the Microsoft Kinect. Now, I would have put the Kinect on this list as well if it wasn’t for the fact that by and large the Kinect actually worked. It had some good games, and many people loved it. The Activator, on the other hand, was just too far ahead of the technology of the day. It’s a ring that you place on the ground,and then do movement with your body,such as kicking and punching. Then, hopefully, the character on screen would do the same.

In practice, few games worked with the Activator and even those that did were unreliable. So while it might have helped kids burn a few calories while playing their games, they’d go back to just punching buttons sooner or later.

7 Azeron Cyborg One-Handed Keyboard

The Azeron Cyborg controller.

You know all those silly input devices we see in Cyberpunk sci-fi? Well, what if someone decided to make one of those real, and you could actually buy it? That’s basically what the Azeron Cyborg is.

Now, I’m a huge fan of one-handed keyboards and I daily-drive a Razer Tartarus V2, but the Azeron just seems at least two steps too far. There’s no direction in 3D space you can move a finger without pressing a button, and in theory, you could become one with the game and access a million functions just by twitching your fingers. Except, it’s hardly worth remapping all your muscle memory for the scant benefits this form factor would provide.

Now, the reviews on Amazon for this device are absolutely glowing, and there’s certainly a hardcore cult following for the device, but is it silly? Yes, yes it’s very silly. It might be amazing if you put in the time and effort to master it, but I’m not paying over $200 to find out, and even if I did, I’d never want to use it in public!

OK, maybe I do actually want one.

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By John P.

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