Take a look in the closet, under your bed, or over there in the corner where you throw the rest of your junk. Toss away the embarrassing tangle of cords. Get to the meat of it. What do you see there? If you're anything like me, an entire host of video game peripherals you have no real use for. Either it failed abysmally upon inception or you used it once, then tossed it to the side. These accessories are kaput, and they never really served an acceptable purpose to start with. We've got five of the worst video game peripherals up at bat here. Let them serve as a warning for future creators of newer, more useless items: They're probably going to end up on a list like this eventually.
Even though I actually keep one around for when I feel the need to weep over a childhood gone by too fast, the Power Glove is infamously terrible for being useless and arguably one of the biggest stars of The Wizard. We all know it's "so bad," and that's not even hyperbole. This futuristic-looking glove was meant to track hand movement and supported two proprietary games: Bad Street Brawler and Super Glove Ball, neither of which actually work like the product's advertisements claimed. At $100 a pop, the Power Glove brought virtually nothing to the table but a flurry of confusion over how to actually program the overabundance of buttons on the side console, and plenty of hours of frustrating "motion control" that hindered more often than it helped. Did it ever actually improve anything? Probably not. Its only real accomplishment is making The Wizard's Lucas Barton look even radder than his Vision Street trench coat. And that's not saying much.
Somewhat similar in scope to Para Para Paradise's motion sensors, the Sega Activator was an octagonal ring that would supposedly allow motion-capture of the awesome kung-fu as demonstrated in its magazine and TV ads. Of course, in reality it did none of this. You could stand in the middle of the ring and pull off sweet moves until you were blue in the face, but if they didn't cross over a certain point on the ring (i.e. hand or leg over the "A" button input area" then you saw nothing happen on-screen. Aside from this being technical false advertisement, the Sega Activator only allowed full support from three games: Comix Zone, Eternal Champions, and Mortal Kombat, and using the strange device only made attempting Fatalities more difficult than they already were. An $80 price tag, underwhelming performance, and embarrassing technical issues make the Activator one of the most impressively useless peripherals the industry has ever seen.
Nintendo is a repeat offender when it comes to releasing one accessory after another that either has the potential for limited use or just makes gaming more difficult than it actually should be. While R.O.B., the Robotic Operating Buddy, is an adorable little robot that now makes a great conversation piece to have lying on your coffee table (is that just me?), it hardly made sense to actually use it for what it was intended. R.O.B. was created for use with two puzzle-stacking titles: Gyromite and Stack-Up, and was meant to aid you in lifting on-screen columns for your on-screen avatar. When it did this much slower than could be accomplished with the actual NES controller, its guise of usefulness vanished, and we all saw the robot for what it was: a cool-looking piece of junk.
Roll and Rocker
Not only is the name of this Nintendo accessory awkward, but so was actually using it. Imagine a Pogo Ball that you plugged an NES controller into, then proceeded to attempt to control any video game in your NES library. As the product's tagline tempts, "YOU become the directional control pad!" so in reality the Roll and Rocker (why not Rock and Roller?) let you make your games more difficult than they actually should have been. We should give it a little credit, likely for heralding the Wii's Balance Board, but other than its ability to inspire superior products of the future the Roll and Rocker outlived its usefulness at launch. Pity. The kid on the box looked rad while he was using it.
Motion control is the bane of some gamers' existence, though it seems it's finally hit its stride in the past couple of years. Atari was thinking forward with the Atari Mindlink in the '80s, possibly envisioning a similar future with Kinect and the PlayStation Move, but failing miserably. This awkward device was marketed as a peripheral that relied on the "power of your mind" and other psychic fallacies, while it actually tracked the movement of your eyebrows. You don't need to rely on the power of your mind to deduce how well that worked in practice.
Are these peripherals not terrible enough? What are some of the worst you've been subjected to over the years?
Brittany Vincent is a freelance writer who routinely eviscerates virtual opponents and tempts fate by approaching wayward Zoloms. A connoisseur of all things bloody and bizarre, she's available to chat via Twitter @MolotovCupcake, and is always ready to take on new projects. You can peruse her archived work at PfhortheWin.com