As a company, Nintendo has never been afraid to veer away from the status quo and try a little something different. When Sony and Microsoft were engaged in an arms race to develop the fastest and most powerful gaming systems of their generations, Nintendo was happily chilling in the background working out how many characters it could fit into the next incarnation of Super Smash Brothers (spoiler alert: there is no such thing as too many.)
Often this deviation has been good for the company. Instead of competing with the two console giants, Nintendo has taken a very valuable market share by appealing to casual and family gamers. Consoles like the Wii and the Switch are just so far away from the Xbox and PlayStation model that it is hard to even consider them part of the same electronics subdivision.
However, sometimes this deviation backfires. And when it backfires, it backfires in a big, big way.
That is how the company has been part of some of the biggest gaming missteps this side of E.T. on the Atari. It sometimes seems like the creative thinkers within the walls of Nintendo's Kyoto headquarters are playing a game of one-upmanship when it comes to designing the most truly out there peripherals.
It is as if the company has decided that a regular control pad is either too mainstream or too boring for their taste. After all, why go against decades of console knowledge and control a game with your hands when you can do so in so many other ridiculous, and often embarrassing, ways.
Many of Nintendo's most bizarre peripherals failed because they were before their time. This, however, is not true about the Speedboard, it failed because it was a heaping pile of garbage as a concept.
Video game players get a bad rap for being lazy. The Speedboard seemed to be designed to give people with that mindset more ammunition, as the consumer is essentially paying for an ugly piece of plastic that does nothing more than hold their controller for them. It was pushed as a revolutionary device that would allow for higher scores and quicker reaction times, yet it was no different to simply placing your control pad on a table and hacking away at the buttons.
This NES accessory bombed and it was quickly (and quietly) discontinued a couple of months after its initial release.
14 Konami LaserScope
The LaserScope was a peripheral that was doomed from the very beginning because it was aiming for a market that had zero interest in buying it.
The fun aspect of light gun games is in the shooting. It is found in the holding of the gun, aiming at the screen, and pulling the trigger. The NES even came with a very capable light gun in the NES Zapper, and the world was content with what it provided.
Then Konami launched the game Laser Invasion and created the LaserScope to produce alongside their title. It was a mess from the start, as the microphone that took the shot when the wearer said "fire" was either unresponsive or too responsive depending on the day.
You have never lived until experiencing a light gun title being ruined by a machine gun LaserScope because your dog is going crazy in the background.
Let's immediately get it out of the way: R.O.B. is the most blatant ripoff of Johnny 5 that you will ever see. Now realize that R.O.B. is also the most over the top gaming peripheral in the history of video games.
Back in 1983 things were looking bleak for gamers. The North American video game crash had almost killed the industry and something innovative and exciting was needed to pull it out of the slump.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, R.O.B. kinda sucked. He looks cool and all, but he could only actually be used with two NES games. His best attribute as a robot was his ability to stack blocks in the aptly titled Stack-Up, but this, along with some disjointed waving of the arms, was about all R.O.B. was good for.
12 DK Bongos
The DK Bongos could have been brilliant. They are an inoffensive peripheral for the GameCube whose chances of being great were ruined by a complete lack of titles that supported their existence.
The Bongos were designed to be used with the rhythm-centric games, like Donkey Konga. Sadly, outside of that title —and the later DK Jungle Beat— no other games were released that took advantage of the GameCube peripheral. At one point there was a rumor of a potential Wii game or two using the Bongos, but unfortunately, they never materialized either.
Nintendo was the right company to come out with such a niche product, but even with the brilliant minds within the building, most DK Bongos owners have retired their set to basement or attic at this point. Sad really.
11 Nintendo Power Pad
Yes, this is clearly a prototype for Dance Dance Revolution and all those other, similar rhythm-based dance game mats you see today. The problem is that Nintendo —in classic Nintendo fashion— made a peripheral that was pretty cool, then flooded it with exactly ONE game that was compatible with its new toy.
How no one within the company realized that this would be perfect for dancing is hard to fathom, but instead, the only game released for the Power Pad was World Class Track Meet. It is a solid game, and the pad worked surprisingly well for something that was the first of its kind, but one game? Come on now Nintendo!
Oh,it was quickly discovered that using your feet was the worst way to win at the game. As a result, no Power Pad party would be complete without half the 'athletes' in attendance slamming the mat with their fists harder than they would the DK Bongos.
10 Wii Car Adaptor
It is hard to think of a potential gaming peripheral or accessory that deviates more from its core functionality, than a Wii car adaptor. The Wii is all about motion. It is all about movement. It is all about fun and fluidity and space.
You know where there is no space?
In a car.
I'm sure there are a handful of owners out there —of the over 100 million Wii consoles sold— that thought this was a good idea, but I am also sure that it was a small number. Can you imagine trying to play Wii Golf (or pretty much any title for that matter) in the back of a car?
9 Super Nintendo Super Scope
It seems like the majority of bad Nintendo peripherals found their home on the NES, but it was not like the SNES was immune from the overthinking (and over developing) in Kyoto. One of the worst offenders on that system was the Super Scope.
This is another "concept over logic" peripheral that Nintendo blessed the world with. The over-sized light gun. Clocking in at around two feet in length, the Super Scope was an accessory you had to dedicate an entire corner of your room to storing. You also had to dedicate some serious $$$ to the scope as it ate through the six —SIX— AA batteries at a time. Not to mention that it gobbled these up at an incredible rate.
Also, for such a badass looking (in the right light) piece of equipment, the games made no sense. It is not like there were a whole bunch of tank shooters released for this, you mainly had to be content with shooting moles.
The moles were not in tanks FYI.
8 Vitality Sensor
The Vitality Sensor is another peripheral that was great in theory, but never had any practical applications. It was a way to continue to push the Wii in the direction of the casual market, with the long-term goal of making it an all around fitness and wellness tool.
The problem was that the company couldn't get it working properly and (importantly) seemed to have no real idea of what to do with the technology. It is really hard to see how a pulse sensor could be used in any type of game. Sure, it could be used as part of some of the Wii's fitness based products, but an actual game?
In the end, Nintendo quietly shut down development of the Vitality Sensor without it ever having hit the market, as it was only working properly for 90 out of every 100 people testing the device. That sounds like it would have been a lawsuit waiting to happen.
7 Rumble Pak
The Rumble Pak for the N64 is, without a doubt, the best accessory on this list. It brought feedback, in the form of vibrations, to games that we now find as a staple of controller setups today.
The reason it is on this list then is that for some reason it was an add-on pack when it should have been built directly into the controller from day one.
This is such an obvious feature that it is stunning a company responsible for some of the other monstrosities on this list didn't see it coming. Every single game out there is enhanced by having feedback in the palm of your hands. The Rumble Pak gave Goldeneye and other such titles an extra kick, but only for people with enough money to throw out on Rumble Paks for all the pads in play.
6 N64 DD
The N64 DD was a massive failure for Nintendo in the late 90s and early 2000s. The device was supposed to make use of the modular features of the N64, with the DD or "dynamic drive" allowing the company to make games on 64 MB magnetic discs. These discs were rewriteable, and the various accessories that came with the 64DD would let users create movies and animations to be used in games and shared online.
Again the issue here was one of following though. Few people wanted to spend money adding onto their console, especially with only 10 a few games that could potentially use it. The 64 MB disco sounded cool in theory, but the storage ability was paltry in comparison to the 650 MB CDs being used by Xbox and PlayStation at the time.
This one was just a non-starter, with only 15,000 total units sold of the 100,000 that were made.
5 Game Boy Camera & Printer
Imagine just how bad a photo would look on a Game Boy given its low res and lack of pixels. Now imagine printing that out and showing it to your friends. Nothing good can come of this.
The idea may have worked if this camera had been released early in the Game Boy's lifespan. In 1989 the concept of a camera and printer attached to a device like this would have been revolutionary. The camera though was released almost a decade later, in 1998, by which time cell phone cameras were already starting to be the go to ahead of traditional units.
In fairness, this device was marketed at children, and it was supposed to be nothing more than light-hearted fun. Given the limited four-color palette of the Game Boy system, however, the whole thing was just a mess.
4 Guitar Hero Grip
Every console manufacturer was keen to get involved with the Guitar Hero craze. At one point in the late 2000s, producing a copy of the game was akin to printing money. The general public was all over the franchise, and the game giants were cashing in.
The problem for Nintendo was that there was no effective way to port the game to their handheld consoles. All the fun in Guitar Hero is from playing bundled accessory and rocking out with your friends. The way that this was replicated on the DS or DS Lite was an ugly, unwieldy "Guitar Grip" that felt nothing like playing the home console versions of the game.
When you add in an (admittedly decent) track list that was unfortunately marred by many of the songs being covers, you end up with the black sheep of the Guitar Hero family.
3 Virtual Boy
The Virtual Boy was marketed as a standalone console, but given the look and functionality of the Virtual Boy, it is well deserving of a spot on this list.
It was marketed as the first console in history to be capable of displaying stereoscopic 3D when it was launched in 1995. The fact that it was discontinued less than a year later, after selling 770,000 units, should say something about what happened during its lifespan.
There were 22 games released for the Virtual Boy, none of which were considered killer apps. The monochrome screen killed the device immediately and the combination of it being awkward and anti-social to use turned gamers away. That we are only now getting true 3D gaming in 2017, shows just how far Nintendo was reaching with this product.
2 Roll 'n Rocker
LJN is known for making some of the worst games in the history of video gaming, so it should come as no surprise that the company was also behind one of the most embarrassing peripherals of all time too.
The Roll 'n Rocker was as simple in concept as it was pointless. Instead of using a regular controller with you hands, you could instead step on the contraption and control the game instead with your feet. Simply put: we use our hands to controls things for a reason. We do not drive cars with our feet, or eat food, or fire guns. These are hand things — because hands are better.
Add in that the controller had a tendency to malfunction often and either work sporadically or —more often— not work at all, and you have the recipe for a commercial disaster.
1 NES Power Glove
The NES Power Glove is simply in a class of its own when it comes to poorly conceived, poorly designed, and poorly executed video game controllers on the Nintendo systems.
The Power Glove did not come packaged with a game, and the two games that were released for it did not sell well. While it was a cool early attempt at virtual reality, and while the glove has since developed a cult following, it was nigh on unusable when needed because of its imprecise and unintuitive controls.
While Super Glove Ball and Bad Street Brawler both tried to lift the Power Glove above a novelty piece, neither was able to do so. It is, however, undeniable that the glove has become a part of popular culture, with even an internet meme establishing its legacy as a peripheral that is so bad that it is good.