Nintendo's success speaks for itself. Two years into its lifespan, the Nintendo Switch continues to sell reasonably well; so much so, the console shipping 16.95 million units during the last financial year was deemed a slight disappointment. Worshipped for producing countless beloved franchises dating back to the early '80s, Nintendo is an institution. Out of all the various video game companies, Nintendo is the only one solely associated with gaming.
Microsoft is Microsoft, while Sony is a major electronics manufacturer and also has a side-business crafting mediocre films, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse notwithstanding. While Atari deserves credit for birthing video games, Nintendo saved the industry from the brink of annihilation and helped popularize the medium. Despite the Japanese company being synonymous with the industry, Nintendo is also the one name that truly transcends gaming. One does not need to own an NES or Wii to recognize The Legend of Zelda or Metroid. Nintendo is everywhere. Nintendo is innovative, inspirational, and unabashedly quirky. Nintendo represents everything great about gaming!
The Wii U's commercial failure is well-documented, while Nintendo's first foray into Virtual Reality tends to be rated among the industry's worst mistakes. Along with moments of brilliance, Nintendo's ambition is often too great. Putting aside the main consoles, Nintendo seems to always be in the middle of designing a new peripheral, even if most are limited to Japan. In fact, Nintendo is responsible for some of the strangest accessories of all time!
Along with highlighting a handful of neat merchandise fit for a gamer's cave, let's take a look at some of the company's most useless creations! Here are the 10 worst Nintendo accessories ever (and 10 that are actually awesome)!
20 Worst: Power Glove
The living embodiment of style over functionality, the Power Glove looks admittedly pretty awesome. While the accessory's design is obviously quite dated nowadays, the controller perfectly captures the spirit of the '80s and early '90s. Unfortunately, poor controls combined with limited compatibility ensured a short life-span for the Nintendo Entertainment System's rad companion device. By moving one's fingers, the Power Glove should be able to control the characters on screen. While this sounds interesting on paper, the fact the accessory was only supported by two largely forgotten games ensured the Power Glove's failure.
Taking inflation into account, the Power Glove would fetch approximately $150, which is quite a hefty sum for a finicky controller with barely any games. That being said, The Wizard almost justifies this thing's existence.
19 Awesome: NES Classic Hoodie
As a person fond of playing video games, the medium's wider acceptance means one can walk around with a Nintendo hoodie without worrying about drawing the scorn of normies. Gaming is part of popular culture. While some may fear this has led to the hobby's gentrification, public acceptance comes with many perks. If nothing else, it is liberating!
Mimicking the color palette of the NES console, this hoodie seems tailor-made for conventions and LAN parties (are those still a thing?). This jacket is about the only piece of clothing that flatters the Power Glove.
18 Worst: Nintendo Switch Goes Hands-Free
A hands-free stand currently available in Japan, this entry highlights a newer accessory than Nintendo's other unflattering peripherals discussed in this article. Although the Switch is a brilliant portable device, the Joy-Cons are not as comfortable as the Pro Controller. With this stand, the Joy-Cons days are numbered! Warning: May indirectly cause a deterioration in social status.
Admittedly, wearing this accessory in public is likely to attract a couple of glares. Also, rather than free the user's hands, the Switch's stand really just swaps out the device being held. Nevertheless, this is a perfect accessory for those quiet Netflix afternoons at home.
17 Awesome: Link With A Beanie Hat
Many summers ago, the cul-de-sac used to be crawling with wannabe heroes armed with swords (branches) and lofty ambitions to rescue the princess (soft toy) from the evil sorcerer (Larry outfitted with a branch) residing in the castle (castle). With such great stakes on the line, Link's beanie hat would have made a world of difference. Alas, winter has truly come.
While reminiscing over days gone, we can at least find comfort in the knowledge that Merchoid sells this beanie in sizes fit for adults. Regardless of whether filling taxes or slaying beats, Link's beanie hat and pointy ears make everything better.
16 Worst: Game Boy Camera
Nintendo's foresight has to be admired. Quite a number of the company's accessories came across as early prototypes of popular later trends. The Virtual Boy predates the PSVR by about two decades, which is approximately the span of time the technology needed to reach viability. The Game Boy Camera is another clear example of Nintendo predicting but failing to actualize the future.
Typically partnered up with the Game Boy Printer, the handheld console's camera allowed owners to capture heavily pixelated images. Mainly promoting as a cute device for children, the Game Boy Camera was a forward-thinking accessory limited by the technology of its time.
15 Awesome: Super Mario Yoshi Women's Cosplay Hoodie
Sick of seeing nothing but Harley Quinns and Overwatch heroes at conventions? If the answer is yes, then Yoshi is here to save the day! Nintendo's characters are undeniably legendary, however, they do not tend to feature too prominently at cosplay events. Metroid and The Legend of Zelda tend to spawn a couple of Samuses or Links, but Super Mario is often short of representation.
Boasting an incredibly attractive and stylish aesthetic, Yoshi's cosplay hoodie pays homage to one of gaming's unsung heroes. Outside of conventions, the hoodie is just understated enough to satisfy most casual events. 2019: the year of Yoshi!
14 Worst: Roll 'N Rocker
Alongside Nintendo's own first-party accessories, other companies occasionally step in to publish a peripheral or two. Some are fine, others are LJN Toys' Roll 'n Rocker. So, what does this slap of plastic accomplish? Does it serve a purpose? Surprisingly, the answer is a resounding "no" on both accounts. Obviously, the aim of this article is to highlight Nintendo's worst accessories. That being said, most at least have a goal.
Once plugged into the NES' controller port, Roll & Rocker can be used as a makeshift D-pad. Essentially, the player stands on top of the device and shifts their weight to elicit a reaction, which was rarely forthcoming from many games. As the accessory lacks a replacement for any of the other buttons, a standard controller needs to be plugged into the device anyway. What is the point?!?
13 Awesome: Master The Darkness
The Legend of Zelda has a convincing case for being Nintendo's, if not all of gaming's, greatest ever series. Like any long-running franchise with over 20 releases, The Legend of Zelda has produced some stinkers. The CD-i games are notoriously awful, while some of the Nintendo DS entries split the fanbase down the middle. A few failures can be forgiven when the counterpoint includes masterpieces such as Breath of the Wild, Majora's Mask, and the highest rated game of all time.
The Legend of Zelda has spawned near infinite memorabilia. Be it clothes or art books, fans are free to take their pick of awesomeness. Out of all of them, this nightlight composed in the shape of Link's Master Sword ranks among the most visually exciting. Now, every day can feel like an adventure!
12 Worst: U-Force
Developed by Brøderbund, the U-Force was ahead of its time. In some instances, this translates to an incredible product destined to go unappreciated by the masses. When it comes to this NES controller, the public was completely in the right to ignore this seriously flawed accessory. The U-Force's aspirations exceeded the technological limitations of its era. Using infrared sensors, the controller detects and translates hand movements into prompts. It worked roughly none of the time.
So many of these old "special" controllers seem to only be interested in appearing cool enough to attract the attention of a young child. How is moving your hands in front of an infrared sensor quicker than pressing buttons on a controller? Even if the U-Force worked properly, the accessory requires the same amount of effort as a standard controller.
11 Awesome: A Doormat Fit For Heroes
An officially licensed piece of The Legend of Zelda merchandise, this Boss Key Doormat should make for an ideal gift for those familiar with the property. As we happen to be talking about The Legend of Zelda, this roughly translates to a few million potential takers. Along with a cool design and a reasonable price.
Who is the boss in question? Assuming the article is not placed in front of a bachelor pad, the foreshadowing refers to the buyer's partner or their children. Honestly, cats and dogs also love to act like they own the place! To be fair, they are not wrong. The Boss Key Doormat provides a little pick-me-up while leaving or returning home.
10 Worst: The SNES Super Scope
The NES Zapper belongs among gaming's greatest accessories. Along with functioning properly, the light gun is fun to use and boasts a simple albeit effective design. To this day, the Zapper remains one of the best light guns to hit the market. The same cannot be said about the SNES' followup. Now, in all fairness, the Super Scope is a touch above the other flops mentioned throughout this list; nevertheless, Nintendo's bigger is better approach fails to translate to a superior product.
A cross between a bazooka and a sniper rifle, the Super Scope is a bit too bulky for casual use. While the Zapper prioritizes accessibility, the Super Scope feels like a premium device that sacrifices convenience for a flashier design. More is often less, and the Super Scope embodies this saying.
9 Awesome: Power Up Your Lamp
Super Mario Bros is responsible for so many of gaming's most iconic images. Who could have predicted a series starring a fat Italian plumber with the superpower of jumping would ultimately define an entire medium? Super Mario is The Beatles of gaming. Moving past Jumpman, nearly all of the platformer's iconography is instantly identifiable, particularly when it comes to the first few games. The Question Block undoubtedly belongs to this group.
Besides serving as a sweet light source, Nintendo's accessory comes packed with recordings of the different sounds encountered in the series. The best memorabilia are useful, exciting, and unique. The Question Block light checks all three boxes without fail!
8 Worst: The Future Is Later (And Not In 3D)
A Famicom accessory released exclusively in Japan, Nintendo's 3D system marks another attempt by the publisher to transform the future into reality. Nowadays, 3D may be a blatant gimmick to inflate the prices of cinema tickets; however, in the late '80s, 3D represented the next step in player immersion. Nobody truly understood how adding an additional dimension would impact gaming and this mystery helped push products like the Famicom 3D System.
Once plugged in, the accessory's glasses presented compatible games through a stereoscopic filter. A clunky design combined with barely any supported games doomed the Famicom 3D System to a lifetime of articles documenting terrible peripherals.
7 Awesome: Umbrella Corp's Gift Set
Now Resident Evil might not be strictly a 'Nintendo' franchise — but any Nintendo fan has enjoyed at least one entry on their home console. Late last year, Capcom announced plans to port a trio of Resident Evil titles to the Nintendo Switch. Along with the remakes of Resident Evil and Resident Evil 0, Resident Evil 4 will be available to purchase on Nintendo's current hardware, marking approximately the shooter's 5000th iteration.
As a celebration of the legendary horror franchise, Merchoid's Umbrella Corp gift set offers plenty of bang for your buck. The Auto Umbrella is a little on the nose, although that hardly diminishes the accessory's usefulness. Seems like its time for a job change!
6 Worst: Homework First
Compared to parental controls included in modern consoles, the Homework First device comes across as a parody item rather than one intended as a real solution. Once upon a time, Nintendo thought about the children and consulted third-party operators for a way to allow parents to limit their kid's playtime. After careful deliberation, these presumably intelligent people elected to put a lock on it. Yes, the Homework First is an expensive and not particularly effective lock.
When confiscating the console proves to be a better deterrent than an accessory designed specifically to remove the need to exercise such measures, then the latter is better left on store shelves.
5 Awesome: Treasure Discovered!
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Here we have a genuine The Legend of Zelda treasure chest storing three Rupees weighing approximately 400g each. Unsurprisingly, such a lovingly recreated piece of premium merchandise costs a pretty penny, but the item is worth the price of admission.
Want to know the best part? Opening the chest triggers The Legend of Zelda's iconic jingle! How awesome is that? Be honest, would you be able to resist performing the Link pose every single time you decide to admire these fine Rupees? Nobody said treasure hunting must be limited to Hylian heroes and tomb raiders.
4 Worst: Speedboard
Distributed by Pressman in the early '90s, the Speedboard is literally a holder for the NES controller. Nothing more, nothing less. Without the need to hold the controller in one's hands, the player should be able to press buttons faster than ever before. Free thyself from the shackles of the human body and embrace the power afforded by this mighty square of plastic! Surely, the Speedboard is too good of an idea to fail.
The accessory only lasted a handful of months before being discontinued. Why? The Speedboard proved to be no better than a propped up pillow and less intuitive than holding a controller normally.
3 Awesome: A Yoshi In The Darkness
Simple and sweet. Putting aside the company's habit of crafting gimmicky controllers and obtuse control schemes, Nintendo appreciates the art of masterfully forging designs without any pointless distractions. While some of the later entries introduce fantastical worlds and Princess Rosalina, Super Mario continues to be inherently simple. The franchise distills gaming down to its purest form.
A lamp shaped like a Yoshi egg, the USB-powered light should fit in smugly on a desk alongside a Kid Icarus mouse pad and a Wario pen holder. Despite boasting such a barebones design, the Yoshi egg oozes charm out of every crevice! Yoshi's moment to shine.
2 Worst: Game Boy Screen Magnifier
On paper, an accessory that magnifies and lights up the Game Boy's screen seems like a potentially useful and worthwhile device. In theory, the Light Boy should have put to an end to those days of waiting for a street lamp to momentarily illuminate the handheld console's screen while your parents pretend turning on a car's backlight is against the law.
Alas, the Light Boy wrote a cheque it could not quite cash. Critiqued as a magnifying glass, the accessory does its job. Unfortunately, it never seems to supply enough light to make a notable difference during those moments that actually matter.
1 Awesome: Super Mario's Ball & Chain Chomp Lamp
Initially, the Ball and Chain Chomp lamp seems to be one of the more conventional entries on this list. Yet, there is just something special about this particular accessory. If asked to select the product's defining element, there would be little point looking any further than the chain. By employing an oscillating pattern for the chain, the lamp gives off an illusion of movement. This Chain Chomp is alive!
As an added bonus, the base is a block from Super Mario Bros. While a tiny detail, these little touches separate the forgettable from the outstanding accessories. This lamp definitely falls in the latter category.
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