Whether you’re a major fan of Nintendo or not, it’s hard to deny that they’ve been a major innovator in the video game industry. Not only has Nintendo been at the forefront of the console war since the beginning of the industry, but they also have some of the most recognizable brands. Additionally, they’ve put to use some truly unique control schemes and ways to play video games.
These changes aren’t necessarily for everyone, but they’ve still marked major movements for both Nintendo and the industry as a whole. Gamers may not like when these methods are forced upon them, but they’re impressive when featured in an optional, limited capacity. In spite of all of Nintendo’s accomplishments and successes, there are still plenty of examples of hardware, peripheral, and controllers that totally miss the mark. Accordingly, Here Are 20 Nintendo Controllers That Make No Sense.
20 Super Nintendo LifeCycle Entertainment Bike
Kudos to Nintendo for trying here, but this always felt like it was meant to be more of a niche fascination than anything that was supposed to be a mainstream success. Basically, in an effort to appeal to health nuts and promote fitness in gaming (decades before Wii Fit), Nintendo designed the LifeCycle Entertainment Bike for the Super Nintendo, which is pretty much an exercise bike controller that’s just used to play two games, Entertainment Mountain Bike Rally and Speed Racer. On top of that, it cost $800 and that was back in 1994.
19 GameCube ASCII Keyboard Controller
Keyboard incorporation in gaming is always going to be a little clunky, but in most circumstances there’s just a specially branded keyboard that can be connected to console. Nintendo wanted to be a little different when it came to the necessity of a keyboard for the GameCube's Phantasy Star Online, but the result is a real monstrosity. This controller just sticks a full keyboard in the middle of a GameCube controller and stretches the thing out to an absurd degree.
18 Konami LaserScope
The original Nintendo Entertainment System was full of a number of bizarre attempts to add even more layers to the primitive video games of the time. The LaserScope peripheral curiously features a number of features that would later be implemented in gaming, like light guns and voice controls, but it’s done to an incredible rudimentary degree here. The LaserScope only really functions with one game and it feels like the whole device is meant to just look high-tech than actually be functional.
17 Resident Evil Chainsaw Controller
Resident Evil 4 may basically be on every console imaginable at this point, but when it was first released as a GameCube exclusive, it was a major turning point for Nintendo. To celebrate this occasion, a rather insane controller was released that’s meant to look like a blood-drenched chainsaw. The crazy controller also comes with an elaborate display case and it’s just surprising to see such a mature controller designed for a Nintendo console of all things
16 Wii Bowling Ball
Nintendo’s Wii was a super popular console, but it was also a very divisive moment for the company since it marked a major shift that caters towards casual gaming in many respects. The Wii’s motion controls were a double-edged sword for their games and even though they weren’t always perfect, the Wii Sports “game” that’s bundled with the console was a great demonstration of how they can be done right. Accordingly, a docking controller for the Wii Remote that’s shaped like a bowling ball in order to “help” with things like the bowling section in Wii Sports was released. It is absolutely unnecessary and seems more like a trick on non-gamers than anything else.
15 NES Power Pad
“Now you’re playing with body power!” That’s what the Nintendo’ Power Pad proudly boasted, but this was evidently a mostly empty promise. The Power Pad is a large floor bad that features 12 buttons that are designed to be hit with your feet or Twister style. It was supposed to primarily aid with the game Stadium Events, which is ironically one of the rarest Nintendo games of all time, but it did come packaged with a title and worked for other stuff, too.
14 Donkey Kong Bongos
It’s a fine line between gimmick and innovation and Nintendo are some of the best for putting radical ideas into play that are really just meant to work for a handful of first-party titles. Case in point, the Donkey Kong Bongos are a GameCube controller designed to be used for Donkey Konga and the Jungle Beat games. They’re ostensibly a set of bongos, but they can also be used for many titles, even though it’s a terrible way to get through other games.
13 Power Glove
The Power Glove has become a rather big joke from Nintendo’s past, largely in thanks to things like The Wizard that tried to make it look like a transformative gaming device. In theory, playing a video game via a glove is cool and the stuff that fuels futuristic sci-fi, but it’s really just not practical. The Power Glove is very buggy and impractical. It has buttons that can be set to do things and features microphones and speakers to detect your finger’s movements, but good luck making it work.
12 Sonic Screwdriver
This is a particularly strange controller that was put out for the Wii, but then again, the PlayStation 2 had katana-shaped controllers, so anything is possible. The major surprise here is that Nintendo would skew so hard towards the long-running British series, Doctor Who. The Wii’s Sonic Screwdriver is a Wii Remote that looks pretty darn close to Doctor Who’s famous Sonic Screwdriver device. The change here is totally an aesthetic one, but it does feature a rechargeable battery in the casing, which is nice.
11 Nintendo U-Force
Another ambitious swing and a miss for the NES is the U-Force controller. This is a device that uses the motion detection of waving hands and then interprets it into movement. The idea here is that you don’t have to “touch” your controller, but is that really a problem for anyone? The U-Force barely works and it makes tough games like Punch-Out!! even more impossible.
10 Super Scope
Eat your heart out, NES Zapper, the Super Nintendo’s Super Scope makes the Nintendo light gun look like a freaking finger gun in comparison. The Super Scope is huge to the point that it verges on ridiculousness. It’s a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher style light gun that requires six AA batteries at that. It’s bundled with Super Scope 6, but it only works with a dozen games, which also hinders it in some big ways, but light gun titles are always on the niche side.
Out of all of Nintendo’s controllers, R.O.B. has certainly had the most bizarre life. He’s a controller that’s gone on to be an ally in games like Star Fox 64, a racer in Mario Kart, and a strangely popular fighter in the Smash Bros. series. That’s kind of ridiculous and it’s not like a Dual Shock 2 controller was ever a playable character in say, Twisted Metal. R.O.B. is a controller that’s also a robot friend. It’s extremely innovative, but it can only be used with Gyromite and Stack Up, which limits it.
8 Wii Balance Board
It’s a little crazy to see which devices take off and which are quickly buried into oblivion. In a different world the Virtual Boy would have been a massive success and the Wii Balance Board would have bombed, but alas, that is not this world. The Wii Balance Board was technically a success, but it’s such a a weird idea to stand on a controller and deal with weight as a gaming component. It was pioneered for Wii Fit, but still put to use for other titles.
7 NES Speedboard
So this is something that just has zero logic behind it. It almost feels manipulative with how pointless it is. The Speedboard is kind of like a docking holder for the NES’ controller that’s supposed to change the angle at which you hold the controller, so you’re able to hit the buttons faster. The Speedboard was discontinued after only a few months on the market and it’s crazy to think that the simple addition of things like a “Turbo” button on advanced controllers is such a better take on this idea.
6 N64 Mouse
Even though the Nintendo 64’s Disk Drive addition didn’t make it overseas, it still was able to turn out a number of curious titles and expansions to Nintendo classics during its limited lifespan. One example of this is the N64DD’s Mario Paint game, Mario Artist: Paint Studio. Much like the SNES’ version of the game, this title also incorporated a mouse controller. The N64 mouse works great in Mario Artist, but it’s an extremely messy way to work through any other game and it’s even less useful than the SNES Mouse.
5 Roll & Rocker
The Roll & Rocker is the NES peripheral where “YOU become the directional control pad!” Is that something that people ever desired? This controller requires players to stand on a tilting platform that becomes a living directional-pad for games. This controller is highly buggy, it didn’t make games any easier, and it didn’t catch on, but it’s perhaps a weird precursor to the gaming pads that would become practical later.
4 Wii Wheel
Controllers like the Wii Wheel are almost insulting in the sense that they kind of assume the player doesn’t have an imagination. Nobody needs such a method to believe that they’re driving a car, but that’s what this posits. The Wii Wheel is a docking controller for the Wii Remote that’s supposed to help and amplify performance in Mario Kart Wii via the motion control, but it’s again more a gimmick than anything that’s really practical. However, this got popular enough that it was eventually bundled with the title in some packages.
3 Tony Hawk: Ride Skateboard Controller
Efforts like Tony Hawk: Ride, while ambitious, are almost kind of sad due to the magic that was present in the original games. The series shouldn’t need to jump through hoops to give players a good skateboard gaming experience, but that’s exactly how Tony Hawk: Ride tries to win over its audience. Ride utilizes a skateboard controller that the player rides in order to simulate the skateboarding in the game. While a multi-console title, Ride feels particularly within the Wii’s experimental motion control wheelhouse.
2 Game Boy Camera And Printer
It’s sometimes dangerous to be ahead of your time and that’s sadly what kind of feels like happened with the Game Boy Camera and Printer. The devices worked, but this was the ‘90s so camera technology in general wasn’t anything amazing. So while extremely limited, it did work and also had games within it that utilize the mechanics of the Camera, making it a controller of sorts, too. It’s also pretty cute that you’re able to print out your certificate in Pokemon after getting all 150 creatures!
1 Nintendo Labo VR
The Nintendo Labo VR is the most recent of Nintendo’s mad experiments so it remains to see how long it will be supported and if it will grow into anything more significant. The idea of a build-it-yourself controller may be very gimmicky, but it also feels like classic Nintendo and it’s kind of incredible in principle. Nintendo later incorporated VR components into games like Super Mario Odyssey, so the Labo is becoming functional with more and more titles.
These are all of the most ridiculous and obtuse controllers for Nintendo consoles that we could put together, but there are even more oddities out there. Sound off over your favorites in the comments below!
Sources: DenOfGeek.com, Polygon.com, Kotaku.com