What if? It’s a question we often ask ourselves and it’s a question that comes up a lot in video games. What if the Dreamcast surpassed its competitors and was the dominant console of that generation? What if the Virtual Boy was a success? What if Metroid was a bigger series than Mario and Zelda combined? I lie awake thinking about these things at night. Not often, but these thoughts do come and go. My rambling point is, I love diving into the unexplored, secretive side of the video game industry whether it’s about tackling video games that never released, which I wrote about awhile back for TheGamer, or prototype accessories that never saw the light of day, aka this article’s topic.
Off the top of my head, I could think of a handful. The biggest of which is the Wii Vitality Sensor. I remember being shocked when I watched that be unveiled live at E3 2009. What was Nintendo thinking? Another big one was the ridiculous design of the original PS3 controller. I saw it previews in EGM and I had to double check that it wasn’t the yearly April Fools issue. I’ll go more into those two later, but getting back on track, I was surprised to find a lot more. Some are crazy prototypes that never left the drawing board while others released to a small crowd, or in other regions. How many of these did you know before reading this? It’s time to test your video game knowledge.
25 Wii Vitality Sensor
Again, this was shown off at Nintendo’s E3 2009 press conference to much confusion. That was the first and last time it was unveiled too. The idea behind it sounded cool. The monitor inside the device, while strapped to the player’s finger, could theoretically change a game based on one’s heartbeat. Imagine what this could have done for horror games. Well, that is still just a pie in the sky dream for Nintendo. I guess they couldn’t make it work properly. Too bad, but maybe it’ll show up again someday.
24 Sony Prototype-SR
Before Project Morpheus, the codename for the PS4’s VR headset, Sony quietly unveiled the Prototype-SR at the 2012 Tokyo Game Show. That was in Japan, obviously. It wasn’t so much VR as it was a 3D type of augmented reality built inside the headset. Personally I like the design of it a lot better than the current PSVR model. It is important to point out that at this time Sony was playing around with other augmented reality prototypes like with the PS Vita.
23 Dreamcast DVD Player
As the name suggests this was going to attach to your Dreamcast in order to play DVDs. Seems pretty bulky, right? Well, the reason why it wasn’t brought out probably wasn’t the size issue. It was the fact that the Dreamcast was only on the market officially from 1999 until 2001. I should mention it barely made it into 2001 as Sega discontinued the production of the console in March of that year. Ouch! It really was a system ahead of its time.
22 Wide-Boy 64
The Wide-Boy 64 was actually a real product in that was used by people albeit in small numbers. This was an add-on for the Nintendo 64 that allowed users to play Game Boy Color games on their TV. It was distributed only to developers and members of the press for testing and capturing purposes. So while quite a few exist, it was also never technically released to the widespread public. Strangely enough Intelligent Systems developed it. You know, the Nintendo team that created Fire Emblem.
21 PS3 Boomerang Controller
The very first time Sony showed off the PS3 at E3 2005 during their press conference, they had this controller. This was not the official name for the prototype, but as it looked oblong like a boomerang, the name just stuck with the press. Next year Sony showcased the motion enabled Sixaxis controller, which looked like the classic design fans were used to since the PS1. The only thing missing was the rumble functionality, which Sony was pretty firm on not putting in. That is until they caved. Yeah, the PS3 had a rough few years.
20 Sega Genesis Video Jukebox
Don’t let the name mislead you. This was not an attachable music player meant for the Sega Genesis. You instead loaded cartridges, up to six, into the device and could switch between them. It was an early prototype, sort of, for the home menus we are used to nowadays like on the PS4, or Nintendo Switch. This was just a very limited interpretation of that. If you were a kid that needed this, I think switching video games were the least of your problems. How lazy can you get?
19 GameCube Motion Controller
Last year someone bought this prototype at an auction. It was when Nintendo was trying to test out motion controls via the GameCube prior to developing the box for the Wii. It looks exactly like a Wii Remote, but with dark gray colors instead of white. I had no idea this existed! This is such a cool find! This is my dream: to one day find some cool prototype accessory, or game cartridge at an auction, or garage sale. I love this kind of stuff and is exactly why writing these types of articles are of great interest to me.
18 Sega VR
Would it surprise you to know that Sega was developing a VR headset in the 90s? It was meant for arcade use, the Sega Genesis, and Sega Saturn. Obviously it never made it to market because it’s in this article, but apparently, it did reach arcade units. These systems were set up like demo stations across the country to test out VR. They weren’t really big game attractions, that is to say. It was another early introduction to the experience we are still trying to master today. We are getting closer though.
17 WorkBoy Keyboard
This one is pretty self-explanatory. This was meant to be an add-on keyboard for the original Game Boy. As you can guess by the bulky nature of both the system and the keyboard, someone wizened up at Nintendo and canceled this awful idea. Actually, come to think of it, early laptops were pretty bulky too and were thus barely portable. If Nintendo created some easy to use text document program, I bet this could have actually sold. After all, Mac computers used green screens and they did ok.
16 Lost Disney Infinity Figures
Every single time a new, lost Disney Infinity figure appears online I get both excited and heartbroken. First of all, there were planned add-ons to Disney Infinity 3.0 before it was canceled including Dr. Strange for the Marvel playsets and K2SO and Baze Malbus from Rogue One for the Star Wars stuff. This isn’t accessory related, but test footage even came out for the fourth iteration of the franchise, showcasing Aladdin interacting with Yoda. It was the crossover we have always wanted, or is that just me?
15 Teleplay Modem
You know how people are complaining now that their Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4 don't have full cross-play support for everything? Well, would it surprise you to find out that this accessory, the Teleplay Modem, was trying to connect online play between the NES and Sega Genesis? If that sounds farfetched, well, it was a dream it turns out because both Nintendo and Sega shut this thing down before it was released. Kudos for Teleplay for trying to get this out in secret.
14 Rare’s Prototype Amiibo
Before Microsoft bought Rare, they were Nintendo's little darling third-party exclusive developer. Without them, the N64 library would be a lot barer than it already is. That said Nintendo did shoot them down from time to time. Apparently, Rare at one time was developing a game called Urchin and showed off two toys that would interact with it in an Amiibo like fashion. This was years before the Toys to Life genre exploded. Needless to say, the game and toys never saw the light of day.
We all know this secret by now, right? In case you don’t here is a quick rundown. Before Sony made it big with their own console, they were going to work with Nintendo in order to make a CD-based add-on for the Super Nintendo. This is how the concept started off. Eventually, Sony did make a prototype for a new system instead, which someone was lucky enough to find in an attic. Needless to say, the negations fell through and it was never officially made. So thanks to that, we have the PlayStation brand.
12 Dreamcast VMU MP3 Player
This was another planned but canceled accessory for the Dreamcast. If you did not know, the Dreamcast had a pretty cool memory card. The VMU was a tiny screen you put into your controller, which sometimes added in things to the game, or allowed you to play mini-games while off the system. This MP3 version would presumably allow players to take music out of games to then listen to on the go. Like many Dreamcast ideas, it was just too cool to be real.
11 3D GameCube
I don't have a picture for this. As of right now, there is no prototype that exists that shows that the GameCube was going to support 3D other than word of mouth. The biggest game that was planned to support it was Luigi's Mansion and funnily enough, the 3DS remake last year could finally bring that wish to reality. It only took eighteen years. So even if some of these Nintendo prototypes haven’t been released yet, I guarantee that maybe one day we could see them all. This is proof.
10 Unreleased e-Reader Cards
Before DLC appeared as a digital form of add-ons, they were material. For the Game Boy Advance that is true at least. Enter the e-Reader and e-Reader cards, little bonuses that when swiped, would add things like levels to a game. In Animal Crossing there are hidden NES games you can unlock. Someone discovered a code to unlock more. When Game Trailers looked into it, they found that, at one time, Nintendo planned to release e-Reader cards to then unlock these games officially, but they were never released. This is just one example in I’m sure hundreds more.
9 Sega Graphic Board
This is a bit of a cheat as this little tablet released in Japan for the Sega SG-1000 and worked with the game, Terebi Oekaki. The reason why I put it on here is because it never left that region. It’s a very early example of a digital pad one could use with a game to then control it. It looks a lot like THQ’s messy uDraw Tablet that bankrupted the company. Good thing that didn’t happen to Sega with this.
8 Amiibo Cards
Amiibo first hit shelves in 2014 right alongside the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. 4. Supplies were light and demand was high. It was a real problem. Nintendo's solution was to introduce Amiibo Cards, a cheaper way to have NFC capable products bestow the rewards a standard Amiibo would grant players. This article is just one example of their ideology at the time. Well, after Animal Crossing's batch, there weren't many others. Funnily enough, fans made their own Amiibo Cards.
7 Oldsmobile Expression NES
This has to be the craziest addition on this list. Is this an accessory? I mean, technically yes. The NES system was going to be built into the Oldsmobile Expression, which would then make it a car accessory so that’s close enough. This version of the car never made it to market, but a prototype was indeed made as you can see above. Who needs a trunk anyway when you can keep your kids happy? Actually, I’m sure that’s why it was canned as it was probably deemed a safety hazard.
The 64DD was a planned add-on for the N64 in North America. It released in Japan with little support, which is why it never made it out of that region. The idea was to have it be like a bigger expansion pack. This would have made it Nintendo’s third home console with a memory boost. They made a similar add-on for the NES and SNES, or Famicom and Super Famicom if you want to get technical. Why wouldn’t it work a third time? For whatever reason, it just didn’t.
5 M.A.C.S. M16
M.A.C.S. was a training simulator built for the military using an M16-looking controller that plugged into the SNES. So yes, it is real, but it was also never released to the public. Based on footage, hey, I'm okay with that. The game looks awful. Would I like an M16 I could hook into my SNES though? That’s a completely different question and the answer is yes. Who wouldn’t want one of these things with a sleek case to boot?
4 Dreamcast Zip Drive
This add-on is similar to something like the 64DD. It expanded the storage of the Dreamcast. It’s as simple as that. Because the Dreamcast didn’t last more than a few years, it was scrapped just like everything else related to the system on this list. If Microsoft hadn’t entered the market, I wonder if the Dreamcast would have succeeded. Would we have had a successor to this console by now? It’s really hard to say what company put them out to pasture. It was a combined strike in my opinion.
3 NES Super Chair
This is another rare find through a lucky second-hand sale. My first reaction was, wow, that looks uncomfortable. If you can look to the arm joints, there are buttons on it. Here’s what I think happened. Someone at Nintendo really liked Gundam and other mech anime. They wanted to build a chair to simulate that kind of combat, or feeling. Then this was produced and whoever dreamed this up was crushed. That’s the story I’m sticking with at least.
I hinted at this earlier and I have written about this before. The Super Famicom had an add-on called the Satellaview. Like the 64DD, it hooked into the bottom of the console and with it, gamers could log into the Internet to play and download games. This thing even received exclusive sequels to games never released in North America like a complete remake of the original The Legend of Zelda, or multiple episodes of a F-Zero successor. It was planned for North America, but was eventually scrapped. Thankfully emulation exists.
1 Dreamcast Swatch Access
First of all, it is imperative that I explain what a Swatch is. I had no idea before I looked this up. In the early 2000s, Swatches were kind of like Smartwatches that had a bit of data in them for dates and whatnot. This add-on would then interact with your Swatch for...some reason. I can see why the other Dreamcast accessories were planned, but not this. Maybe useless junk like this is what caused Sega to drop the ball on the Dreamcast.