Nintendo is a company that is known for their ability to come up with new and innovative ideas for the video game landscape. From perfecting the directional pad on the Super Nintendo to the revolution of motion control gaming on the Wii, Nintendo is a legendary force to be reckoned with. Many ideas are iconic, however, that doesn’t mean they aren’t strange. I’ve compiled a list of the wackiest Nintendo hardware that we have seen from the legendary company.
R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy)
Release: July 1985
R.O.B., primarily known as ”R.O.B. the Robot”, had a very short product lifespan and supported only a few games. He also received commands via optical flashes on your TV. Once the screen lit up, R.O.B. was ready to receive one of his six commands. Nintendo had high hopes for the hardware and, though he wasn’t around for long, he will never be forgotten. Luckily we still get to see him kick ass in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate later this year.
The Vitality Sensor is a canceled accessory for the Wii. It was first announced by Satoru Iwata during Nintendo’s E3 press conference in 2009. There is very little known about the Vitality Sensor and how it would have been integrated into video games. It was suggested by Iwata that it would have been used to relax the player, informing them about their heartbeat and body. I think Nintendo made the right decision to not move forward with this odd piece of hardware; it would have added very little to a gaming experience.
Release: October 2013
The Nintendo 2DS was announced in August 2013; soon after that, the handheld was released on October 12th, 2013 to coincide with the launch of Pokémon X and Y. The announcement came as a surprise to everyone. Hearing the name ”2DS” for the first time was awkward and felt weird just saying it out loud. However, like most of the Big N’s products, names like ”Wii” and ”2DS” become natural after a short while. Funny how Nintendo has the ability make the most bizarre names work out in the end.
Release: August 1995
The Virtual Boy was a short-lived virtual reality console that Nintendo released after the SNES. The idea of virtual reality gaming was grand, but Nintendo’s Virtual Boy just couldn’t execute VR gaming properly, given the hardware restraints at the time. Now, twenty-eight year after its release, we are finally seeing other video game manufacturers using today’s technology to work on virtual reality headsets, like the Oculus Rift and Sony’s PlayStation VR. Maybe Nintendo will take another whack at virtual reality gaming in the future?
Game Boy Micro
Release: September 2005
The Game Boy Micro was officially unveiled by Nintendo at the company’s E3 press conference in 2005. Oddly enough, this Game Boy SKU released after the Nintendo DS and was the last console for the original Game Boy line. The lifespan was short, seeing that the Nintendo DS was dominating in sales. The Micro is unique, to say the least; it was and still is the smallest dedicated gaming device you can find and even came with the function to swap out multiple faceplates. You can still find these bad boys new on Amazon, but you’ll have to pay a hefty price.
The Power Glove is a controller accessory for the NES and was released by Mattel. It was a bit of a let down due to its wonky control setup. Two games were released with specific features for the Power Glove, Super Glove Ball, a 3D puzzler, and Bad Street Brawler, a beat ’em up. Both games were playable with the standard NES controller as well but included moves that can only be used with the Power Glove. Although it was tough to use, it will always be an iconic Nintendo accessory.
The Game Boy Pocket Sonar was a peripheral for the Game Boy made by Bandai Namco that used sonar to locate fish underwater for the real-life sport of fishing. No, this is not a joke — it actually exists! It also had a fishing mini-game built in! I can’t make this up!
Release: October 2009
The Circle-Pad Pro is a controller add-on that adds one additional circle-pad to the 3DS (as well as two additional shoulder buttons). This bulky accessory is compatible with games like Monster Hunter 3G and Resident Evil: Revelations. It opened up a lot of possibilities for the 3DS; sadly, it wasn’t utilized as much as gamers hoped for. Many people bashed on its design due to its boat-like qualities. The New Nintendo 3DS also made this accessory obsolete.
The Power Pad floor mat is a controller for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It is a gray mat with twelve pressure sensors embedded between two layers of flexible plastic. The Power Pad was implemented into a total of eleven games on the NES. In hindsight, this accessory foreshadowed what was to come in the future with games like Dance Dance Revolution that also used a floor mat as a controller. For that alone, I salute Nintendo.
Release: November 2018
The PokeBall Plus is the most recent piece of hardware on this list. It’s a controller with literally only two buttons. One of which is the joystick itself. Nintendo wanted to make playing Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu extremely simple to understand. This simplistic control scheme is perfect for newcomers but may leave longtime fans disappointed. I had the opportunity to play with this controller during E3 2018 and walked away pretty disappointed. It’s just not very comfortable and makes the game feel like a barebones experience. Even if you are technically using the same amount of buttons while playing with a traditional controller, it doesn’t pull you out of the experience like the PokeBall Plus does.
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Brett Medlock is a senior editor and a lead on video production here at Enthusiast Gaming. He’s obsessed with action-adventure games, platinum trophies, and K-pop. To hear more about how lame he is, follow him on Twitter @brettnll