Top 10 most gimmicky peripherals
Guitar Hero made the peripheral valid, but it’s in bad company: this area in gaming is a pile of secrets, with publishers pushing products in profiteering efforts. Here are our favourite examples of terrible peripherals…
The Sega Activator – aside from being ridiculously badly named – was a device that plugged into the MegaDrive and formed a ring you stood in. It then shot infrared beams upwards, supposedly tracking your flailing arms and tracking them as inputs for the game you were playing… it ultimately failed. Because it was awful.
If you ever wanted to look like a budget Transformer while playing on the NES, you had the option of buying and equipping the Konami LaserScope – and headset that featured voice controls and a lightgun, all in one (un)fashionable piece. It wasn’t very good – shouting ‘fire’ often never worked – and the NES Zapper did everything better.
The PS2 peripheral was a motion control system that attached to your wrists with retractable cords, measuring your movements by how far the cords were pulled. It was one of the best-selling PS2 peripherals, but was unfortunately limited to only a golf game and the awful beat-’em-up, Dark Wind.
Mattel Power Glove
The peripheral that’s inspired a thousand parodies, the Power Glove was an imprecise, frustrating piece of tat that was marketed at NES owners as if it were some kind of futuristic necessity. It had the potential to be so good – it even looked a little bit cool – but alas, it was just bad tech.
Reality Quest Glove
On the subject of gloves, it wasn’t just the NES that had the pleasure of its own hand-based peripheral: the PSone was also blessed with the Reality Quest Glove. The Nineties-looking thing was more of a slipshod plaster cast than a piece of hardware. It felt plastic and cheap and the connections often broke.
Tony Hawk: Ride
If you’ve ever set foot on a real skateboard, you’ll instantly recognise that Tony Hawk: Ride is a complete disservice to how skating works. The game that the heavy, cumbersome skateboard was released for was also incredibly rushed – apparently because the studio behind it spent so much time on the hardware. Oops.
Buzz was like setting up a budget quiz show in your own room – complete with obnoxious and over-zealous host, the game was shipped with a set of four red buzzers that were to be hit whenever you were ready to answer a question. Unfortunately, there was often lag, and three people pressing the buzzer at once would crash the game.
Sega Bass Fishing Rod
The Dreamcast had a range of forward-thinking but ultimately useless peripherals. The Sega Bass Fishing Rod was a pretty underwhelming experience when used as a virtual fishing tool, but when it was used in a cheeky game of Soul Calibur… that was when the odd, dwarf of a fishing rod really came into its own. Not so much for the fishing, though.
Resident Evil Chainsaw
When Resident Evil 4 was released, Capcom thought it would be a wonderful idea to release a plastic chainsaw peripheral as an extension to the package… unfortunately, if you plugged in the controller and equipped it in-game, you couldn’t do anything – the controller wouldn’t track your movement or register any hits on enemies.
DJ Hero Decks
Following on from Guitar Hero’s runaway success, Activision thought it would be a lucrative idea to target the other side of the music market – in the electronic and dance scene. The game was considered a flop at first – with the peripheral largely blamed – but the games still make Activision money, so the decks weren’t a total failure.
And it looks like peripherals are making a comeback with Rock Band 4 coming to Xbox One and PS4. Find out why Harmonix thinks it’s the right time to return with our exclusive interview