With the recent announcement of the Nintendo Vitality Sensor, one gets to wondering whether or not there's ever been a console peripheral as pointless and half-assed seeming as that. I mean, a pulse monitor? How fun can that possibly be? But trust me, this isn't the first horrible misconceived peripheral, nor will it be the last. Follow the jump for the six most infamous game-console extras in history.
6. Spectravideo's Compumate for the Atari 2600 (1983)
What's more fun than playing video games? Computer programming, of course! The Compumate was a keyboard with some computer innards that turned the Atari 2600 into a rudimentary BASIC programming machine. Why play Dig Dug when you can write simple computer programs? I'm sure some young geeks-in-training were psyched about this, but most people seemed more interested in playing actual games on their game console, unfortunately for Spectravideo.
5. Nintendo Power Pad (1988)
The Power Pad was the spiritual successor to the Wii Fit Balance Board: something that goes on the floor and lets you play games with your feet. Unfortunately, the only real game this thing worked with was Track and Field, and it encouraged cheating. To do a kick-ass long jump, you just jumped off it then back on, and for running it turned out that using your fists was a lot more effective than your feet. This thing is still rolled up in basements everywhere, untouched for years.
4. Sega CD (1992) and Sega 32x (1994)
The Sega Genesis was a very popular console, one that had a sizable following back in its heyday. But then Sega decided to release these "upgrades" that, when all put together, doubled the cost of the console without making it much better. The Sega CD brought full-motion video to gaming, but in a very unpolished way, while the 32x brought a nominal bump in graphics. Then when games started coming out that required these expensive doodads, gamers revolted, and that loss of goodwill partially explains the Dreamcast's early demise.
3. Rez Trance Vibrator (2002)
Yes, you read that right. A vibrator. This thing came with the Japanese version of the game Rez, and it plugged into the PlayStation 2. When you played the game, it vibrated in time, getting more intense the further you got in the game. What was it for? Well, they claimed it was for putting on your hands or feet while you played, but that really made no sense. It was really for one thing and one thing only: pleasuring ladies. Or perhaps, more specifically, entertaining your girlfriend while you played video games next to her on the couch. It's a wonder it didn't catch on more.
2. Nintendo Power Glove (1989)
Is there a worse idea for a controller than one that renders one of your hands unusable? Sure, the idea of using your hand in a glove to control games is compelling, but the Power Glove ended up showing that in practice, not so much. Since just two games ever came out that ever even tried to use hand-motion controls, all other games required you to use your ungloved hand to push the buttons on your opposite wrist, a seriously awkward feat. Don't let that scene in The Wizard fool you — no serious gamer would be caught dead using this thing.
1. Nintendo ROB (1985)
Much like the Power Glove, the Nintendo ROB was a peripheral that started out with some pretty questionable uses and was made more useless by having only two games that supported it. The ROB is a little robot that attaches to your NES and receives instructions from the TV in the form of light flashes. ROB was able to stack blocks and move his arms, activities that were really quite boring when compared to, you know, playing video games like Mario and Zelda, which were also available for the NES. The ROB, predictably, never took off.