Amazing game peripherals from the stupid ages

Game peripherals are no new thing. They've been with us for as long as we've had home videogame systems to plug them into. The first wave of game peripherals hoisted upon the virgin generation of gamers was a hit-and-miss mix of pointless plastic tat and genuinely innovative inventions. Here we've gathered a pretty even mix of the two, plus a bunch of stuff that falls somewhere in between. Be amazed.

Game Mate 2 Wireless Game Controllers
The orthopaedic shoes of the joystick world. And that antenna is a nasty eye-out accident just waiting to happen. Did anyone really hate wires so much they actually forked out for this crap?

Atari Mindlink
The idea behind the Mindlink was that it would let wearers of the headband peripheral control compatible Atari 2600 games by harnessing the power of their eyebrow muscles. That was the idea. In reality it was a steaming pile of bum gas. With all the forehead contortions required, early play-tests of the device gave people headaches. It was never released.

Vectrex Light Pen
No matter how shit-hot graphics get, the neon glow of simple vector lines will always be cool. So a pen that draws electric blue straight curves deserves to be right up there in the invention hall of fame along with the abacus, the wheel and the Wonderbra. It's one of the only things on this list that we actually want.

The Voice
The Voice for the Odyssey 2 added "the new and exciting dimension of voice and sound to home video entertainment." As exciting as this hitherto unexplored dimension was, The Voice was mostly used for saying things like "YOU ARE A LOSER" in robotized synth-speak.

Starpath Supercharger
A clunky thing you slotted into your Atari 2600 that bumped the machine's 128 byte RAM up to a planet destroying 6.2KB. Kind of like making a walking stick better by sticking on some bigger sticks.

The Joyboard
An Atari 2600 controller released by Amiga in 1982. You stood on it and moved about. There was only ever one skiing game released for it. The joy to be had with this board appears to be negligible. The Nikes on the box are pretty sweet, though.

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  • icehawk89 - June 28, 2009 4:44 a.m.

    Damn! Sign me uo for a starplex!!!
  • CorupptedCrunchie - March 26, 2009 11:26 p.m.

    i wonder wat console is illegal...
  • happaflapp - March 9, 2009 8:12 p.m.

    Hah, Isn't it funny to look back 20+ years and make fun of stuff. Aren't today's console gamers so much more sophisticated with their 12 button rumble pads and xbox live crybabies. For those of us who were around back then. It was that innovation that brought some of the things we take for granted today. Nice piece of journalistic work there Matt.
  • Thelonius - March 4, 2009 3:24 a.m.

    Great Article!!!!!
  • BigBossOSE - March 2, 2009 11:30 a.m.

    Activator* and but* in my last comment. Sorry.
  • BigBossOSE - March 2, 2009 11:29 a.m.

    It genuinely hurts me that it has literally been decades, and we are still making input devices that involve standing. Tell me, what else do you do with your legs that gave all these accessory makers the amazing idea that the lower half of your body would just be perfect for controlling precision inputs in video games that have only gotten more complex over the years (just look at the Sega Actiator)? The most basic of all human actions is probably eating, but how often do you go to a steak house, take off your shoes, pick up all necessary utensils between your toes, and cut up a steak for consumption? It's not for lack of desire, or even lack of trying (when you're a kid), bu the fact of the matter is, the legs and feet are blunt, stiff parts of your body that have never, ever been able to accomplish anything more accurate than a good round of DDR. Full-body experiences like the Joyboard make me die a little inside. The fact that we still haven't learned from our mistakes is worse. Maybe things like Wii Fit which know, standing in place, are fine, but look at Skate It on the Wii. Not doing it for me. Fuck peripherals that make you stand. The worst part is they will never go away.
  • Thequestion 121 - March 1, 2009 7:49 p.m.

    Nerd boner! lol
  • Counago21 - February 28, 2009 5:33 p.m.

    "Nerd Boner Dilemma (1977)" LMAO Great article GR, i could just smash Miyamoto over the head with a wii board, piece of crap!
  • Ravenbom - February 28, 2009 8:59 a.m.

    Boner for Princess Disco Leia first
  • Orionthefirst - February 28, 2009 6:03 a.m.

    What if the eyebrow-controller was successful? It would be epic to play Mirror's Edge like that. Look Ma, no hands!
  • reyalejandro13 - February 28, 2009 1:13 a.m.

    hey, how can you have a peripherals article without R.O.B.? the king of periphreals, and the only one still relevant. Also, Gameline to AOL? hard to beleive.
  • Montag - February 28, 2009 12:11 a.m.

    ..... must admit tho' I love cheesy peripherals, especially in boxes with their polystyrene... ooooo suit you sir! I also own 2 vectrex... would that be a brace of vectrii?
  • Montag - February 27, 2009 11:53 p.m.

    You may laugh, but there isn't anything there I wouldn't maim a fluffy kitten for, if only I could have it in my collection. If you want uber shizter then my PS1 fighting stage should be up there. Also how about an article about how modern peripherals are all just rip offs of ye olde days stuff
  • Hobojedi - February 27, 2009 11:42 p.m.

    You need teamwork and friends to win at the Coleco Vision thing...
  • Unoriginal - February 27, 2009 7:50 p.m.

    I would want to control my games with my feet. Oh wait, no I wouldn't.
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - February 27, 2009 7:43 p.m.

    lol @ monty python foot playing the massive controller :)
  • KaylaKaze - February 27, 2009 5:14 p.m.

    The Super Action controller was A LOT better than the coleco's standard controller. You really don't need everything in a single game. For example, you use the scroll wheel OR the joystick, and you generally only use the numberpad to respond to menus.
  • Juriasu - February 27, 2009 5:02 p.m.

    How many hands do you need to play the colecovision super action thing with?
  • GR_JustinTowell - February 27, 2009 4:57 p.m.

    That NES controller looks like something I read about in Sega Power back in the day. I think it's foot pedals for use with a crappy steering wheel which wasn't attached to anything, it used tilt. But seeing as this was before analogue steering wheels came in, it was a bit pointless. lol REcaptcha: Foothold Morton's... probably what this controller was called :P
  • willyfoureyes - March 3, 2009 2:32 a.m.

    Starpath Supercharger...I remember having one of those a long, long time ago. Wasn't that the thingy where you had to hook it up to a cassette player to get the game you wanted to play to run?