Nintendo's most-failingest peripherals

N64 DD


What it was supposed to do: Enhance the Nintendo 64 so it could store more data and allow players to create their own content via several proposed art programs. The initial list of games was extremely strong, with Zelda, Mario, Pokemon and Kirby titles all allegedly in development.

Above: The DD’s startup screen with no disk inserted

What it actually did: Suck, a lot. It lingered in the ether for years, finally releasing in Japan in 1999, just as the PlayStation 2 was about to curb stomp what little resistance Nintendo had left. Too little too late, and it was never seen outside of Japan.

Number of games that used it: Around nine in Japan, none elsewhere. Most of the games touted as system-sellers ended up on PlayStation (Dragon Quest VII) or converted to N64 cartridge (Majora’s Mask), so it was clear that no one, not even Nintendo, expected this to take off. You’d think everyone would have seen that coming sooner, considering the Famicom Disk System (another Japan-only disk device) didn’t pan out either.


What it was supposed to do: Let you play classic NES games on Game Boy Advance via special cards that were sold separately. Each pack of cards contained an entire game, with titles like Donkey Kong, Mario Bros. and Excitebike leading the charge.

Above: Cool commercial, awful idea

What it actually did: Make some of the simplest games of all time incredibly complicated to play. Want to play a one-screen game like Donkey Kong? Why put one cartridge into the GBA when you could spend 5 minutes swiping cards through a clunky, overpriced peripheral? The entire concept made no sense, as even these dead-simple games required multiple cards (and multiple swipes) to play. To make matters worse, the e-Reader didn’t fit properly on the GBA SP, which was released just one year later.

Number of games that used it: The initial 13 games functioned fine, but again, no one wanted to fumble around with a bunch of easily bent/lost/ruined cards. Other games, like Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire and (deep breath) Super Mario Bros Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3, let you swipe cards for bonus items, a feature that took off in Japan but floundered everywhere else.

Two different microphones


What they were supposed to do: Let you control games <boomy voice> WITH YOUR VOOIIIICE </boomy>

Above: A kid obsessed with turning around

What they actually did: Recognize a handful of words and jumble ‘em up so even simple operations were more trouble than they’re worth. Hey You, Pikachu! walked away with awful reviews and the GameCube era microphone met similar criticism. As with most of the products in this article, the mics shipped with one key game, maybe had some follow ups, and were then discarded.

Number of games that used it: Two for the N64 mic (only one made it to the US, none elsewhere) and four for GameCube (two were Mario Party 6 and 7). That’s two total losses in two generations. Take it easy on microphones, OK?

DK Bongo Controller


What it was supposed to do: Uh, let you play fake bongos? That seems very specific…

Above: All the focus group-approved young adults are doing it!

What it actually did: Hrm. These certainly performed as advertised, but how many effing games can you make that support plastic bongos? You’re kind of painting yourself into a corner.

Number of games that used it: Three in the US. Two of them were Donkey Konga (who wants a bongo-only version of “Send the Pain Below?”) and the third was Jungle Beat, recently released on Wii under the New Play Control banner. Piles of DK Bongos were available even recently for five bucks at GameStop, a great indicator of how little anyone ever cared.

Wrapping it up: How to fail online, both past and present


  • poothurdur32 - March 22, 2011 7:02 p.m.

    Uuuh... You're forgetting the Balance Board. It isn't nearly as responsive as people wanted it to be, with about 20 games released for it in America, with only 3 of them worth actually playing (It's Launch Games, WiiFit, Rabbids TV Party, and WiiFit Plus). The other 15-odd games are just Unresponsive Shovel Ware Crap, like Super Monkey Ball and Shaun White Snowboarding (well, OK, they're just crappy WITH the balance board. They're perfectly fine without it.)
  • wiigamer024 - November 24, 2010 7:03 p.m.

    lol i loved Hey You, Pikachu! when i was little. I even got the special edition Pikachu N64 that came with the game for Christmas back a good decade ago. :) i always thought that game was the shit. man, i miss that game so damn much... Another thing i though was awesome when it first came out was Wii Speak. haha i got it bundled with AC:CF also. sadly, i never used it. at all. lol its just collecting dust now :)
  • theintellectual - November 24, 2010 5:25 a.m.

    @doomdoomdoom: exactly. the only thing keeping Nintendo afloat is the spectacular Mario games it pumps out once or twice a generation. the rest is kiddy crap, or just plain retarded. its time to stop treating Nintendo like a legitimate contender in the games buissness.
  • AuthorityFigure - February 9, 2010 12:15 p.m.

    Well you can't blame Nintendo for not trying out ideas! If you wish to support their experiments and are left with plastic junk, I think you've helped the industry in some way anyhow. It's not a total loss.
  • NottaFanboY - September 8, 2009 10:48 p.m.

    Sorry to say in a number of years the whole lot of wii everything will be on this list...
  • linkganon - August 29, 2009 4 a.m.

    i remember using that n64 transfer pack, but i know why they forgot about it. the damned thing wouldn't stay in the controller! it kept falling out and sliding out of reach for the controller to read it. it was really frustrating, and was guaranteed to happen. on a side note, you may know rob now by playing ssbb. if you forgot the n64 transfer pack came with stadium. you could add the ones that were dropped, like the nintendo, ps port before nintendo declined the deal with sony, which in turn created nintendo's rival the playstation.
  • Thequestion 121 - July 17, 2009 2:13 a.m.

    Wow. I didn't know that Nintendo had so many failed products! And I have Wii Speak!!
  • thezombieofjustice - July 14, 2009 1:15 a.m.

    hahaha that transfer pack brings back some good memories lol and a gameboy printer didnt know they made one. lol learn something new everyday
  • Xeacons - July 12, 2009 3:21 p.m.

    Although, I wouldn't call Wii Speak a failure just yet. Not until the Wii's cycle is completely finished (which won't be for another couple years). Now that Conduit's using it, we can expect more High Voltage titles to carry it, and if Conduit really inspires 3rd parties to get on the Wii ball, WS might just prove a success in the end.
  • mastersword369 - July 11, 2009 9:13 p.m.

    Just add the Vitality Sensor already! We all know it's gonna fail!
  • dmaster225 - July 11, 2009 1:02 a.m.

    i had the transfer pack. i thought it was pretty fun since I was a 7 year old when that was out. I remember the feature in the Pokemon G&S games that it had a print option, and I, as a little ignorant 7 year old, was like crazy trying to look for a computer printer that I could connect my GBC link cable to. When I think back, I laugh at my ignorance.
  • Buga15 - July 10, 2009 7:37 p.m.

    DK Bongos were like guitars in guitar hero, but GH isn't as stupid and children stuff
  • Red - July 10, 2009 3:52 a.m.

    I had the gameboy camera when I was in middle school. Some girl swore up and down to the teachers that if I took a picture of her with it, that I could edit it so I could see her naked. They took the camera away from me despite the fact that I never took her picture.
  • richomak27 - July 9, 2009 8:41 p.m.

    awesome article Brett didn't know about a few of these
  • DoctorFruitbat - July 9, 2009 5:56 p.m.

    The crown of ultimate peripheral fail goes to Sega. Check out the Sega Mega-CD 32X for the only three-console balls-up ever attempted. At least they did a good online service with the Dreamcast, which a decade later Nintendo aren't even close to matching. Pretty sad.
  • Meoff118 - July 9, 2009 5:18 p.m.

    Surprised nobody said FIRST
  • SuperGoomba64 - July 9, 2009 4:52 p.m.

    I thought Mario Kart:Double Dash used the GCN online adapter, but no one used it D: I have the N64 Transfer Pak. It works about half the time, It only works for Pokemon Stadiuam.
  • sadisticgrizzz - July 9, 2009 3:35 p.m.

    i actually had that rob. but i traded a school buddy 4 contra like 3 days after i had it. lets just say we're not buddies anymore
  • Harmon20 - July 9, 2009 2:37 p.m.

    Gamecube, and ONLINE!? No way. It could never happen. AND it didn't.
  • shelcobsohn - July 9, 2009 12:18 p.m.

    the wii is stupid

Showing 1-20 of 81 comments

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