Every once in a while, you will think about video games and then ask yourself a question that has no rhyme or reason, but that just happened to pop in your head at that exact moment. In some rare instances, not even Google or Wikipedia can provide the answer you need. Sometimes you wouldn’t even need an answer to that question.
This is where we come in.
Our panel of experts is here to take on all of your video games-related questions, no matter how serious or silly they may be. With each new edition, we will submit a question to this elite committee, which will in turn try to provide you, our beloved readers, with the most accurate answer they can come up with.
Do you have a question for us? Shoot us an e-mail at kapoutman AT hotmail.com with the subject line “Ask the Kliq”, or leave a comment below. The best questions will be featured in an upcoming column.
This Week’s Question
This week, we go back in time to ponder on our lost friends, those who didn’t have the same luck as their comrades and ended up forgotten in a dump instead of cherished and cared for in our living rooms. There are far more failures than successes in the business of video games, but it doesn’t mean that every failure deserved that faith. This is why we ask our staffers:
Which failed peripheral/console/add-on do you think was the best? Not the best IDEA, but the best ACTUAL product that you liked and wished had caught on better than it did? (Bonus points to anyone who can come up with something that isn’t the Dreamcast or any variety of the Neo-Geo Pocket.)
Ian Gorrie: By far, the greatest failed peripheral would have to be the Trance Vibrator from Rez.
Yeah. The vibrating rumble packs are special and all, but really the peak of human accomplishment has to be the vibrating clit distraction of Rez that distracts you from passing a level.
That some channel on cable does not exist of aroused women playing Rez 24 hours a day is a tragedy of human civilization.
Ok. Not really.
What I meant to say was the NES Nintendo Advantage was the best thing ever. No one has a home arcade stick anymore unless they’ve build their own arcade box. The thing even had a switch that hammered start for you to slow the game you were playing. It had a toggle that turned on rapid fire so that you didn’t have to hit a button 99999999999 times in a shooter game.
Clearly, innovation has been in a downward spiral since.
Alex Lucard: My choice is an odd one, but hear me out.
I’m going with Sega Netlink. For the unaware, way back in the year of 1995, the Saturn debuted the ability to play games over this thing called the Internet. It let you play with up to six friends even though five of them could be somewhere else in the world and you were just sitting in front of your screen wearing only a smile and a codpiece. Sega was a generation and a half ahead of every other hardware maker out there, including Sony. It’s just there were several problems.
1. Sega Netlink’s MSRP was $199.00. Now when I got mine it was only $50, but still, that’s an extra fee added to a system that was already $100 more expensive then this new fangled Playstation that came out from Sony instead of Nintendo.
2. Gamers thought the idea of online multiplayer gaming was stupid. Yes, they did. Go read old magazines or remember what people were saying on the old BBS. It was just too new and too outside the norm for the average gamer to get behind.
3. Developers thought it was a stupid idea as well. Why would anyone want to play a game online with their friends? As such, only five Saturn games were made that used the Netlink.
Daytona USA CCE NetLink Edition
Duke Nukem 3D
Imagine how different the face of gaming would be today if gamers had been ready for online multiplayer gaming nearly a decade before it really truly caught on. The Dreamcast tried, but again, it was a few years ahead of the curve. It wasn’t until about 2004-2005 when the concept really started to take hold, but if it had back in the mid 1990’s, the entire landscape of gaming as we now know it would be different. Would Sega would still be around instead of being owned by Sammy? Would Microsoft’s big pull have been neutralized? Would the N64 and the PSX have been able to compete?
Sega Netlink just shows that sometimes even a great idea can be a failure, simply because people aren’t ready to embrace it.
For those of you that still own a Netlink and any of those five games I mentioned above, you can still play them online. The NetLink modem uses direct-call abilities to connect two NetLinks together! For those of you like me who still have their Saturn plugged in to the TV and own a Netlink, I suggest http://www.saturnleague.com/mxbb. It’s a small site for those of us with Netlinks who still set up play sessions. I generally prefer Bomberman Online and Sega Rally, but if you’re up for it, I’m willing to play any of the five games!
Ashe Collins: The Nintendo Power Pad!
There was nothing quite like playing World Class Track Meet on an almost unresponsive floor mat that got you frustrated enough to want to destroy your NES. In all honesty I have no idea who got this one for me when I was younger, but I’d love to smack them for it.
In all seriousness, there are a number of peripherals for the PSP I wish had either caught on or at least made a bigger impact to get them over to US shores. I don’t care so much about the camera, but the GPS would have been a fantastic addition. I still have yet to be able to use that particular function in Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops because I refuse to pay import prices on something that was originally supposed to be a mass release for the handheld. So no, Japan gets it but it never sees the light of official day anywhere else.
Map programs and games that used the GPS could have been pretty cool as well. I’ve taken that little handheld on MANY road trips and being able to pop in a map UMD or even using a program on the memory stick to hook into the GPS attachment would have been fantastic on that last trip we went on which was an Alaskan cruise, and yes I had my PSP with me.
Maybe I want my PSP to do too many different things. I’m spoiled by how much it already does and I want more! The last news of it hitting the shores was back in January and February of 2008 and I’ve yet to see it in English anywhere.
Michael O’Reilly: The Wii Remote.
No seriously. The thing had promise. It could have revolutionized the industry. Instead it got bundled with an underpowered next-gen console and as a result the industry said whatever. Meanwhile, the Wii goes on to sell billions and confirm yet again that Nintendo knows how to sell shit. Now imagine what would have happened if they had put the same amount of effort into the Wii’s hardware as they did the Wii Remote.
Bryan Berg: The best idea for a peripheral would have to be the Activator for Sega Genesis. Obviously, it wasn’t executed very well. But it was a very early precursor to the motion-sensored world of the Wii that everybody loves. A more recent example of this technology that was pretty awesome, but failed miserable, was the Play TV series of games. While it was never meant to be a video game or a console or anything, the Play TV series consisted of sports like baseball, golf, and tennis. The idea was that you’d swing the bat or golf club and the TV would pick up on your motion and react accordingly. It was pretty crude, but seeing how the Wii totally took off, it’s a bit surprising nobody took the Play TV games seriously. I had the baseball one and completely loved it. I still can’t believe more gamers didn’t feel the same way.
A.J. Hess: Maybe it isn’t all that failed, but I’ve got to go with the Super Scope. Now known more as a weapon you can pick up in the Smash Bros. games, this thing made the previous generations Zapper look like two-shot Derringer. Nintendo went whole hog with this thing, turning the concept of light-gun into light-cannon. I mean really-they went from the handheld “laser-pistol thingy” of the Zapper into the two and a half feet long bazooka. Sadly, the lack of more than a handful of games that anyone wanted to play held this thing back. Of course, Sega released the Menacer right around that time as well, so really it was an arms race to see who could offer up the most ridiculous light gun that killed the market for overpriced, oversized weapons. I’d love to see the return of a massive light gun like these in today’s market. I can see it now – Sony offering up a mid-sized SUV with a Turret for the gun-but it’s also a Blu-Ray projector, so there’s good value there. And Microsoft could have a tasteful sniper rifle – with the eyesight actually a RROD. Good times.
Adam Powell: F— yeah! I was super into the Super Scope back in middle school. The light-bazooka was an awesome idea – me and my buddy used to play that block-shooting game for hours, and then I never saw another game for it – had it had a few more games, I would have held on to the thing!
Aaron Sirois: Say what you will, but I enjoy the EyeToy. Sure, I still don’t really use it. But those few games that actually use it are all kinds of fun when you’re bored. I even have Kinetic, the workout game, which was a blast to play with group of people. The only problem was that you needed a huge amount of space in order for the camera to work.
I wish more games would use this kind of technology. Being a part of the game is something that should be explored.
Matt Yaeger: The PS2 EyeToy
At one point during SCEE’s history there was a push for peripherals that were aimed at a more casual gaming audience. That initiative is what caused the SCEE to develop and heavily push the EyeToy, the Buzz games and Singstar.
Camera peripherals and video games were not something that was unique to the PS2 since the Dreamcast and GBA platforms both had camera add-ons. It was the way the EyeToy was originally released with a set of mini-games. Think about it, here was a peripheral that had mini-games which were activated by motion and caused the player to look ridiculous. Sound familiar? The EyeToy was never really pushed in the US very hard by Sony Computer Entertainment of America, and I believe it was a missed opportunity for Sony to really get into the motion sensing craze before the Nintendo Wii. At least I know that it was fun at parties to see how many ninjas you could karate chop off of the screen.
However with little advertising support and very little software support the Playstation EyeToy became an unnecessary peripheral. With a couple mini-game collections and a fitness game (again, sound familiar?) it didn’t have the support it needed to really try to capture a broader audience. It’s hard to get casual players into a peripheral when they don’t know it exists.
To this day the potential of both the newest version of the PS3 EyeToy and the Xbox Live Camera are being squandered with only a few games that support it.
Guy Desmarais: Mine would be the Virtual Boy. Not because it was that great of an idea or because the games were good. Simply because I never played a Virtual Boy game before and I want to know what it’s like to look at the world in red and black without having to spend over 200 dollars to do so. As you may know, trying to acquire a Virtual Boy is not as easy as it used to be, so I need to make friends with someone who already possesses one. Such a thing seems to be pretty hard these days, as I don’t even know how to bring it up in a casual conversation.
So, anybody has a Virtual Boy to spare for cheap?
Mohamed Al-Saadoon: I know I’m going to be ridiculed for this but I really liked R.O.B. There, I said it.
I mean, he’s your own personal robot that you control through your videogame console! How awesome is that? It’s like my dream come true. If he hadn’t died back in the days of the NES we might have robot butlers coming with every Wii.
Shame on Nintendo for not releasing more games for R.O.B., therefore ensuring his demise since Gyromite and Stack Up were no match for Zelda, Mario, Metroid, etc.
Mark B.: I think the peripheral I loved the most out of all of the stupid things I’ve owned (and that would be a lot) would be the Sega 3D glasses. For those who missed out on these things, this is going to take a bit of explaining, so here you go:
The old Sega Master System had two game insertion slots. One was meant to accept the now-standard cartridges that existed during the 8-and-16-bit console cycles, while the other accepted “cards”, which were essentially plastic cards with contacts on the bottom (the TurboGraphx 16 used something similar, for those who remember that). Unfortunately, the card format failed to take off in any significant way (and to be completely honest, I’m not even certain what the point of this slot even was), and only a scant few games came out that used the slot. Sega, having added this slot to the console anyway, decided to make a peripheral that would work with it, and released “The Sega 3D Glasses”, as the box helpfully described them.
The games that worked with the glasses weren’t anything special; aside from a couple of shooters (Blade Eagle and Zaxxon), a couple of Sega licenses (Space Harrier and Outrun), and a light-gun game (Missile Defense), nothing compatible came out that was particularly exciting. That isn’t the point, though; despite the fragility of the glasses, the fact that you had to sit rather close to the system and the lacking support for the product, playing games in legit 3D was absolutely badass, and in retrospect, the headaches I had afterward were TOTALLY worth it.
Scoff if you may, but Space Harrier 3D was absolutely intense and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it, so I think the product served its purpose.
So it looks like the EyeToy and the Super Scope have the most fans within Diehard GameFAN. The Super Scope was a clear second place for me as I also loved every minute spent with the peripheral. The only downside with it was the huge batteries consumption. Not only was it eating batteries at an alarming rate, but it wasn’t content with the normal AA size. It had to feast on D batteries, meaning that weekly usage of the thing was an investment in itself.
Do you have a question of your own which you want our experts to answer? Send an e-mail to kapoutman AT hotmail.com with the subject line “Ask the Kliq”, or leave a comment below. We’ll put our team right on it.