News Article

Feature: The Wonder of Ugly Add-Ons

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Only their creators love them

For those who hadn’t noticed, we recently posted our 3DS Circle Pad Pro review, which unsurprisingly prompted a broad range of opinions and comments. While the reaction to the add-on has undoubtedly been diverse, most agree on one thing: it’s ugly. Or, to quote our review, it "makes the console look like it's fallen from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down". Ouch.

When thinking about unappealing add-ons for Nintendo handheld consoles, we realised that the Circle Pad Pro isn’t alone. There have been some monstrosities in the past, so we naturally decided to dig them up for everyone to look at. Brace yourselves — this won’t be pretty.

Booster Boy

If you thought adding an extra Circle Pad and some shoulder buttons was clumsy, how about a Game Boy with an analogue stick, screen magnifier and extra speakers? That was the grand ambition of the Booster Boy.

In practice, your Game Boy is housed inside this unit, which devours four C batteries at a time. The only visible part of your handheld is the screen, with the peripheral taking over all controls, though quite why a Game Boy title needs an analogue stick is beyond us. While extra loud speakers and a magnifier may be helpful to some, this add-on takes a portable console and morphs it into a lump of plastic the size of a 1980s telephone. Does it successfully make the Game Boy more of a home-console equivalent? Nope. Is it portable and for use on the bus? Most definitely not.

Add-ons for yuppies

We found these particular delights in an old gaming magazine, under the heading "New Gear for Yuppie Gamesters". We’ve never considered ourselves to be yuppie gamesters here at Nintendo Life, which may explain why none of us ever owned one of these.

Released by a company called Nuby and targeting ‘style-conscious Nintendo owners’, these two add-ons aren’t the worst to look at, but deserve to be highlighted for the crazy marketing. They may be slightly less horrendous than other peripherals, but they’re still lumps of plastic being clipped onto an innocent Game Boy. Nuby developed a number of accessories including screen lights and magnifiers, though we doubt that they were considered to be fashionable.

Game Boy Game Genie

Struggling gamers from the NES era are probably aware of Game Genie, a cartridge extension that gave access to a number of cheat codes to help you through the toughest games.

Well, there was also a Game Boy equivalent, offering the same dose of cheats and codes to conquer the greatest challenges. It wasn’t a particularly streamlined addition though, as it appears to be at least half the size of the handheld itself.

That said, it was an invaluable tool in the days when games were genuinely difficult. If you have any doubts about how ‘rad’ Game Genie was, check out the original trailer for the NES version below.

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Super Wide Gear

It may seem like we’re picking on Nintendo’s handhelds for having ugly, unnecessary add-ons, so for some balance we’ve uncovered a monstrosity released for the Sega Game Gear. This was a handheld that boasted powerful graphics and a colour display, technically superior to the Game Boy.

While it may have lost that handheld war, it did nevertheless join in with the trend for needless accessories. We present the Super Wide Gear, a poorly-named screen magnifier that also seems to take up too much room for its own good. In a pretty massive oversight, it doesn't even seem to have been designed to fit properly with the Game Gear. Let's overlook the fact that Sega's handheld also had a bigger screen than the Game Boy, so it didn't really need to be magnified in the first place.

So there you have it, a range of unattractive add-ons to remind us all that the Circle Pad Pro isn’t the worst that has hit the market. As long as there are handheld gaming consoles there’ll be lumps of useless plastic ready to be clipped on for use. As our final example, these GBA speakers show how an add-on can transform a handheld into a loving homage to famous icons. Dumbo, anyone?

What are your memories of atrocious accessories and add-ons? Have you owned any peripherals that you'd rather forget? Reveal all in the comments below.

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User Comments (74)



KingMike said:

I actually can remember seeing a kid using a GB Booster on the bus once. You'd never forget something that ugly.



Neram said:

Okay, okay... Now the Circle Pad Pro isn't THAT ugly to even be included with these 90's abominations. Function over fashion, I say.



Kyloctopus said:

Why do people think the circle pad pro looks ugly? It doesn't look near as ugly as the other things. The original DS looks ugly. This just looks a little wide.



jackjt8 said:

The CPP isn't really all that bad.
yes, it's a bit bulky, but that just makes the 3ds more comfortable to hold.
Because of this and the fact of there is a second CP and 2 shoulder buttons, I dont mind the "ugly" bit that sticks out. i dont find it that bad.

So, if you dont like the CPP, you dont like it, its your opinion. No one is forcing you to buy it.



armoredghor said:

lol all the captions were hilarious. I don't think you can make a portable add-on look pretty, especially if it's supposed to be a clamshell design.



Tasuki said:

@TheDarkness: I think that was just a picture that was added to simulate a picture. I dont remember a tv tuner for the GBA. THe only handheld I remember having a tv tuner was the Game Gear.



AVahne said:

Those things are pretty damn ugly, but wow, I never knew that Nintendo had an analog stick for GB way back then.
On another note, I still think the CPP looks pretty good, even better looking when compared to these things.



Mk_II said:

Hey! dont knock the Booster Boy, ive got two of those monsters. Come to think of it, ive got all the junk featured in this article. I really should get a life



Azikira said:

My Gameboy Color had a twisty light that I needed to play at night but was always in the way and it KILLED battery life



Sockymon said:

Ah, these bring back memories... Nothing will bring me round to the Circle Pad Pro though, I just don't want to carry that hulking lump of plastic round with me.



HipsterDashie said:

I was walkin' through the city streets,
And a man walks up to me and hands me the latest game enhancer.
"Run faster, jump higher!"
Man, I'm not gonna let you poison my games!
I threw it on the ground!

That's all the game genie add reminded me of.



Sam_Loser2 said:

My problem with the circle pad is that it looks so asymmetrical with the pad sticking out there. And out of all add-ons that were mentioned, it's the only one that has a good chance of becoming required. THAT's what's annoying to me. I didn't need the other ugly lumps of plastic, but I may be forced into getting the circle pad.



ShellyDeKiller said:

My GBA had a TV Tuner, which let me watch up to four terrestrial channels in squinty-vision. However, I was able to hook my Gamecube to it, thus giving birth to a weird curiosity for eons to come. Haven't tried it on my PS3 yet though, which I bet would be freaky....



SLiM said:

The transfer pack for the N64 was pretty goofy. The most annoying part was that if you barely shook it, it lost connection. Would have been much better if you could have attached it to the N64 itself.



TingLz said:

Most can also agree that they don't like it until they tried it



Burn said:

No GBA e-Reader? I still have a bunch of those cards floating around my room. I honestly thought that thing was the future, I even preordered it o_o



Noire said:

Dear god that Booster Boy add-on is tremendous in its ugliness. It's so ugly it's almost cute.

... Almost. buys one so that she can stomp it in



SomeBitTripFan said:

I can't believe those GBA screen lights aren't on the list. I was UGLY. I used it with my GBA at night. It was a book light for games and burned batteries fast. The CCP should have added to battery life.



KAI7321 said:

I have the "Super Wide Gear", a "slim" version of the "Booster Boy"...and a few others I can't remember...maybe one or two for the SNES (Which weren't useless, they could let you play your Gameboy games on the SNES and in colour too!)



C-Olimar said:

Muhahahahhaa! Just you guys wait 'til the attachment that adds a third, multi-touch screen to the 3DS!



chiwii said:

The GBA screen lights were ugly, but they were necessary. Why did Nintendo put such a dim, useless screen in the GBA?



kyuubikid213 said:

I never hated the look of the CPP. It is an add on. If it were the actual system, then I would spout some complaints.



Mok said:

Haha, I still remember the Game Genie and the Booster Boy. Those were the days indeed. I didn't have money or interest in them but I still remember a friend boasting about the BB.



TKOWL said:

Oh god I think I still have a GBC screen lighter.

But as kids we didn't care, we HAD to play Super Mario Bros. Deluxe day and night, not even the flow of time could stop us!



WarioPower said:

Call me a freak, but I actually don't think that the ccp is ugly. I happen to think that the wiimote/nunchuck setup is more ugly if anything



TimboBaggins said:

I had a screen magnifyer for the game boy that also had lights so you can play in the dark. It was powered on 2 AA's and folded into a small rectangle that fit perfect in my gameboy case. It was perfect for what I needed, totally portable, and clipped on snugly using the large screw holes on the back of the game boy. Some periphials make up for the shortcomings of a system. The GB booster however is ugly and completely unnecessary.



Dodger said:

Mom has told me before about her friend/relative/I forget who had a gameboy with all the different add-ons and how it wound up being about the size of a brick. Maybe it was the booster boy. I don't know but I'm happy spending my time with gameboy games on my 3DS.



Zero123 said:

i really think that the CCP isnt that ugly i never have gotten why everyone thinks that but then i saw these abominations and thought the CCP is almost godly



Cloud-San-VII said:

I think the CCP is fine. It's just probably going to be really annoying to use. And I would buy all these add-ons (and some others not listed) just to say I have it.



TeeJay said:

I had a peripheral for my Game Boy Advance some years ago. It was a magifying glass like the Game Gear one, but with lights on either side. The only thing it did was create massive glare. XD



chiwii said:

@3Dangerous3Dash - they could have just not used a screen at all, just a piece of plastic where the screen would go. It would have cost almost nothing, it wouldn't have used the battery at all, and it would have been just as useful as the screen that they did use!



Bankai said:

I actually had the Booster Boy. Funnily enough, I did use it a lot at home, though it was useless for portable gaming.



Mok said:

@Ashflow: However, don't confuse it with CCCP which is something more sinister and completely different.



StarDust4Ever said:

I had clip-on jumbo buttons and a lighted screen magnifier for my Game Boy Color, but the buttons actually made the games less responsive, and the screen looked blurry under the cheap plastic lens of the magnifier, so I ditched both of those accessories and got a cheap little worm light for playing in the dark.

@Mok: Were you referring to the "Central Committee of the Communist Party" or the rather benign "Combined Community Codec Pack" ?



Drawdler said:

Why does everyone think the CPP is ugly? Huge, sure, but ugly?
Also, that Game Genie commercial was win.



StarDust4Ever said:

Nearly every one of those featured accessories exhibits some form of symmetrical design. Not so Control Pad Pro! Just please, somebody get a knife and cut that monstrosity off!



antster1983 said:

All we need now is an Angry Video Game Nerd review of Game Boy and Game Gear accessories and the circle of life will be complete...



SilentHunter382 said:

Ok, all of those look ugly.

I also had an analog stick for the GBA sp which had handle grips on it too. While it may not be that ugly but you had to remove the thing every time you wanted to close the SP.

Here is the add on: Link



JimLad said:

It was acceptable in the 90s...
Seriously, the more buttons, more lights, more wacky add-ons you had on your handheld/stereo stack/vcr, the richer you looked back then.
Loving that Booster Boy, it's like an Iron Maiden for your Game Boy.



alLabouTandroiD said:

I'd say it was the right decision for Saitek to concentrate on PC peripherals later.
The Game Genie trailer reminds me of the comic artist in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and the videogame dream in the 6th film.
As someone who likes its handheld sound with a bit more bass i like the idea of the GBA speakers. I guess they only make it louder and more distorted though.

Personally i only had a magnifying glass that also lit the GB. Didn't use it very often because of what @StarDust(57.) mentioned. I only found out that the the problem was called bluriness and not size when i got my Game Boy color.



Ikalpo said:

I still have one of those "GlowGuard"s on my old GBA. Still works, but it doesen't help playing Mario Kart when you have to put 5-billion pounds of pressure to make Left or Down work.



Azooooz said:

If you haven't noticed yet, the Circle Pad Pro has the same additional buttons as Wii U controller.

In other words, You may need it in case there will be a "remote play" possiblity for Wii U.



Morpheel said:

I had GBC a combo pack that included add on speakers (to be conected under the console) which made the GBC taller, a controller clip-on (transformed the D-Pad into an analog stick and the buttons transfomed into taller, springy ones, gosh I loved this one so much I broke the analog stick) and a huge light-up magnifiying glass.

It was a lot like that Booster Boy, but each add-on was independent and could be used alone. The poor GBC looked huge and overly hi-tech when all of them were on at the same time



bauckster said:

GREAT FEATURE, guys! Truly entertaining. I don't even own a handheld, but I got a lot of chuckles from this article. The craziest has got to be the Booster Boy.



KingMike said:

I know I've seen a TV Tuner for the GBA, but it was unlicensed and I can feel pretty confident it only worked on the original GBA (it was a screen that clipped over the top of the system and into the cart slot).
What I think is the most ridiculous Game Boy related add-on: someone actually bothered to make an adapter to fit the Game Genie into the Super Game Boy. (made in the console's lifetime but I don't think it was ever advertised so it's no wonder nobody's heard of it )



StarDust4Ever said:

@King Mike: I wonder if you could use the SNES Game Genie to modify the GB rom code in the Super Game Boy? You'd just simply need to use an address translator and determine the offset for the GB rom data.

EDIT: Can that idea, since the SNES Game Genie wasn't compatible with carts that used expansion pins.



Kisame83 said:

I want the Circle Pad Pro because it is removable. I was thinking of holding off on a redesign, then I realized that centering the unit with two analogue sticks would require an XL-sized unit. Which really cuts down on the portability. There's a reason why my gaming unit of choice is this and not the upcoming Vita lol

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