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.
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.
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.