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Dead Peripherals Tell Depressing Tales

Super Action ControllerPopular and famous video game peripherals such as the NES Advantage or the Wavebird for the Nintendo GameCube have devoted followings in the gaming community, but for every successful add-on, there are plenty of similar products that were overcomplicated, barely working, pointless, or obsolete when they were new.  Topless Robot explores some of these dead and buried peripherals with a keen eye towards the "huh?" perspective.  You'll become acquainted with the Steel Batallion mech controller, the Commodore 64 cassette reader, the Colecovision Super Action Controller, and more.

Bigger is not necessarily better (something Microsoft discovered after it released the first Xbox controller). When the Colecovision was released, it was not particularly lauded for its controllers; Colecovision's answer to this was to make the biggest fucking controller possible. 1982's Super Action Controller was about as large as Andre the Giant's fist and packed four rainbow-colored trigger buttons, a 12-button keypad, a "speed control" wheel, and a big red-balled control stick. It also featured variously-sized pistol grips to ensure that people of all sizes could use the plastic boxing glove of Doom. It even boasted the ability to control more than one player at a time in certain compatible games.  Why did it fail/suck? Look at it... just look at it. In an era where videogames were considered kid's stuff, this controller was designed specifically for the 6'10", 325-pound sumo wrestler. And to make things worse, they were generally sold in pairs, so you got double the suck.

While I grew up with a Commodore 64, I never had the cassette reader.  This is not a criticism.  My third grade classroom had a C64 equipped with cassette capabilities and it was a complete pain to use.  By the time the game (er, pardon, education application) had loaded in full, it was time to turn off the computer and go back to doing school work.  Still, there was nothing worse in the C64 days than forgetting to append ",8" to the LOAD command and seeing the dreadful PRESS PLAY ON TAPE command in return.  Say what you will about the Microsoft Xbox 360 red-ringing or your Nintendo Wii gathering dust, but at least neither of those devices have ever asked you to deal with cassettes.