Rare and Obscure Video Game Peripherals
As long as there have been video games, there has been video game peripherals. Used to simulate, compliment, supplement, or straight up change the way we play a game, peripherals are one of the most hit or miss aspects of gaming culture. After the success of the Wii there were dozens upon dozens of totally useless peripherals to waste your money. While the onslaught of plastic is (hopefully) behind us, there are still game peripherals being released. While successes and failures are bound to happen across the board, the obscurity and rarity of some of these devices can fluctuate regardless of quality. Here are some of my favorite peripherals I’m still on the hunt for, as well as a few of the more obscure or bizarre entries into the gaming peripheral market.
Samba de Amigo Maracas
Sega Dreamcast – ~$50
Easily the number one peripheral I am still looking for to round out my Dreamcast collection are the Samba de Amigo maracas and motion sensor. Seeing as the game itself is a rhythm game where you shake maracas in beat to the music, having physical maracas to actually do these actions make the whole experience better. The Wii version of the game can emulate this much easier since each Wii Remote is a motion sensing device, but the game itself isn’t as well regarded as the Dreamcast original. Samba de Amigo uses the game, as well as the Japanese exclusive sequel, but no others. Worth noting, these have gone down in price as the years go on!
Steel Battalion Controller
Xbox – ~$125
Perhaps the most well known controller peripheral among collectors is the Steel Battalion controller. Required to play the Xbox exclusive games Steel Battalion and its sequel Steel Battalion: Line of Contact, the controller is designed to imitate the inside of a Vertical Tank, the machines operated in the games. While this is pretty damn cool in concept, the fact that it was required to play the game and it cost near $200 bundled with the game at retail, a lot of people skipped out on this one. Interestingly, Steel Battalion is considered to be a good game for those who could afford to play it when it first released. It’s hard to come by out in the wild, but online resellers have the game and controller for a relatively tame price considering the initial price for entry. If you’re an Xbox collector, this should be on your radar!
Elemental Gearbolt Assassin’s Case
PS1 – ~$2,500
One of the most sought after video game collectibles of all time, the Elemental Gearbolt Assassin’s Case isn’t entirely a peripheral, but I’m counting it here because of how ridiculous the item has become. Included in the whole Assassin’s Case are the PS1 shooter game, a gold plated GunCon, and a gold plated memory card, all official products. The case was awarded as a prize during the E3 convention in 1998, and only 40 are known to exist. The rarity of this one is through the roof, and owning one will literally make your PS1 collection of of the best in the world, even if you own no other games! Hell, just the gold GunCon itself would be a prize possession for most any collector!
DS – ~$35
Released exclusively in Japan but usable on any DS system, the paddle controller from Taito is a peripheral I just found out existed. Only compatible with four games (Arkanoid, which is was originally packaged with, Space Invaders Extreme, Space Invaders Extreme 2, and Space Bust-A-Move), the paddle controller emulated the control scheme used for the arcade version of these games. Though playable without the paddle controller, the games are often regarded as much better with the controller in use. These are the greatest peripherals in my mind: they enhance a gameplay experience without being so obtrusive you feel awkward using them. Go Taito for creating awesome stuff!
PS2 – ~$30
The trance vibrator is by one of the strangest and most unnecessary peripherals out there. Exclusively created for the music game Rez, the Trance Vibrator plugs into the PS2’s USB port and vibrates with the music. Released in Japan only, the Trance Vibrator was supposed to enhance the musical immersion of the game, but it has gained a larger following online as a makeshift adult toy. As with other games on this list, I applaud the developers for creating something unique for their game only, but unlike the DS paddle which makes the game better, I feel like the Trance Vibrator doesn’t offer a significant change to gameplay to qualify as a necessary addition. Bonus points for trying though!
Wu-Tang PS1 Controller
PS1 – ~$85
A special edition PlayStation controller, the Wu-Tang controller was made as an accompany piece to the PS1 fighting game Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style. I’ve never actually seen this controller, but I absolutely want it for my collection because of the ridiculousness of it. It’s a controller shaped like the symbol for the rap group which was packed with a martial arts fighting game starring said rap group. In a similar vein as the Steel Battalion controller, the Wu-Tang controller is a sought after PS1 collector’s piece, but not nearly as pricey.
Game Boy Camera & Printer
Game Boy – ~$30
If I remember correctly, there was fairly large advertising campaign behind these two Game Boy/Game Boy Color peripherals. The Game Boy Camera turned your handheld into a “portable” camera, allowing you to shoot photos and even play some minimalist games. It isn’t a hard piece to come by, but finding it complete might be an issue. A bit more difficult to come by is the Game Boy Printer. This addition allowed you to print out super-low resolution photos you’d taken with the camera. Nowadays it’s hard to find the correct paper for the printer, but if you can you can relive the pixelated glory days of the late 1990’s all over again!
Circle Pad Pro
Nintendo 3DS – ~$20
The Circle Pad Pro is an add-on device for the Nintendo 3DS (With a bigger 3DS XL version also on the market) which added a second circle pad to the right of the device, as well as two more Z buttons on the back of the handheld. It wasn’t required for any game but it was supported by a few, with Resident Evil: Revelations and Kid Icarus: Uprising being the two biggest. Interestingly, the Circle Pad Pro requires 3 AAA batteries to function, which kind of sucks: I thought we were past the age of batteries in handhelds. The newly released and poorly named New Nintendo 3DS XL essentially has the Circle Pad Pro built right in, with the C stick functioning as the second circle pad, and the ZL and ZR buttons already on the back of the device. Best of all, it’s backwards compatible with all Circle Pad Pro supported games, meaning you never even have to buy this monstrosity!
Super Nintendo – ~$40
The most remarkable thing about the Super Scope for the SNES is that it was the follow up light gun Nintendo released after the hugely successful and awesome to use Zapper from the NES (the gun you used to play Duck Hunt). The Super Scope is big, bulky, and will make you look ridiculous when using. It is a wireless device, which was pretty cool for the time, but it also requires 6 batteries and was only supported by a handful of games. The resale price is relatively low, with complete in box version going for around $50, and would make a nice show piece for any SNES collector.
Xbox 360 – ~$20
Okay, this admittedly this isn’t really that obscure or rare, but I found it quirky enough to include on this list. The Game Boat is designed, or as the box states “ideal for”, Kinect Adventures on Xbox 360. When the peripheral is a giant inflatable boat that literally is only used for one part of one singular game, I think you can say something more absolute than “ideal for”. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure the game experience is totally enhanced when playing with this thing! It must be like you’re really racing down the river, jumping to collect points and flailing around wildly trying not to fall off! Man, what it must be like to play with one of those.