Following on from the discussion about The Best Controllers of All Time we also wanted to take a look into the best peripherals. It got us scratching our heads, there have been some really quite unique ones over the years. There’s a number of winners that instantly spring to mind and more than a few worth talking, let’s dig in.
The Dreamcast fishing rod was fun although only really useful with 2 games – Sega Bass Fishing and the other being Soul Calibur which was just fucking mental. I loved the Saturn steering wheel, easily the best wheel I’ve used and I used to have a great time playing games like Sega Rally and Daytona. You also have the Samba Di Amigo maracas which are well worth a mention as they were a lot of fun to use, even if you tended to look like a dick using them.
The Rock Band instruments were phenomenal, many a night has been spent playing with a group of friends using all the instruments and someone singing along. I tended to play bass as I’m shit at rhythm games and the bass tended to be a lot more forgiving than the other instruments. Then there’s the GameBoy player, which allowed you to play GameBoy and GameBoy advance games on the TV through the GameCube, for the longest time this has been the only way to play a proper Pokemon game on a TV.
My number one though is the VMU for the Dreamcast, essentially a memory card with an LCD screen that allowed certain games to download files that you could then play on the go. Sonic Adventure let you upload a Chao to raise like a Tamagotchi and then load back into the main game in order to race it, and Skies of Arcadia had a treasure hunt type game which let you upload gold back into the main game. I used to fuck around with these mini-games on the bus to work and it was a pretty awesome thing for Sega to come up with and always makes me sad they’re not making consoles anymore.
Peripherals for consoles, a way for games companies to fill their wallets and our homes with useless plastic tat. The faddiest pile of overpriced trash, with a shelf life of six months at best. And we are all suckers who probably have a loft or garage full of various items of landfill, collecting dust under a pile of Christmas decorations.
Having said that, there have been some stand out peripherals, which whilst they haven’t stood the test of time they bring back great memories of gaming.
My favourite peripheral of all time is an easy one. Sadly I no longer own the device and due to its exclusivity at the time it breaks my heart that I got rid of it. The Samba De Amigo maracas, yes I looked like a first-class bellend stood in my lounge shaking out a beat to Samba De Janeiro, but my lord was it fun, and in my head, I was a samba king.
Nintendo, please bring it to the Switch.
Over the years I have used many different types of gaming peripherals all of which offer the next level in gaming innovation or immersion. Ultimately almost every one of these turns out to be a short-lived fad being sold on for a fraction of its original cost and as a worst-case scenario taken to the local tip. I’m going to be splitting my suggestions into a couple of categories, so let’s do this!
My favourite of all time would have to be the original Samba De Amigo maracas on Dreamcast. It was an instant pick up for me on release, I really enjoyed the who premise of the game and the specially designed maracas peripherals really worked. Yes, the game got a re-release on the Wii but it just didn’t have the same charm using a couple of Wii-motes, even with the crappy plastic maracas add-on they released.
I want to pay special note to the toys-to-life genre. Although I didn’t personally get on board with Skylanders the concept always intrigued me. Then when Disney Infinity, and later Lego Dimensions, made their way onto the stage I was eventually sold. The ability to purchase a physical toy, ram it onto a magical platform and have it appear in-game was a genius move. The whole magic worked by simply placing an NFC chip inside the toy and using a reader connected to a console as a base plate. Not only did we now need to purchase the game but we also had to purchase additional characters and levels in the form of DLC – albeit you got something to hold in your hand. It’s sad to see the demise of the toys-to-life movement but I still hold high hopes for Starlink to keep it limping on for just a bit longer. Nintendo has done well on this front with the Amiibo range which tends to link across the whole Nintendo spectrum opposed to one specific game.
My first gaming peripheral was really two I guess, heading back to my first console the NES. I managed to get mine complete with the Zapper light gun and R.O.B the Robot. I really wanted R.O.B to work well but I always struggled with the setup. I usually got frustrated and ended up just using it as a toy, pretending he was my very own Johnny 5 – I was young ok!
There you have it, the best peripherals of all time. We’d love to hear what you think in the comment section below, on Twitter and our Facebook page!