Con-soul Searching: Nintendon’t Support Their Peripherals
Admit it, you have a Wii Wheel or a Wii Zapper in your home. It is okay, you are not alone. I have both of them. I even have the Wii Speak microphone. Why? Like other Nintendo fans, I am a sucker for a new piece of plastic with the Nintendo logo on it. Truthfully, I don’t mind all the peripherals cluttering up my controller closet. What really eats my lunch is that Nintendo doesn’t show enough support to all these new controllers we buy. This topic came up in our last podcast and Tony nearly had to use his cattle prod to get me back on topic. But now I am unrestrained and ready to rant. Just try to stop me, Tony!
I have spent a lot of time today reading the internet (Wikipedia mostly) researching the different Nintendo produced peripherals and the games Nintendo has developed or published to support them. I am sorry to say that even I was shocked at my findings. Keep in mind, I am only talking about the products and support from Nintendo. This could be development or just publishing responsibility. I’m not counting support from third parties like Konami or Capcom.
Let’s look at the NES first. When you think of the NES, no doubt the Zapper comes to mind. Why wouldn’t it? The Zapper is awesome. I remember wishing that I was the guy in Captain N: The Game Master so I could use my Zapper to shoot more than ducks and that annoying dog. I was surprised to find that only sixteen games supported the Zapper with Nintendo being responsible for six. That doesn’t seem too bad but considering that the NES has a library of nearly eight hundred games, it is actually quite low. Also in eight hundred games, Nintendo only made two that worked with R.O.B. the robot. How did R.O.B. ever become such a cherished character when he only worked with two games? He has been in more than two games as a cameo?
I was planning to talk about the Power Glove and the Power Pad but I learned that Nintendo didn’t produce or distribute either of them. The Power Pad was a child of Bandai, who also developed ten games to support it by the way. Nintendo had nothing to do with the development or distribution of the Power Glove either, even though it carried an official Nintendo license. That is weird to me. The Power Glove was in The Wizard, which was basically an hour and a half commercial for Nintendo. What gives?
The Super Nintendo had just as many games as the NES but it was not showered with as many obscure peripherals. Nintendo only ever produced the Super Scope and the SNES Mouse to complement its 16-bit system. The Super Scope is supported by five games. This is similar to Nintendo’s support of the Zapper. The real disappointment is with the SNES Mouse. Nintendo designed it for Mario Paint but only one other game with SNES Mouse support would see a North American release. Japan would get three other games that used the mouse. Sadly, most of the games to support the SNES Mouse would never make it out of Japan. Although it is more of an adapter than peripheral, the Super Game Boy is a nice extra plastic piece for the Super Nintendo. It works with all Game Boy games and even changes the shades of grey to some various colors.
The Rumble Pak for the Nintendo 64 is a controller add-on that was met with a good amount of support by Nintendo. It was released with Star Fox 64 a year after the system launched. Soon after its release, it became a standard for N64 games. Nintendo even went to the trouble to re-release a few games with added Rumble Pak support. This is all well and good but I don’t consider the Rumble Pak a peripheral in the same way as I do the Zapper and Super Scope. What does fall on that list is the VRU (Voice Recognition Unit) for the Nintendo 64. Hey You, Pikachu! is the only game that even came to North America with support for the device. There were only ever two games that worked with it in Japan. Why did they even make the darn thing in the first place? The scary thing is, the device could have been huge. Imagine a game where you yell attack commands to your Pokémon. Kids across the globe would have begged their parents nonstop for that.
Remember those DK Bongos? I do. I see them in my closet every week. Too bad Nintendo only made three games in North America that used them. There were almost four but Nintendo dropped bongo support in the Wii game Donkey Kong Barrel Blast. Nintendo even halted the developer Bplus from adding bongo support into their WiiWare game Plättchen Twist ‘n’ Paint. Come on, Nintendo. Now you’re just being ridicules. The GameCube Microphone is another peripheral that withered and died once it was sent into the world. Mario Party 6 and Mario Party 7 used the mic in specific minigames but only around six between the two releases. I have to give Nintendo credit on this one as they did publish Odama which was developed by Vivarium Inc., a studio known for its voice recognition abilities. However, Odama was also showcased at E3 for its use of the DK Bongos. That support was dropped before release. Grumble grumble. Oh, the dance pad that came with Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, it was never supported by any other Nintendo game. Oddly enough it does work with the Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party games on Wii.
Do you want to know which peripheral Nintendo has supported the most? Brace yourself for this one. It is the Game Boy Printer for the original Game Boy. With twelve games, the Game Boy Printer received more support than the Super Scope and the Zapper combined. That’s without counting the Game Boy Camera. I just died a little bit inside. By the way, the Rumble Pak for the DS is supported by twelve Nintendo games in the U.S. and fifteen in Japan. Again, it is rumble device not a unique controller, but it is still worth noting.
So here we are. We have our Wii Balance Boards and our Wii Speak microphones that are supported by five games and one game, respectively. I hear of a lot of games that are supposed to support Wii Motion Plus but so far Nintendo has only released Wii Sports Resort. Wii Motion Plus is supposed to make the Wii what we all hoped it would be when the control scheme was first revealed. Nintendo tells us that more games are to come but looking back at their track record, I will remain skeptical. I haven’t even bought Wii Sports Resort yet. Don’t misunderstand me, I like the game and the device works quite well but I have the feeling that Wii Motion Plus will never achieve what we expect it to. I can’t even count the Wii Zapper and Wii Wheel as peripherals can I? They are just plastic shells. Don’t even get me started on the Wii Vitality Sensor. Wii Relax? Is it just me or does that sound like the furthest thing from a video game you can imagine?
I want to tell Nintendo not to make these devices if they are not going to support them, but then I wouldn’t be able to scream at Pikachu while making DK run to the beat of my bongos. I just look back at these peripherals and see so many missed opportunities. Perhaps I should just be happy with the experiences that Nintendo has delivered with these devices and stop dreaming about what could have been. What do I expect after all, a revolution?