Top Ten: Greatest Nintendo Peripherals

A look back at some of the greatest add-ons and peripherals to ever grace Nintendo systems.

By Kyle England. Posted 08/27/2013 10:00 3 Comments     ShareThis

1. WaveBird Wireless Controller – GameCube – 2002

Besides rumble, there’s another feature of modern controllers that we have taken for granted– the fact that they’re wireless. Not such a short time ago, game controllers were still tethered to a box via cords that stretched across the room. Sure, many third parties had developed wireless controllers in the past, but they were mostly unreliable or of shoddy quality. In 2002, Nintendo released a first party controller that would cut the cord forever: the WaveBird for GameCube.

In the past, wireless controllers mostly used infrared technology, similar to a television remote. These sensors were limited in range and required a user to constantly maintain a direct line of sight with the receiver on the console– making them unresponsive and restrictive. However, by the time the GameCube was released, radio frequency (RF) technology had become inexpensive enough to seamlessly implement it into a gaming controller, which is exactly what Nintendo did with the creation of the WaveBird. The controller uses RF channels to send inputs to the console, which means the range is incredible and no direct line of sight is required.

The GameCube controller by itself is still one of the best controllers Nintendo has ever made. It fits perfectly to the hand, and the unique design makes all the buttons very accessible. The WaveBird preserved this design and added wireless functionality. Sadly, the rumble feature had to be dropped, but wireless gameplay more than makes up for it. The range on the WaveBird is awesome, and in some conditions it can go up to 70 feet or more. Nintendo also had the foresight to allow the controller to use up to 16 different radio channels to sync up with consoles. You just turn the dial and you’re good to go. That’s something even modern consoles can’t claim, because you have to synchronize all your wireless remotes beforehand.

Once again, Nintendo set the standard for controllers. After GameCube, all future consoles would have wireless first party controllers right out of the box. WaveBird even remained useful past the lifespan of GameCube with several Wii games, and its wireless nature made it perfectly complement Wii (The release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl actually made the demand for WaveBird skyrocket back in 2008). The GameCube controller was already amazing, but WaveBird truly made it shine. Thus– due to its usefulness, its lasting value, and its impact on gaming– I deem the WaveBird controller for GameCube to be the greatest Nintendo peripheral.

Some other interesting peripherals worth mentioning

  • The Game Genie & GameShark
  • GameCube Bongo Controller
  • SNES Super Scope
  • GameCube Microphone
  • Nintendo DS Guitar Hero add-on
  • Wii Wheel

So, that does it for some of the best doodads, add-ons, and other physical devices to ever come to Nintendo systems. Were some of your favorites featured? Do you still link up with your buddies with a Game Link Cable? As always, let us know in those comments, below. Stay fit, everyone!

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3 Responses to “Top Ten: Greatest Nintendo Peripherals”

  • 1558 points
    penduin says...

    Technical nitpick: The NES Zapper doesn’t need a curved CRT, just a sufficiently bright and fast (fast being the sticking point with modern TVs) display. Pull the trigger and the screen goes black, with a bright box covering one “hit” zone, for one 60th of a second per on-screen target. Some games let you aim at a light bulb and win, if it wasn’t checking for dark during the surrounding frames.

    The Super Scope was even crazier; its hit or miss mechanism was actually based on the timing of when individual pixels were being lit on the screen within that 1/60th of a second timeslice. (Notice how no Super Scope game ever used very dark colors?)

    We might someday build a plasma or LCD bright and fast enough to work with the Zapper, but the Super Scope has almost no chance. :^)

  • 702 points
    Matthew Tidman says...

    I’m kind of sad that the power pad for NES didn’t make the list even as an honorable mention. I remember hours spent playing World Class Track Meet with that thing and trying to figure out how long I could jump off the mat before jumping back on to get insane scores. Of course, it always ended up being me and my sister kneeling next to the mat slapping the run buttons as fast as we could… Good times.

    Also, where were the good peripherals for SNES. I honestly can’t think of any besides the Super Game Boy.

  • 267 points
    decoupage says...

    The rumble pak was great for one reason… The video tape that Nintendo Power sent in the mail advertising Star Fox 64 and the rumble pak.

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