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

6. NES Zapper – NES – 1985

Can’t you just hear the infuriating laughter of the dog from Duck Hunt as your quacking prey flies away into the distance unscathed? The NES Zapper was one of two peripherals that launched with the Nintendo Entertainment System when it came to North America, along with R. O. B. It’s a light gun used to play shooting games– it works by responding to very quick flashes of light onscreen that are reflected into the gun to determine a hit or miss.

The Zapper actually came out in Japan first in 1984 as a companion to Wild Gunman, a remake of a classic physical Nintendo arcade title from the early 1970s. This Japanese version of the gun was designed to look like a realistic revolver, a far cry from the science-fiction type blaster used in other territories. In fact, Nintendo was so afraid of the Zapper looking like a real gun that its color scheme was changed from grey to bright orange.

This old gun earns a place on the list of best Nintendo peripherals due to its sheer fun and usefulness. Unlike the old robot, the Zapper worked with over a dozen games, most famously Duck Hunt, which has earned a place in gaming culture forever (there’s even a guy who runs a blog dedicated to Photoshopping Zappers in place of real guns). However, the Zapper isn’t as ageless as it might seem, because it can only function on a CRT television with a curved screen– those newfangled flat screen, plasma, and LCD displays just don’t reflect light properly.

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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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