Nintendo is home to some of the most innovate gaming hardware out there to this day. Some of their ideas have been great, while others have just been a flash in the pan. Check out these 10 crazy ideas only Nintendo could pull off.
10 Crazy Ideas Only Nintendo Could Pull Off
We all know about the Wii and how it changed motion controls forever. Or the Wii U and how it brought a tablet to a game console. We aren’t going to hit on the obvious ones, but instead are going to dig deep and find some of the more crazy ideas Nintendo came up with.
#10 Donkey Konga Bongos
Before Rock Band and Guitar Hero, you could beat on bongos in Donkey Konga. Donkey Konga was a rhythm game that came with a special set of bongos you had to use for play the game. The premise was simple: pick a song and beat on the bongos at the right time. The title came with 33 playable songs, including The Pokemon Theme, Queen’s We Will Rock You, and the B-52’s Rock Lobster. Donkey Konga sold well and had good review scores. It then had two sequels, Donkey Konga 2, which released globally, and the Japan-only Donkey Konga 3. The game was also compatible with another Donkey Kong title on the GameCube, the platformer Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. Much like the rest of the items on this list, Nintendo quickly cut support. While Nintendo might not support it, expert Dark Souls players love to show off their boss-slaying finesse with the DK Bongos. Maybe they were just a little too hardcore for Nintendo.
#9 Virtual Boy
I’ll admit that this one is pretty common on Nintendo lists. While not claiming to be virtual reality, Nintendo did market the system as the first system to display in stereoscopic 3D. To use the hardware, players must put your face into the looking glass and start a game. As most people found out, however, this was not comfortable at all. Some users also experienced nausea and dizziness, much like some users get from VR today. On top of that, the monochrome color scheme of the games put a strain on your eyes. All these factors, combined with the high price point, ultimately made the Virtual Boy a failure in Nintendo’s eyes that they discontinued less than a year later. This was just a case of Nintendo being way to far ahead of the curve for their own good.
#8 Game Boy Camera And Printer
I can still remember the commercial for this now: a kid opens up lame preset, parents give him a Game Boy Camera and the jingle ends with the upbeat “Smile, you’re on Game Boy Camera”. The Game Boy Camera was a way for you to take pictures of yourself (or other things) with your Game Boy and print them out. Nintendo knew the selfie would be a hit before people even knew what a selfie was. Along with being able to take pictures, you could also add stamps and even fuse pictures to create monstrosities. It also came with a few minigames you could play, but I never had one so I have no idea how good they were. It also had a few Easter Eggs that would pop up from time to time. Apparently, if you picked the option to run at the menu you would sometimes get a random face that would pop up and ask “What are you running from?”. The faces were creepy and most likely would scare children. Nintendo debated if they should make a Game Boy Advance Camera, but they never did. Another example of Nintendo being ahead of their time, as cameras are now on all handheld devices.
#7 Wii Fit Balance Board
The Wii is the most successful selling Nintendo Console to date and Wii Sports helped a lot with that. Finding a Wii was hard at first, as everyone remembers, but the Wii Fit Balance Board was another nightmare to find. The Casual market made the Wii such a huge success and the same can be said about the Wii Balance Board. The idea that you could use a video game console to get in shape wasn’t new, but with the install base of the Wii it was a massive success. People were convinced they could use this thing to get in shape without paying for gym memberships or even leaving the house. You hear about the success stories here and there, with people losing 30 pounds using it on a daily basis. What you don’t really hear about is how many people used it for a week and put it in the closet. The Wii Balance Board sold over 42 million units in its lifetime, proving that people are at least interested in getting in shape.
Oh the joys of playing with my friends ROB the robot. ROB was a robot that you could buy with the NES and it could play two games. You could either play Gyromite or Stack-up with ROB. Gyromite came with some peripherals for R.O.B. and was used to teach you the R.O.B. controls. The direction pad was used to rotate R.O.B., and the A and B buttons were used to open and close its hands. What you basically did was pick up a spinning top, move it to the other side of R.O.B., drop it, and make it start spinning, pick it back up, and then drop it on a button where the second NES controller is hooked up. When you dropped the spinner on the button, it would hit either A or B depending on what button you dropped the spinner on. None of this might sound amazing, but back when I was five this was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Sadly R.O.B. was rare even back then, and today a working R.O.B. can upwards of $300.
#5 Bio Sensor
Maybe you remember an E3 press conference where Nintendo showed off the Vitality Sensor for the Wii? Before that they had the Bio Sensor for the Nintendo 64. This was an exclusive to Japan N64 peripheral that would monitor your heart rate and adjust games accordingly. Make that one game: it only ever worked on Tetris 64 and then Nintendo stopped using it. To get it working, you would plug it into the N64 controller and then clip it to your ear. From there, the sensor could determine your heart rate and send data to the game. For Tetris, this would change how quickly the blocks would fall. If you started to stress out, the blocks would actually fall quicker encouraging you to remain calm under pressure. This idea could have had some wide-spread use if implemented correctly, but my guess is that clip on your ear started to hurt after a while.
#4 Nintendo E-Reader
The E-reader was another idea that is used pretty commonly today on smartphones, except you scan codes instead of shoving a card into a reader. With the Nintendo E-reader, you could slide cards through the reader and then play the games attached to them. Old classics like Mario Bros., Excitebike, and Balloon Fighter could be played on your Game Boy advance. I didn’t really use it much for that but I did use it for Animal Crossing. Using the E-reader, you could communicate with your GameCube in the post office of Animal Crossing. From there you could get new items, new outfit designs, and new Town Tunes which would play when you spoke with certain characters. Sounds like Breath of the Wild, right? This was the Amiibo before the Amiibo. The E-reader actually lasted for a long time, from 2001-2008.
#3 The Link Cable
The Link Cable was a way to connect your Game Boy to other Game Boys before Wi-fi was a thing. When Pokemon took the world by storm, the want and need to battle and trade came with it. With this little cable, you could connect and face each other. A simple concept that yet again showed that Nintendo was ahead of its time. While connecting two Game Boys was an awesome feat, the Gamecube/Game Boy Advance connector was on a different level. It could be used as a controller for some games or even as a second screen. Remind you of the Wii U, anybody? The game I remember this from the most was Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. After the lack of support from Square on the N64, we finally got another Final Fantasy on a Nintendo system, and it was multiplayer to boot. Sounded great, right? Make sure you both have a Game Boy Advance and Link Cables, or else you won’t be playing together though. It was a hassle, and if you did manage to play together, someone had to carry the bucket. Nobody wants to carry the bucket! There was one more generation of Link Cables for the Game Boy, but with Wi-Fi gaining a foothold and the DS on the horizon, it quietly faded away like many other Nintendo peripherals.
#2 Nintendo Exertainment
This was one that I hadn’t heard of until another editor on the site pointed it out to me. Back in the day when Nintendo was trying to get into everything, they made an exercise bike for the Super Nintendo. It basically acts as a controller for the a couple of different games on the SNES. The bike needs more power then the SNES can give, so it actually comes with another box that plugs into the expansion port on the system. From there, you plug it in like a normal controller and plug the phone cable into the box and you are in business. From there, you start-up Mountain Bike Rally and start racing. Like most fitness equipment these days, when you would go uphill in the game it would actually add resistance to the pedals and make it harder on you. The bike also had a controller pad, buttons, and triggers on it for moving in-game. If you don’t fancy riding a bike, you can just play Speed Racer, another game that worked with the bike. Crazily enough, Nintendo actually put out two versions of this bike, and it has since become one of the most rare pieces of Nintendo history to purchase.
#1 Nintendo Knitting Machine
This is another one that a lot of people have likely never heard of. The reason for that is because it never made it out of development. Boasting that it could make “not one or two, but a multitude of different and unique designs,” Nintendo was really stretching with this one. It is true that when it came to the NES, Nintendo went wild, but most of the other peripherals were at least related to gaming. I really have no idea how you could make a game out of knitting. Maybe you could have made some designs in a game, and the Knitting Machine would make them into a sweater for you? Someone up the chain at Nintendo finally got wise to this and clearly cut the project off. Still, maybe Nintendo would be a major clothing brand today had this succeeded.
So there you go, the 10 crazy ideas only Nintendo could pull off. Let us know what you think and leave a comment below with which one you think is the craziest.