Innovation can come from the weirdest places. Ideas that initially seemed silly and unneccesary (such as the rumble feature found in the PlayStation controller) would go on to become accepted standards in the industry. However, not every gimmick is quiet as lucky. In fact, most video game gimmicks end up failing spectacularly.
While gaming has been filled with plenty of misfires and screw-ups, here are the five absolute worst gimmicks that tried to revolutionize gaming and totally failed
5. The Power Glove
“I love the Power Glove. It’s so… bad.” With a single line from a cheesy movie, kids across the country suddenly yearned to get Nintendo’s glove-based gaming controller. The Power Glove was said to be the next logical step for gaming; after all, why play a game with a dinky controller when the action could be controlled through arm movements and a sci-fi looking pad?
And then kids actually got their hands on the thing. While the Power Glove was said to revolutionize the way we play games, the truth was that very little time was actually spent gaming. The majority of the time with the Power Glove was spent trying to get the stupid thing to recognize movements, with plenty of gamers flailing their arms in frustration in hopes of getting Mario to just move across the screen. The built in gamepad didn’t help matters either, with the awkward setup of the buttons and the odd placement of the pad being found to be uncomfortable.
The accessory was a gimmicky flop, and Nintendo eventually halted support of the Power Glove. The Power Glove has gone down in history as a wacky misfire, popping up as the butt of the joke or as a unique animation tool more than a fondly remembered product. While “The Wizard” got kids to buy the glove by declaring it “so bad,” if only they knew that that description was all too accurate.
4. 3D Gaming
While 3D gaming is nothing new, the world has become enamored with the idea of playing games that popped right off the screen
But although 3D gaming sounded great on paper, it wasn’t as great in execution. People quickly found 3D gaming useless, unnecessary, and just plain dumb. The glasses required to enjoy 3D gaming were uncomfortable and awkward, only serving to take gamers out of the action instead of further immersing them. While 3D movies only last for 2 to 3 hours, gaming can last quiet a bit longer, and it was found that staring at the 3D image for hours at a time could lead to splitting headaches and dizziness.
In the end, 3D gaming was a flash in the pan, with no real staying power.
3. Vitality Sensor
Tucked in between Nintendo’s bombshell announcements at E3 2009 was an odd little peripheral named the Vitality Sensor.
The Vitality Sensor was said to plug into the Wii controller, and would then clip onto a finger. One activated, the Sensor could track your heart rate, check your vitals, and as Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata phrased it, offer information “relating to the inner world of your body.” Nintendo also envisioned the Vitality Sensor being utilized alongside video games, with the device having the potential to track fear in a horror game or the level of relaxation in a yoga game.
But the revelation of the Vitality Sensor was met with an overwhelming shoulder shrug. No one really understood what it did, and no one really seemed to care. After years of silence concerning the device, Iwata admitted during an investor CEO that the Vitality Sensor ultimately just didn’t work like the company anticipated, and that led to the project being canceled. While the recently departed Iwata never gave up hope that the Vitality Sensor would one day see release, no one seems to be clamoring for a finger trap that happens to plug into your Wii.
When Microsoft unveiled the Kinect, the company claimed that the little black box would change the way we play video games. Instead of relying upon archaic controllers, the Kinect allowed players to use their whole bodies to play. Truly, this was the gaming accessory of the future.
But this turned out to be a touch optimistic. When launched for the Xbox 360, the Kinect turned out to be a semi-competent motion sensor that struggled to catch movements, consistently didn’t hear commands, and just didn’t work very well. Despite the mixed reception to the 360’s Kinect, Microsoft decided that the device still had legs, announcing that the Kinect would come standard with the Xbox One. While the new device worked better, it still caused plenty of headaches.
Microsoft finally threw up the white flag, releasing an Xbox One devoid of the Kinect and offering the device separately. Microsoft has vowed to continue to support the Kinect, but the device still isn’t being utilized like Microsoft originally anticipated.
1. Virtual Boy
There are spectacular misfires, and then there is Nintendo’s Virtual Boy. This odd little black and red system was touted as a game changer, with its “virtual reality” set-up said to be gaming’s next logical step. The system allowed gamers to peer into an eyepiece, which displayed black and red games that seemed to surround the player, allowing true gaming immersion. The system seemed revolutionary. And then it came out.
With its eye searing red-and-black graphics, awkward “periscope” set-up, clumsy controller, and laughable game library, the system was dead in the water. Far from a gaming revolution, the system was labeled an abject failure, leading to Nintendo yanking it from the market a year after it launched. While the Big N would later find success in the world of 3D gaming with the Nintendo 3DS, the mere term “3D Gaming” was considered toxic for years after the Virtual Boy’s failure, and the system is still considered a black mark on Nintendo’s otherwise sterling reputation.