The best stuff that didn’t come with the box
Games and consoles have lasted for around five decades, and you know what has been with them all this time? Gaming accessories. Many of these devices, like motion controllers and link cables, opened up new gaming opportunities that weren’t available before. Others, like the Power Glove or the Sega Activator, were merely expensive novelties. But some of the best gaming accessories make memorable experiences for everyone, and here are 10 of them for you to consider.
10. Game Shark or Action Replay
Game Shark and Action Replay used to be amazing resources for gamers on consoles like the PS2 and Nintendo DS. They’re the ultimate cheating device that lets you gain legendary Pokémon from the get-go and even fight the final boss of Kingdom Hearts 2 in Mickey’s throne room. You can even make Mario invincible throughout an entire playthrough of New Super Mario Bros. This kit helped make games easier and allowed for more intriguing playthroughs, making it one of the best gaming accessories you can purchase.
9. PlayStation Move
The PlayStation Move isn’t the grandest step in gaming on this list, but it has survived two, technically three, generations at this point. The Nintendo Wii brought a wave of casual gamers into the ecosystem with magnificent titles like Wii Sports and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess utilizing its motion-based technology. When the PlayStation Move controllers launched in 2010 (four years after the Wii), Sports Champions was surprisingly compelling, especially with its swordplay and table tennis. There is also the highly underrated Sorcery that lets you live out your wizard dreams with entertaining spell-based gameplay and inventive uses of the PlayStation Move technology.
The controller also felt more responsive than the Wii remote and nunchuck at the time with its camera-based tracking. The Move then was utilized for PlayStation VR on the PS4. While the gaming accessory pales in comparison to what Oculus provides with its own controller, the PlayStation Move helped bring in new fans to the VR medium.
Like the PlayStation Move, Xbox’s Kinect tried to capture the casual audience that Nintendo’s Wii brought into the space. To Microsoft’s credit, the Kinect succeeded at doing that with over 24 million units sold, according to GameSpot. This is one of the best gaming accessories because it was extremely simple to use. You don’t need a controller, eliminating a barrier of entry. The Dance Central series is a blast with flashy choreography, step-by-step instructions on how to pull off each move, and, most importantly, an excellent setlist. The pack-in game Kinect Adventures, while simple, was a thrill with fun mini-games for the whole family.
There were some stumbles, like Han Solo cringingly dancing to a spoof version of “Ridin’ Solo” by Jason Derulo in Kinect Star Wars and poor body tracking in Sonic Free Riders. However, the Kinect stands tall as an excellent motion game accessory that has been elevated into a tool for hospitals.
7. Dance Dance Revolution Pad
Dance Dance Revolution was a phenomenon back in the early 2000s. It took over arcades and the home as well. Laying these mats on the floor, each direction that you input is commanded by your feet.
The goal of Dance Dance Revolution is to get the best score (or at least enough points to survive each song) and move your feet to the rhythm. As with the Kinect and Dance Central, the DDR pad is a great way to exercise and lose some pounds. Dance Dance Revolution was so popular that even a Super Mario spinoff was made exclusively for GameCube! Now, this unique controller is being used in legendary walkthroughs for games like Elden Ring.
6. Taiko Drum
One of the coolest arcade experiences around doesn’t involve traveling to the far-off world in Halo or shooting criminals in Time Crisis. No, this game involves hitting a plastic drum in time to some sweet anime tunes. Taiko no Tatsujin, a rhythm game that uses a taiko drum as its instrument, is one of the best arcade games you can find. But arcades are pretty sparse these days, which is why it’s a good thing Bandai Namco created a taiko drum accessory for home consoles like the PS2 and Nintendo Switch.
The concept is extremely simple but entertaining. Like Guitar Hero, you’re drumming to the beat with sticks in your hands. Similar to an actual taiko drum, you can play the instrument in-game by hitting the inner circle of the drum (red) or the rim (blue). Hitting the pseudo-instrument, you get the tactile feeling of playing to the beat, and switching between the inner and outer sections of the drum is challenging yet satisfying to pull off. This, plus the addition of Nintendo, JPOP, and anime soundtracks to the song list, makes Taiko no Tatsujin a great rhythm game to sink your teeth into.
5. Wii MotionPlus
On the topic of Nintendo accessories, the Wii MotionPlus was a giant leap from the original Wii remote. You place this upgrade on the bottom of the original controller, and then a deeper level of accuracy is added to your games. Later on, Wii remotes with the MotionPlus technology already installed were released to the public. Wii Sports Resort is the best example of this tech, letting you wield a sword or throw a frisbee with greater precision than previously. It was almost like a leap from the PS4 to PS4 Pro but at a much lower cost. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword also utilizes the Wii Motion Plus. It tracks the movements of your hand, so you can slice an opponent in a specific way with the Master Sword, avoiding a broken shield and hitting the hip, for example. Shooting with the bow and arrow is also satisfying with this accessory. This Wii remote upgrade is easily one of the best gaming accessories in history.
4. Guitar Hero/Rock Band Controllers
Some of the best gaming accessories in existence (that sadly fill the stock rooms of thrift stores today) are the Guitar Hero and Rock Band instruments. The genre was a phenomenon back in the mid-late 2000s and these plastic peripherals were all the rage. It was thrilling to jam out with your mates until the wee hours of the morning, rocking out to songs from AC/DC, The Beatles, Aerosmith, Green Day, and the Ramones.
The guitar requires a level of accuracy as players strum the controller’s buttons to play different notes. The drums, just like Taiko no Tatsujin, are satisfying to use and had a pedal that you had placed your foot down to keep in beat. Then, the least wanted role in the band, the singer, would hopefully provide the bars to get you through the song. It was a grand time as you finished the story mode, unlocked all the songs, and tried to get the best high scores on the leaderboard.
3. Game Link Cable for Game Boy
The Game Boy link cable isn’t thought about much these days, but before Bluetooth wireless connections and Wi-Fi, this was the only way to trade Pokémon and play multiplayer games with another Game Boy owner. Part of Pokémon‘s early success was the ability to battle and trade with other players. To get a full Pokédex, you needed the link cable to trade, so Graveler could evolve into Golem, for example. Battling with your buddies was also cool as you could prove to your friends that training your Poémon was your cause. Fighting games like Street Fighter 2 and Killer Instinct also supported this cable on the Game Boy Color.
2. The Fight Stick
Speaking of Bandai Namco, which has created the Tekken series, arcade fight sticks have helped elevate the competitive scene. Rather than begging your mom to go the arcade after school, you could play these fighting games with an arcade-style stick at your very own house. Decades later, fight sticks are now used at competitive fighting game events like Evo and CEO, among many others. They provide a great amount of precision with every movement of your character. In addition, the buttons are tactile and can help you make those split-second decisions within a match of Street Fighter V or Mortal Kombat 11. Some of them, however, are pretty expensive with HORI’s Fighting Stick Alpha ranging around $200.
1. PlayStation VR Headset
One of the most impressive gaming accessories ever made is the PlayStation VR. It is cheaper than the competition and sweeps you off into different worlds surprisingly well. The screen itself has a lower resolution, but seeing Quill in Moss beneath you in its small mouse form looking at you is something else. The deep perspective you gain from the device is absolutely marvelous. It truly sucks you into the narratives that games like Wanderer or Trover Saves The Universe are trying to tell. You can play the entirety of Resident Evil 7 on this thing, and it’s intense. The inventiveness of Astro Bot: Rescue Mission with the VR headset, like hitting an obstacle with your head, is marvelous.
The previously mentioned PlayStation Move controllers work well enough as your input as you shoot objects in front of you and strike foes with a sword. The PlayStation VR 2 will likely be an upgrade, but with the price that it’s offered at and the poor launch window lineup, it might be worth checking out the original PlayStation VR headset while it’s cheap used.