Growing up in the 80’s exposed you to many, many odd fashion trends. It brought MC Hammer pants, the wedge haircut and neon arm sunglasses. Many of these embarrassing fashion statements went (Thanks to the 90’s). But the 80’s also brought us some of the coolest NES accessories known to every kid wishing he were the star in “The Wizard”. I was able to feed some banana peels into my Dolorean and head back to 1985 and take pictures with my Polaroid for you convenience, of course.
<Pst, the secret word of the day is “NES”. When you read NES you scream as loud as you can>
NES Power Glove – A controller accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System designed by the team of Grant Goddard, William Novak and Sam Davis for Abrams/Gentile Entertainment, made by Mattel in the United States and PAX in Japan. Though it was an officially licensed product, Nintendo was not involved in the design or release of this accessory. It was the first peripheral interface controller to recreate human hand movements on a television or computer screen, and was commercially successful as almost 100,000 were made and sold in the U.S. alone. However, it is often derided by gamers due to its imprecise nature of controls, and the fact that basic actions such as jumping or using an item may be very difficult or impossible to pull off reliably.
NES Cleaning Kit – The Cleaning Kit contained two green plastic cleaning tools and an instruction manual. The first tool consisted of a plastic handle and an end with a C-shaped padded cleaning surface. This surface was designed to be wet with water and inserted over the contacts of a cartridge and used to scrub the cartridge’s contacts. The second tool was similar in design and function but had a flat padded end for insertion into the console itself to clean the console’s contacts. Cleaning the console and the cartridges once a month would supposedly extend product life and increase reliability. Long use would eventually dirty the cleaning pads, which could be replaced at cost through either mail order or by phone using information found in the manual. The Cleaning Kit was apparently created in response to the common practice amongst gamers of blowing into the cartridge or console in an attempt to remove dust from the contacts.
NES Power Pad – The Power Pad (known in Japan as Family Trainer, and in Europe and briefly in the United States as Family Fun Fitness) is a floor mat game controller released in the United States for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It is a gray mat with twelve pressure-sensors embedded between two layers of flexible plastic. It was originally developed by Bandai.
Bandai first released the accessory in 1986 as the Family Trainer pack for the Famicom in Japan, and later released in the United States under the name Family Fun Fitness. Soon after its American release, Nintendo bought the rights for it and re-released it in 1988 as the Power Pad, along with the game World Class Track Meet, which was a rebranding of an earlier game.
The accessory is laid out in front of the video display for various games, generally plugged into the second controller port, with players stepping on the large buttons to control gameplay. There are two illustrated sides to the pad: Side A, which is rarely used, has eight buttons, while side B has twelve buttons numbered from 1-12.
NES Light Gun – The NES Zapper commonly known as “the gun” (or Famicom Light Gun in Japan) is a pistol-shaped electronic light gun sold as part of the original Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985 and the Nintendo Famicom in 1984. The Japanese iteration was a realistic portrayal of a revolver style hand gun, but when released in North America was made to look like an unrealistic science fiction ray gun that also tied into the design of the NES. The gun has no real grip; the handle is hard plastic. Early Zappers were gray, but later the color was changed to a neon orange. The Zapper allows players to aim at the television and shoot various objects. Different games used different targets; for example, the player may shoot ducks, clay pigeons, or other targets.
NES R.O.B. – R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy) is an accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System. He was used in the Robot series. He was released in July 1985 in Japan as the Famicom Robot and later that year as R.O.B. in North America. He had a short lifespan, with support for only two games, but remains known today for the role he played in getting the Nintendo Entertainment System into retail stores in the United States.
The Robotic Operating Buddy was sold in 2 packages. One was the NES Deluxe Set, which featured a control deck, the NES Zapper, 2 controllers, and 2 games (Duck Hunt and Gyromite). The other package only included R.O.B. and Gyromite. In Japan, the Famicom Robot was sold with Stack-Up. Though he was only compatible with Gyromite and Stack-up, his most successful use was as a “trojan horse” to garner interest following the video game crash of 1983. Retailers, reluctant to stock video games because of huge losses they incurred during the crash, were willing to stock R.O.B. with the NES as a “robot toy.” He worked, as retailers stocked the NES, giving Nintendo its first major foothold in the western market.
NES Advantage – The NES Advantage was an arcade style controller sold for the Nintendo Entertainment System beginning in 1987. The device was meant to rest on a flat surface at a comfortable level, such as a tabletop or the floor, with the player seated behind it. This way, it could be used like an arcade game joystick — with one hand using the joystick and the other manipulating the buttons.
The Advantage was a rather advanced controller for the time, with variable-speed turbo that could be flipped on or off with a button, pseudo-slow motion (basically toggling the Start button rapidly), and the ability to plug into both controller ports (useful for games that had an alternating two-player mode, like Super Mario Bros.).
NES Miracle Piano – The Miracle Piano teaching system was a MIDI keyboard/teaching tool created by The Software Toolworks for the Nintendo and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Apple Mac, Commodore Amiga, Sega Genesis and PC. It consisted of a keyboard, connecting cables, and either software on 3.5″ floppies or an NES/SNES/Genesis cartridge. When connected to the console or computer, a user followed the on-screen notes. Its marketed value was as a tool to teach kids and to play the piano. It provided hundreds of lessons, and was advertised as the perfect adjunct to formal lessons. Due to its prohibitive price ($500) and low sales, the keyboard and NES cartridge together are a rare find. Aside from being released in the United States, the Miracle Keyboard was also released in multiple regions within Europe. The European versions are, however, much harder to find. Some of the NES Miracle keyboards were also later converted for PC use – the Nintendo Seal of Quality on these boards was covered up with a piece of plastic.
Most hardcore gamers owned many of these gadgets, but I don’t know who bought the Miracle Piano. Yes, it was high priced and it was ahead of it’s time but it was also displayed on a cloud. Very non cool. I know I’ll hear alot of it, so let me say it now: Alcohol and Q-tips did not clean as good as the cleaning kit. The kit had to stay in for 15 minutes while the pad absorbed all those nasty microbes the NEW Cartridge Sleeve couldn’t keep away. Damn this list should be the 8 greatest, because the sleeve was soo cool. Not the black one, the one with Nintendo written on the side.