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1. Family Computer Network System
When you think of Nintendo Online, you probably think of the Switch. But back in 1988, the Family Computer Network System took the Famicom online.
This allowed gamers to download new games and compete in online achievement contests.
In other words, Nintendo in the late '80s pioneered the innovations most gamers wouldn’t enjoy until the advent of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
2. SegaScope 3D Glasses
Although the 3D functionality became less prominent over time, it was the central feature of Nintendo’s 3DS when that system first launched.
But before Nintendo could run, Sega had to walk by releasing 3D glasses for the Sega Master System.
While the glasses only worked with eight titles, they showed gamers just how cool 3D gaming could be.
3. The Power Glove
The Nintendo Power Glove gets a lot of crap, and rightfully so for its terrible controls.
But the basics of this idea—to bring games to life and make them more interactive—can be seen in future technology like the Wiimotes, Kinect, PSVR, and so on.
Nintendo may have dropped the ball here, but they also showed us the way to the future.
While not as infamous as the Power Glove, the U-Force is another NES accessory famed for bad controls.
Its gimmick was that it used infrared technology to record player motions so that gamers didn’t even have to touch a controller.
Did most players dislike it? Sure. But this accessory imagined a gaming world that didn’t need controllers. Now we have entire fields of AR and VR games that experiment with gesture-based controls that the U-Force pioneered.
5. Freedom Connection
Nowadays we take wireless controllers for granted. But the Freedom Connection for the NES was one of the first accessories to transform regular controllers into remote controllers.
A simple idea, but pretty damn mind-blowing in the '80s.
6. Power Pad
Even before the infamous Power Glove, Nintendo was obsessed with making games more interactive.
That’s why they released the Power Pad, an accessory that lets gamers enjoy titles like World Class Track Meet with only their feet.
Throw in titles like Dance Aerobics and you get an accessory that was a precursor to the entire Dance Dance Revolution phenomenon.
7. Yoko Game Copier
Some accessories that were ahead of their time were arguably a bit immoral. Like the Yoko Game Copier, which allowed you to rip Atari 2600 ROMs to a special cartridge.
This is arguably the precursor to all modern game piracy. Of course, the ability to rip and share ROMs is also the precursor to archiving old games so they're not completely lost to history.
8. NES Satellite
The original NES only supported two controllers, so most multiplayer games only supported two players.
But the NES Satellite was one of the first “multitap” devices that allowed for up to four players on certain games.
This helped to normalize having four players on the same console, which has now become the norm.
9. R.O.B. the Robot
When the NES first launched, the video game crash was fresh on people's minds. Nintendo wanted to be seen as a toy more than a game console, so they include R.O.B. the Robot in early console models.
R.O.B. added an element of physical interaction to a handful of games by doing things like grabbing blocks in real life.
This was an underutilized gimmick that only worked with two games, but this effectively predicted future interactive figures like Nintendo’s popular Amiibo.
10. CX20-01 driving controller
The CX20-01 driving controller isn’t super impressive at first glance. But it is one of the first accessories designed exclusively to help players enjoy driving games.
That makes this Atari device the precursor to decades of specialized steering wheels and pedals.
11. Coleco Kid Vid Voice Module
Sometimes predicting the future is messy. For example, the Coleco Kid Vid Voice Module put games on cassette tapes so players could enjoy video game voice acting in 1983.
In practice, the module was terrible and only two games took advantage of it. Nonetheless, this is a precursor to all of the fully-voiced games we enjoy today.
12. GameLine Master Module
Would you believe online gaming was available as early as the Atari 2600?
The GameLine distribution service, combined with the Master Module, helped subscribers download games over the phone and upload high scores to compete for prizes.
While this service cost too much for what it did, several of its founding members created Quantum Computer Services, which went on to become America Online.
13. Karaoke Studio
In 2003, the Karaoke Revolution games popularized the interactive music genre, eventually leading to hit games like Rock Band.
But this technically all started in 1987 with Karaoke Studio on the Famicom, which transformed the system into a karaoke machine you could enjoy right in your home.
14. CX78 Power Control Pad
If modern gamers play old consoles like the Atari 2600, the weirdest part is usually the controllers. Most of them were overly simplistic, overly complex, or confusing.
The exception is the CX78 Power Control Pad. It anticipated the design of the standard NES controller (although it has a little joystick instead of a d-pad).
It may have taken them several tries, but Atari effectively predicted the next few decades of controller design.
15. Nintendo Zapper
The NES Zapper really needs no introduction. This light gun provided hours of entertainment with games like Duck Hunt, Hogan’s Alley, and Operation Wolf.
The success of this home accessory would lead to decades of console light guns ranging from the Super Scope to the Konami Justifiers and full circle to the Wii Zapper.
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