Retronauts Pocket Episode 3: NES Accessories

Retronauts Pocket 3

We know that the games are what makes retro game appreciation, but for many of us, it wasn’t entirely the games that made an impression, but what we played them with. After all, monstrosities like R.O.B. and the Power Glove became much-discussed parts of NES history, though relatively few people actually owned them. On that note, this episode of Retronauts Pocket touches on NES accessories, with a focus on controllers or other direct-input peripherals such as the NES Advantage, NES Max, Power Pad, Acclaim’s wireless controllers, and several more. Of course, we couldn’t talk about everything (it’s Retronauts Pocket, after all), but hopefully we helped jog your memory a little. Thanks for listening, and look forward to more accessory episodes when I take the helm again.

Direct download (MP3) | SoundCloudRSS
Find us on the iTunes Store and leave a nice review!

Links to pertinent TV commercials:


Filed under Retronauts, Retronauts Pocket

12 Responses to Retronauts Pocket Episode 3: NES Accessories

  1. I love the topic of old peripherals. My favorite on the NES is the Four Score. I never actually used it for multi-player, but it was great as a cord extension.

    One of my favorite peripherals is the ASCII Grip for later consoles like Saturn, PlayStation, and Super Nintendo. It’s a die-hard JRPG player’s controller of choice.

    I usually looked for accessories for a practical application. I was never fooled by the gimmicky controllers like the NES Max or U-Force.

    Although, I am a sucker for retro-style controllers for more modern controllers. Mad Catz came out with a pretty cool retro controller a while back that was a nice throwback to the NES pad. Also there’s the Hori digital pad on Gamecube. And Sega made a perfect replica of the Saturn controller for PS2.

    • Pasha

      I wish someone would make a functioning 3rd party n64 controller. The 64 games I wanna go back and revisit in emulation just don’t feel right without that odd piece of kit, but all of the sticks on each and every n64 controller I own are completely demolished.
      I loved that odd trident of gaming possibility but man… those sticks do not age well.

  2. Sean C

    Great episode. Glad to see some hardware discussions. Do I wish you expanded the scope to 8-bit peripherals so you could talk about some SMS stuff? Sure. But the NES had more than enough crazy stuff to cover. I had some friends who between them owned the power glove and uforce. And they were horrible and laggy. The power pad was indeed tiring. And everyone I knew just eventually used the on your knees pounding position. The only real NES optional controller I liked was the advantage. It worked pretty well.

    As a SMS owner early on, one of the cool things they had that was mail order only was a rapid fire adapter that hooked inline with your joypad with two toggle switchs and some LEDs. It would add rapid fire to whatever controller you had plugged in and could be switched on or off on each button with the switch. That always for me seemed like the most elegant way to add rapid fire while still using your controller of choice.

  3. _u_n_d_e_r_s_c_o_r_n_

    Can we get an update on when backer rewards will be sent? Or did I miss that?

  4. Super Boy Alan

    I don’t know if it counts, but I’ve been spending some time recently with the Vaus controller that came with the NES release of Arkanoid. I like that you can pull that little thing off the front of the controller to get to that yellow screw – makes it super-easy to calibrate.

    Even with it, though, it’s probably still one of the hardest games for the system – assuming you’re playing without cheat codes and all that.

  5. Where does the Game Genie fit into all of this?

  6. Hey, wait a minute. I just remembered something.

    Ray, you said, “It’s not really something we covered on the show before,” but if I remember correctly, there absolutely was an accessories episode of Retronauts in the very early days. Maybe it was one of those weird episodes that neither your or Jeremy was on.

    I vividly remember Jenn Frank doing the Game Genie “bleep bloop bleep”.

  7. rmckee78

    I never had any of the crazy NES controllers because my dad was an electrical engineer and pronounced them all crap on sight. Something I was wondering as I was listening to this, were any third party Light Zappers made? If so, were they pretty standard fare, or were there crazy variations on the light gun concept?

    A few other questions/comments:

    1) I am really enjoying the show in its current form, but I missed out on the kickstarter. Is there any way I can pay you for the entertainment you provide?

    2) Do you still accept letters? If so where do we send them?

    3) I am really enjoying USgamer. I was pretty worried when 1UP went away that I would not be able to find that style of games journalism concentrated in one place again.

  8. I’m usually the last person to be Mr. Corrective, but there was one tiiiiiiny (and totally understandable) factual mistake made: Bad Street Brawler was in fact the other Power Glove game. Using the glove let you use an attack move that’s otherwise unavailable.

    I really only bring this up because it turns out that the secret to this attack wasn’t anything inherently special in the Power Glove itself- it was actually just pressing Left and Right simultaneously, which the glove can easily do. This wasn’t discovered until fairly recently, for perhaps obvious reasons, but it’s noted in the SDA run of the game. I thought it was kind of amusing.

    You might also be able to do it on the NES Max, as I think of it. Anyone who hates that controller should give it another shot while avoiding the red part completely. The black rim can be used very effectively, especially if your thumb can rest horizontally or vertically across the rim. The turbo placement is ace as well, great for quickly switching gears in something like Mega Man where you can appreciably benefit from turbo or non-turbo fire depending on the moment. I’m actually really sad that it’s still so under-appreciated thanks to that awful circle part. It’s red as in herring to an otherwise great controller.

  9. Christopher McTiernan

    Great show as always. You guys did do a show about peripherals during the original run, but this felt a lot more focused. I’m loving how the revolving host idea is working out. As Jeremy mentioned early on, you all have a unique style and approach to hosting, and it really does make the show feel fresh and new from week to week.

    Anyhow, accessories! I had a ton of them for the NES and played the hell out of them. I was even one of those crazies who enjoyed the R.O.B. games (I think Hip Tanaka’s music had a lot to do with that). Gyromite was actually a legitimately fun game if you had another person controlling the gates for you instead of having R.O.B. do it. Would your friend actually help you beat the level, or would he screw you over at the last minute?

    But the most insane peripheral-based game I’ve ever played, by a wide margin, is Gumshoe. Has anyone EVER beaten that game without sitting an inch from their television screen? If so, you’re my idol. I used to play that game with the barrel of the gun actually pressed up against the glass, and it still took me weeks to get all the way through it. The final boss fight at the end of stage 4 is just cruel and unusual!

  10. The NES Advantage had 2 controller plubs so that 2 players could use the stick in 2 player alternate games. You did not have to plug both plugs in, you could just use one and put a regular game pad in the other port. Despite the legendary build quality on the Advantage, I wore the A button down in a month, so that I would have to press down super hard just to get it to register. Not fun in any game, where A is jump.

    You could depress the ren circle on the NES MAX and it would register.

    For the programable gamepad for the SNES, I programmed a simple pattern: Left, Right, A, and taped down the macro button so that it would loop. Then I would use it in Final Fantasy 6 after I got Setzer, since he had a heal without MP move, I think it was when you got nothing on slots, lagomorph would show up and do a little heal. The left right would move your character back and forth on the overworld until a random encounter occured. I had battle selection set to memory, so the 3 other characters would attack, and setzer would do slots. If your characters had high enough level for the area, you would always heal enough so you wouldnt die. You could gain 40 levels overnight. Of course this would prevent you from switching materia for max level up bonuses, but the game is so easy with leveled characters it barely mattered.

    The only 3rd party controller I ever liked was the Ascii Pad for snes, It felt just like the official one, but a bit thinner. The turbo settings where unobtrusive. I think the cord was shorter though.