Ah, irony. When we predicted that 2009 would be a year of innovation for the video game business, who knew it would start by pushing the boundaries of silliness? As a visit to the Gaming Showcase pavilion at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) proved though, chuckles were in no short supply.
Here are just a few of the quirkier and more exotic products being marketed to joystick lovers.
Get Rich Playing Games ( getrichgaming.com) author and TV/radio host Scott Steinberg has covered technology for 300+ outlets from CNN to Rolling Stone. For more of his insights, visit scottsteinberg.com.
Given Nintendo’s fondness for officially reissuing classic games on updated formats, they won’t like DDRGame beating them to the punch with its own portable NES player. It does fulfill a real need, however. But so does software emulation that already lets Nintendo games run on portables such as laptops and iPhones (with equally dubious legality). And the emulating gadgets also hold hundreds of games without requiring an oversized carry-on. ($50, ddrgame.com)
Insert your motion-sensing remote here to look like even more of a geek virtuoso while enjoying jam band and orchestral simulator Wii Music. Not pictured: Optional cowbell add-on. Seriously!
Oddly enough, these sanitary wipes represent the most practical everyday accessory being hawked at the show. Still, marketing hygienic play to an audience that lounges around all day in Fruit of the Looms and Red Bull-stained t-shirts seems like a stretch. (Price not set, iwantmygameon.com)
Rock and Awe
Rock Band’s strobe-light and smoke-machine stage kit? That’s so 2008. Instead, channel your inner Slash using this fluorescent, vibrating stand that lends Guitar Hero’s histrionic chords extra power, literally sending shivers up your legs with every strum. (Price not set, acebayou.com)
If making characters run around virtual environments using a gamepad isn’t tiring enough, strap on this pedometer for the Wii that lets you do so by physically jogging. That might appeal to exercise nuts, but when it comes to VR, we prefer more virtual, less reality. ($22, play.com)
What kid doesn’t love a broadsword? With flying Wii-motes already wreaking havoc, one shudders to think how many puncture wounds this Dark Age controller cozy will cause. ($20, ddrgame.com)
We admit it, the Riff Rocker USB controller for desktop and notebook computers, compatible with Guitar Hero clone Frets on Fire, sure is cute. But its carpal tunnel-inducing miniaturized layout may provoke a frustrated, Pete Townshend-inspired fit of guitar smashing. ($15, totalconsole.com)