The video game industry is littered with terrible gadgets. But while the gaudiest gear -- Nintendo's ROB the Robot and PowerGlove, or the original Xbox's massive Steel Battalion setup -- score headlines, it's the smaller bits and baubles that can really make you crazy.
Intended to make your gaming experience smoother, easier, smarter, or prettier, the worst extras often wind up spending more time in a drawer than your hands. Here are a few pieces of gaming hardware you should probably play without:
HDMI Cables Expensive HDMI Cables
It's a common tale: You tear open the box for your brand new home console, start setting it up, but are miffed to find that the system didn't come with the correct cable to take advantage of your HD TV. You'll need an HDMI cable -- and that's where things get kooky.
We're not going to venture too deeply into the debate about whether 'high-end' HDMI cables deliver better visual quality than cheap ones. That's something videophiles can quibble over. The fact is: The majority of the population isn't nuance-focused enough to see a dramatic difference between bargain basement cables and, for instance, these clinically-insane $1,000 cables. Save your money -- and your mind -- by keeping your HDMI purchase under $20 and spend the extra dough on a new game or two.
8-in-1 Wii Sports Pack Wii Sports add-ons
There are really too many of these silly plastic extensions to list separately. Put simply, any device you stick your Wii remote into that looks like a tennis racket, golf club, baseball bat or any other full- or partial-sized sporting utility does nothing more than make you look like a dork. On top of that, the added weight may slow down your reaction time and make you a worse player. And, let's face it, there are enough recorded accidents from the Wii without having to add accessory-related damages to the mix. Unless your kid is absolutely begging for a plastic fishing rod or something, leave the Wiimote alone.
Glowing PS3 controller Cheap, gimmicky third-party controllers
While there are a handful of good third-party controllers on the market, most are bad ideas. In general, they're less comfortable than first-party controllers, and it's not uncommon for the triggers to get stuck and for parts to break when subjected to heavy usage. Need another controller? Spend the extra $10 or so and grab one from the company that made the console. They know it best -- and they've spent the most time and money researching what players truly want from a gamepad.
3rd Space Vests Gaming Vests
Everyone wants their game to be more immersive. That's especially true in shooters like Call of Duty and Bioshock. But there's a point where immersion goes too far. That point is the video game vest.
Goofy vests have been around for ages (N64 Rumble Vest, anyone?), but these days the market is corned by the 3rd Space Game Vest. Taking force feedback to the next level, the vest ... well, let's allow the company's marketing to explain: "Sense the direction and force of bullet fire, crushing explosions, and fear-inducing finger taps, perfectly synced with the on-screen action." Using an air compressor to simulate the impact of bullets, this vest will simultaneously make a questionable fashion statement and set you back $139. Wear a jacket instead.
DSi Zoom DSi Zoom Lens
Look, we know it's cool that the Nintendo DSi comes with a camera, but no one in their right mind is going to use this thing as their primary method of capturing life's Kodak moments. Fun for parties? Sure, but attaching wonky, unwieldy lenses to a streamlined device like the DSi is just silly. If you absolutely feel the need to buy attachable lenses, maybe it's time to start looking into DSLRs.