When Sony launched its PlayStation back in the ’90s, the company was then mostly known as a trusted
maker of stuff like iPod forefather the Walkman and other consumer electronics, not to mention as one
half of a famous failed partnership with Nintendo on a previous system. With such a pedigree, it was
easy to wonder how they could compete with established companies that focused purely on gaming.
Compete, though, they did. Sony’s original PlayStation caught on and became an unmistakeable
presence in the console wars, managing to secure its own market share between Nintendo and Sega’s
offerings of the era.
The first PlayStation’s success wasn’t lost on third party peripheral developers; as is still the case
with today’s popular gadgets, all sorts of stuff was being produced to be plugged into/worn near the
ascendent game machine, and, also like today, not all of them were terribly necessary, or free of shame.
Of these questionable add-ons, here are our picks for the most awkward.
5) Lara Croft: The Memory Card
An accidental tribute to sexual frustration, this Lara Croft memory card undoubtedly protruded from
many a nerdy gamer’s PlayStation console in the ’90s when the spelunking socialite was at the height
of her popularity. Of course, it doesn’t help that this rendering makes Lara look like she was flattened
on an interstate somewhere. The upside? Any and all cherished unlocked cutscenes of Lady Croft’s
adventures were protected safely beneath the card’s turquoise bosom.
4) Leather Controller Gloves
These leather controller mitts (also made for the N64, pictured above) may seem like a great first step
toward starting your own sweet gaming biker gang at first glance, but beware: they may act as creepy
signifiers of an unhealthy interest in leather. Of course, your opponent’s discomfort could certainly
provide welcome distraction during virtual competition, where your friend’s eyeing of the closest exit
may give you the upper hand. Yeah, probably still not worth it though.
3) The Shock Pak
The Shock Pak was a thing (really). It tapped into the “all stuff should rumble now” craze of gaming
in the ’90s, upping the ante by adding a blinking red light nobody demanded to the mix. Gamers could
also strap it to an appendage of their choosing for extra vibrate-y weirdness, which was only magnified
when you consider that the Dual Shock controller was available for purchase at the same time the
Shock Pak was being sold, making it even less relevant. Er… happy gaming?
2) Wu-Tang Clan: The Controller
This was the big reason to buy the special edition boxed set of Wu-Tang Clan: Shaolin Style for
the PS1. Ostensibly for fans who loved the game so much they needed a controller shaped like the
group’s “W” emblem, the bulky accessory was also perfect for anyone who didn’t like analog sticks,
rumble features, and controllers that were comfortable to hold in general. To date, it remains the
strangest (and only) attempt at representing the Wu-Tang Clan in controller form.
1) The Reality Vest
Picture this: you’re at your friend’s place for a night of pizza and gaming. You sit down on the
couch, controller in hand, ready to showcase that 13-hit combo you spent the afternoon memorizing.
Suddenly, your friend remembers something. “Hold on a sec,” your host requests, leaving the room
only to reemerge sporting the Reality Vest, a device purportedly designed to bring gamers closer to the
action by issuing motorized sensations around their torso during play. “It vibrates all over,” he proudly
declares, seating himself next to you. Of course, by then it’s all but too late: the only “reality” you’ll
be experiencing for the rest of the evening is one where every Jin Kazama punch may equate to an
electronic massage for your pal’s chest. Yeah, thanks a lot, Reality Vest.