I don’t mean to sound like a cranky old man talking about how much better things were in the old days…but I miss how back in the day, you didn’t need to buy a new peripheral for every freakin’ video game that was released. It was a simpler time, when video game systems pretty much came with everything you needed right in the box.
Oh, sure here and there were robots and power pads, but those items were few and far between. Besides, the games that came with them were usually better sleep aids than a turkey sandwich washed down with Ambien. You weren’t missing out if you couldn’t cough up enough shekels.
This old timey way of thinking lasted from the Atari 2600 until just before Guitar Hero was released. Guitar Hero is both the single greatest and single worst thing to happen to video games since controllers went from two buttons to four. If you want to play this deliciously additive music simulator, you have to buy the special guitar peripheral. Oh, and if you prefer to play with somebody else, which will spare you the embarrassment of jumping around your living room by yourself while your neighbors laugh at you while spying through your front window (not that this has ever happened to me, mind you), you have to shell out another $50 for an extra guitar.
The success of Guitar Hero brought about Rock Band, which upped the ante by requiring not only a plastic guitar (or two), but a drum kit and microphone. The starter package for this one runs around $150. Extra guitar not included. Rock Band 2 was recently released.
It pains me to no end to say this, but the most flagrant peripheral abuse comes from Nintendo. It starts with the Wii controller, which consists of two parts. The fine folks at Nintendo are nice enough to pack one of each in the box, but if you even want to think about playing with another human, you need to buy another two pieces—each sold separately. Then there’s the Wii balance board, which aside from being harder to find than a dude who will openly admit to having seen MAMA MIA, is creating new avenues for game developers. As we speak, really cool games are being fashioned that will utilize the board in tantalizingly fun ways. So it's not a device that can easily ignored as a gimmicky way to trick people into thinking their getting in shape, when all they're really doing is playing a video game. And I can’t forget to mention the also impossible to find Mario Kart, which comes with the Wii Wheel.
But Nintendo isn’t stopping there. No sir. Coming this fall is a new Wii Sports game that is being sold with, you guessed it, another peripheral, which is supposed to improve the motion sensor in the Wii Remote. Since the motion control is the one thing that makes the Wii stand apart from all other video games, it’s unfathomable that they’re asking us to pony up another $50 (per remote) to fix something they should have gotten right in the first place.
But don’t put away that debit card before you consider this—later this year, Guitar Hero is unleashing a new version in order to compete with Rock Band. This new GH is going to be sold with…that’s right…a drum kid and microphone. Oh, and a new guitar so you won’t be able to play the game with the old guitars you already bought to play with the last Guitar Hero.
I didn’t know that I was going to be nickel and dimed when I chose to re-enter the video game world. But there’s no turning back now. I’m in. I’m hooked. I love the Wii. Guitar Hero rules. So I have a choice to make. I can try to ignore all of these peripherals and hope that they continue to make great games for the stuff the came in the box or I can take out a second mortgage on the house. Because not only are all of these extras expensive, I’m going to need more space to store them all.