Your favourite failed speciality controller or gimmick?

You know, that funky looking controller with special functionality in a few games that was discontinued after a year because it cost more than the system itself. That console feature that awkardly shoehorned in a few launch games and then promptly shot in the parking lot because nobody really cared for it. Or that weird sound standard that was supported by two games around the turn of the decade and its only legacy is a Wikipedia page that hasn’t been updated since 2011 and an unfamiliar logo on that game you picked up in a bargain bin for $5. Or basically, what are your (least) favourites speciality controllers and gimmicks?

This thread was inspired by a friend of mine talking about his research into the Razer Hydra motion controller, which in turn reminded me of amBX. amBX was basically a gimmick used in PC games from 2008 to 2010 that basically was a middleware that would adjust your ambient lightning, rumble pads and supposedly fans (although it doesn’t like any of the games that supported amBX actually made use of those) based on what was happening on the screen. You can kind of see how it works in this video:

In the end, only about a dozen of games supported it because it was a lot of money and space for something that is neat in theory but kinda underwhelming in practice. The current owners of the technology rebranded it for sale to hospitals and scrubbed any mention of its application in games. It is a neat sidenote in the long, sordid history of abortive PC gaming gimmick. But what says you, Retro?


That reminds me of something Philips started doing around the same time (or at least I remember seeing it advertised on TV): Ambilight:

Still seems to be a thing. It probably still works in a similar fashion if you plugged a PC into one of the ports, but it won’t be controlling any fans for a 6D experience ahahaha.


The first game that comes to mind is Taito’s paddle controller for DS:


It works brilliantly with Arkanoid DS and both Space Invaders Extreme games (it’s so good leaderboards are kept separate between d-pad and Paddle controls) but that’s all the support it got. And it was only released in Japan so it’s been forgotten about.

If Taito opened it up to other developers it could have been something like the NeGcon was on the PlayStation - an extra way to do an analogue input well. And I’m always going to be gutted that one of their games, the DS version of Cameltry, came out before the paddle controller so doesn’t support it. Would have been perfect for it!


I used to have an Ambilight TV, loved it.

Those Taito DS paddle controllers don’t come cheap!

I see they also did one for NES.


And PlayStation.



Paddles in general are the bomb and deserve more love. Here’s to the PS5 replacing the trackpad with a nice paddle wheel!

Is there a decent, affordable USB paddle I can use for MAME and Atari 2600 Kaboom! ?

1 Like

There’s some DIY modded controllers on eBay.

I have a "DJ” controller (so not really for games) called the Numark Orbit that I use as a multifunction controller for all sorts of apps in various workflows. I use software called ControllerMate and Keyboard Maestro to map it to whatever I need. I’ll have to try it with RetroArch.

Wow, that’s one funky looking controller.

1 Like

Has to be a ‘failed’ one? Donkey Konga bongos won’t count?

Jungle Beat was so unique.

1 Like

Anything niche and weird is fine!

Wii U gamepad. I enjoyed it when it was taken advantage of but it feels like even Nintendo struggled with it. I still miss having clutter free UI and having my map and backpacks on the gamepad in some games

1 Like

Anybody remember the power glove for the PS1?

I don’t!

But that reminded me of this one-handed controller for PS1 that I have. perfect for playing with a baby on the other arm, though I am sure the original design specs focussed on something quite different.

Namco JogCon!

PS1 Ridge Racer 4 and PS2 Ridge Racer V only?

1 Like

1 Like

Is that from Curb?

(LOVE the Seinfeld show)

Yep, curb.

I’ve read V-Rally 2 supports it also.

1 Like

You’re right to be suspicious, as the controller was often sold bundled with Derby stallion a horse racing simulation game. Now why a free hand was better to play these sort of games I can only wonder…

PS2 game Surfroid came with a thumb surfboard controller in Japan

(Western release Surfing H3O did not)


1 Like