We’ve dedicated time to the best GameBoy accessories on the planet, so it’s only fair that we cover the best NES accessories of all time too! We try not to show favouritism over the best retro handhelds and our favourite retro consoles – Brandon (Retro Dodo’s Apache Chief) is all about the portable, whereas I’m what you might call the ‘Home Console Head Honcho’ (very much a working title).
I’ve had every Nintendo console ever made and have lived and breathed the brand from the very first time I held a NES controller in my hands. Just short of 62-million people bought one of these consoles back in the day, and while technically the Colour TV Series are classed as Nintendo’s first console range, the NES will always be the one that kickstarted their unprecedented fame.
This console brings back a lot of memories for me as I first played it with my uncle Mimmo, who sadly passed away when I was around seven-years-old. He would show me all of the gadgets he had bought for his NES and SNES consoles and let me have a go with many of the items on this list when we went over to visit.
It’s fair to say that he was the one who got me into gaming and the world of Nintendo (trust us Italians to plump for the moustachioed plumber, eh) and showed me some of the amazing accessories that made this console one of the most popular gaming machines of all time.
This list of the best NES accessories features some firm fan favourites, a few rare gems, and also some new items that have come out in recent years which have been designed to bring the world of retro gaming to the masses. If you’re a collector or simply want to pimp your setup, then you’ve come to the right place!
N.B The following entries are in no particular order; they just fall out of my brain and onto the keyboard.
1. NES Mini
It seems only right that we start with the new and improved NES Mini, an officially licensed member of the ‘classic mini’ home console series. Always the first to spot a gap in the market, Nintendo kickstarted the classic mini series back in 2016, with the Classic NES console selling over 4-million units to date.
Each game has multiple suspend points too, so you won’t have to worry about losing all of your progress like in the ‘good old days’.
The NES Mini lets you relive all of your favourite NES titles in HD, including games like Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid and more.
There are 30 titles pre-installed, and if you’re a nostalgic fan who wants to use an HDMI cable to see Samus on your HDTV or a young gamer who wants to relive Nintendo history without having to sit in front of a tiny screen, then this is undoubtedly the bit of kit for you.
2. NES Zapper
If you’re sticking with your original NES and have an old-skool gaming set up, then the next item on our list of the best NES accessories is one that you shouldn’t waste any time in buying. I couldn’t wait to go round to my uncle’s place to have a go on Duck Hunt with the NES Zapper.
This thing looks like an extra from VR Troopers felt super futuristic. It used ‘light beam’ technology to allow you to shoot certain objects on your TV screen and was incredibly accurate (as it says on the box!)
Unlike the next gadget coming up in our list of the best NES accessories, the Zapper had a lot of compatible games including Freedom Force, Hogan’s Alley, Chiller, and around 20 more titles.
You could also pimp the Zapper up with an add-on accessory called the Deluxe Sighting Scope made by a company called Bondwell. The Zapper only works on CRT displays, so you might need an old TV if you want to give this one a try!
Nothing says ‘technology in the 80s’ quite like R.O.B, possibly the most collectable item in our list of the best NES accessories. Picture the scene; you’re a child in the 80s (some of you won’t have to picture it as you will have actually lived it).
E.T is a household name, the Star Wars Saga is fresh in everyone’s minds, and robots ‘from the future’ are the coolest things going. Enter R.O.B, a robot accessory that doesn’t only plug into your NES console, but it can also play games with you. Mind…officially…blown!
The truth about R.O.B is that it was really a clever marketing gimmick, but one that went on to capture the hearts and minds of gamers everywhere.
This clever toy helped to save the video gaming world after the North American Video Games crash in the early 80s, and most NES owners who were later surveyed said that they wanted the console because of ‘the world’s first interactive robot’.
R.O.B was designed to be a ‘player 2’ for people who wanted to play multiplayer titles when their friends were busy.
It had two compatible games; Stack-Up and Gyromite, and remains to this day one of the least useful but highly coveted gaming accessories ever made. Are you really a NES fan if you don’t have R.O.B up on a shelf?
4. Power Glove
Nintendo prided themselves on making ‘accessories of the future’ and fitting in with the sci-fi films and shows that were making waves in the entertainment industry. Why let the Star Wars characters have all the fun of using ‘the force’ when gamers could get in on the action too.
The power glove is like a Power Rangers accessory that mere mortals could control. It had a series of buttons that could be used to make certain commands and was praised for its innovative design.
Like R.O.B, this device had a humongous marketing budget but not a lot of games; everyone wanted one, but they weren’t sure what to do with it when they got their hands on (or in) one!
The Power glove had two games; Bad Street Brawler and Super Glove Ball, and a further two that were announced but never released. T
wo miniature speakers sent pulses out at specified intervals to determine the position of your hand and transmitted it directly to the NES console. It’s all pretty high tech stuff and the kind of thing that Dustin (Stranger Things) would probably go berserk over.
5. Hyperkin Bluetooth Controller
If you’ve already checked out our list of the best Nintendo 64 accessories, then you’ll know that Hyperkin is a big name in the retro console market. The company create new and exciting hardware that can be used to either complement old systems or replace them entirely, using their knowledge and passion for gaming to ‘give the people what they want!’
This latest offering is an updated version of the classic NES controller with a wireless Bluetooth receiver and curved back-pads for a more comfortable grip.
Hyperkin specialise in some of the best NES accessories on the market, including third-party versions of many of the gadgets in this list. They are also the minds behind the device at Number 10, but don’t skip ahead just yet!
This controller keeps to the original style nicely while getting rid of those squared-off edges that would dig into your palms. It’s wireless up to 30ft and has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can give up to 6 hours of play!
6. Freedom Connection
Of course, if you want to go old-school and think that the idea of a new wireless accessory for your precious retro console is sacrilegious, then you’ll need an alternative solution.
Don’t worry, because you can still make use of wireless technology thanks to the Freedom Connection from Camerica, a device that turns any controller into a wireless remote with an 18-foot playing range. How amazing is that!
Using Infrared technology and different dongles that clip onto your body which can differentiate between first and second players, you can eliminate wires all-together.
This is huge for a time when most devices were wired – I still remember my grandma’s VCR that had a wired remote! The Freedom Connection was, in my opinion, pretty ahead of its time and the first example of wireless gaming that the world had ever seen. Give it a try if you want to get rid of the wires and take your gaming to the next level.
7. Z Bag Carry Case
80s clothing and gear were all about being as un-stealthy as possible, and the next item on our list of the best NES accessories definitely sticks to that trend. The Z Bag was more like a lunchbox than a tote bag or carry case, but it was a sure-fire way of keeping your NES safe while out on the road.
It was padded; had room for your console, controllers, and games; and it also had that all-important Nintendo logo on the front too. This is the stuff that dreams were made of!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; I miss the days when people use to play games on the same sofa as one another.
Carrying a home console round to a friends house and playing some games with a takeaway and some beers was one of the best ‘night’s out’ ever (it’s a night out because you’re leaving your house – that counts, right?).
Don’t forget that this was also in a time where you could rent consoles for a night or two as well, so having the Z Bag meant that you were basically your own delivery service and could charge your mates for the gaming experience. Looks like the beers are on you guys, again!
8. U Force Power Field Controller
Welcome to the wacky world of the U Force Power Field Controller. This device essentially uses a series of sensors to turn hand movements into controller signals and looks a little like the kind of thing that an evil villain would use to launch a nuclear missile.
It’s perhaps the most ‘sci-fi’ inspired item on our list o the best NES accessories and one that every collector needs in his or her arsenal.
Billed as the most exciting invention in video game history and promoting a space-age style of gameplay where you are literally ‘in control’ of your own actions, this battleships-style fold-out board was actually one of the biggest flops of all time.
The adverts said ‘don’t touch’, and many people decided that this slogan was the bit of the marketing campaign that made the most sense.
As with any flop, it’s now a massive collector’s item and has since become one of the most sought after accessories for the console. Grab one for yourself and see what you make of it!
9. LaserScope Headset
How many of you wanted to look like Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles shooting down swamp rats in their T-16s? The Konami LaserScope gave you that same look with a futuristic helmet that makes Robocop look like a Cabbage Patch Kid.
This device uses the same technology as the NES Zapper and works with all of the same compatible games. It came with a sniper-style crosshair worn over the right eye and would fire a light-laser whenever the user shouted ‘fire’ into the mouthpiece.
The LaserScope gets its power from the NES’ audio port, and as such can be used as a set of headphones for playing your favourite games too. You’d probably be better buying a pair of BOSE headphones instead of using these while out in public, but who are we to judge!
10. Retron 3 HD
We’re heading back to Hyperkin for the last gadget on our list of the best NES accessories, but this time the item in question is an accessory for your NES games, not the console itself.
Hyperkin specialises in upgrading old retro games, and this console upscales all of your favourite NES titles, the best SNES games, and the best SEGA Genesis games all in the same console. There’s no emulation involved; simply stick your existing cartridge into the console and see your favourite games in crisp 720p HD!
The Retron HD 3 comes with an HD cable and a cable for powering the device up, giving you everything that you need to get gaming right out of the box.
It’s the perfect solution for anyone who want’s to downsize and just keep one console or who might not want to splash out on 3 different mini consoles that have games they’ll never play.
This might not sit very well with retro gaming purists, but I think that it’s a cracking bit of kit and one that definitely deserves a mention in our ultimate list of the best NES accessories!
As with every console, some of the best accessories are just too hard to find or super expensive. They might not have made the official cut of the best NES accessories, but they still deserve an honourable mention for their part in sending the NES to superstar greatness.
- NES Super Chair – a chair that you senses your movements and moves the on-screen character. Buttons were found on the handgrips.
- Camerica Freedom Deck – an arcade-style pad.
- Homework First – a locking device that would prevent you from playing until you had completed all of your homework and chores!
- Miracle Piano – learn piano with a MIDI keyboard and corresponding game.
- Turbo Touch 360 – a touch sense controller.
Final Thoughts . . .
Nintendo and their associated third-party developers made some seriously futuristic accessories for the NES. It’s true that some of them are a little bit pants, but some of them were groundbreaking and paved the way for future gaming inventions.
Think about the joy-cons that we use for the Nintendo Switch or the Wii sensor bar – they wouldn’t have been possible without the U Force or the Zapper. The ideas were always there, and it’s interesting to see how they changed and were improved on over the years.
I love the fact that Nintendo were so on board with the ‘gadgets of the future’ way of thinking. Some of these items might have only had a couple of games a piece that they could be used with, but they made gaming so much more interactive and fun than just sitting down with a controller.
You don’t see anything like these kinds of accessories any more, with the exception of the Nintendo Labo series for the Switch. I’d like to see some members of the retro gaming community modifying some of these gadgets and giving them a new lease of life. What do you guys think? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.