If you haven’t heard the latest bizarre news from Nintendo, the Switch will be receiving a range of cardboard accessories this April. Dubbed Nintendo Labo, each “Labo Kit” will include a cardboard cut-out for you to shape into a controller alongside a compatible game. It’s an undeniably unique idea that Microsoft and Sony would have never dreamt of. However, this isn’t the first time that Nintendo have announced a bizarre new product. It would be impossible to list them all, but here are some of the company’s weirdest forgotten innovations.
Remember Skylanders? It was a franchise that kicked off in 2011 that revolved around collecting physical figurines and scanning them into the game to unlock content. It was a massive hit and led juggernauts like Lego and Disney to try their hands at creating similar games. However, Nintendo had already experimented with a similar model way back in 2001, albeit with limited success. The Nintendo e-Reader was an add-on for the Game Boy Advance that allowed players to scan trading cards to unlock bonuses in various games. It wasn’t incredibly well-received when it first released though as it required you to own two separate Game Boys to get the most out of the device. I imagine that Nintendo designed it like this to encourage trading between friends, but it just limited who could use the add-on. Although it had features tied to hit franchises like Pokémon, Animal Crossing and Super Mario, it was discontinued before its time and is rarely mentioned by Nintendo today.
R.O.B has received renewed fame in the past few years after his appearance as a playable character in both Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart, but I doubt that many outside of Nintendo’s hardcore fanbase are aware of his strange origins. R.O.B (or the Robotic Operating Buddy) was released alongside the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1984. He was designed with ability to hold and press buttons on an NES controller so a single person could tackle a multiplayer game. This is genuinely an add-on designed to allow those without friends to play on the NES. Sadly, R.O.B was only ever compatible with two games and was discontinued relatively quickly after the NES hit it big.
Nintendo Knitting Machine
This is probably one of the weirdest add-ons ever announced. I say announced because the Nintendo Knitting Machine never actually made it to market. Revealed in the late 1980s and supposedly compatible with the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Knitting Machine would have allowed NES owners to design patterns on the TV and knit them onto jumpers. It was described in an official brochure as a “just one more example of the innovative thinking that keeps Nintendo on the cutting edge of video technology”. I struggle to see how a knitting machine is at “the cutting edge of video technology”, but maybe that’s what consumers were dying for in the 1980s. It’s a shame that the NES never received the promised Nintendo Knitting Machine, but I doubt many gamers were needling the company for answers after its quiet cancellation.