Nintendo Has Tried Detachable Controllers Before (In 1984)

There's a report from Eurogamer today that the Nintendo NX will be a handheld featuring "detachable" controllers. It's a neat idea, but it's also one that Nintendo have a bit of experience with. When I was a little kid, I would always bug my parents for a video game console like a Master System or NES, because those were the kind of games you'd see on TV ads and in magazines, and they were the ones my friends were always playing.

We had a Commodore 64, though, and for my parents, that was enough. The idea that I'd want some other kind of machine that also played games was just... beyond them at the time.

I was persistent, though, and so one year (I think I was five? Six?) they came up with a compromise. For my birthday they bought me... this:

Image: Evan-Amos

It's a Game & Watch Micro Vs. System. Specifically, the Donkey Kong 3 version. It wasn't a console, in that I couldn't change the game, but it was a Nintendo, and it had this insane feature where it would open up like a clamshell and you could pull out two little control pads. Because they were wired, you'd actually have to unwind them, with the cord stored inside the controllers while you had them stashed in the game case.

Video source: Dr Retro

I loved it. Yeah, the game — a simple little thing where one player would control Stanley the Bugman and the other (or AI) Donkey Kong as you tried to... move some bees around — was crude and repetitive. But the novelty of pulling this thing out of my schoolbag cannot be understated. This was, in a tangible way, like having a tiny little NES you could take anywhere (this was before the Game Boy was released), and me and my friends would huddle around it for hours taking turns on the controllers. It felt like a small piece of the future.

Image: Lulu Berlu

This would have been around 1985-86, which was a little late considering that Vs. System Donkey Kong 3 was first released in 1984. It was one of three such machines released in that same year, the others being Donkey Kong Hockey (above) and Boxing (which was re-issued as Punch Out!), below.

Image: Japon

That's over 30 years ago, and is an idea we haven't really seen since, so it's not like Nintendo has been hard at work perfecting the same idea just for the release of the NX. But it's just another example that whatever weird shit you can think of when it comes to video game tech, you can bet Nintendo has at least thought of it before, if not brought it to market.


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Comments

    The speculation is insane surrounding the nx, we know literally nothing but are prepared to sink our claws into any possibility.

    If the hybrid thing is true, then we'll basically have a combination of the 3ds form factor, the wii u streaming tech, and the razer cortex.

    A consolidation of the hand-held and console business has been underway at nintendo for a few years now, and following suit with the hardware seems almost too practical.

    Show me something really crazy, Nintendo!

    Last edited 27/07/16 12:15 pm

      No way this would be able to hit power and cost.
      I think the whole hybrid thing that everyone has hatched onto is a joke.

    It's too hard to separate fact from fiction at the moment. I'm as hopeful as the next person to see the thing but there are still people who think the 3D-printed fake controller photos were legitimate. Because of the coverage all that got.

    I cant' believe what I'm seeing above, let alone factor in how that'd work in 2016. Or 2017.

    This won't be hitting stores by March, that much is for certain. Argh now I'm doing it...

    It's not entirely surprising they would try to rework and old idea. You could argue the WiiMote is really not too disimilar to the Powerglove tech, it just sits in your hand, not over your hand but you're still using hand motion to control whats on the TV with a sensor that sits on your TV plugged into the console.

    Does anyone know what happened with the Phantom console touted a few years back? Played these back in my youth and remember cord issues....

      Didn't that thing turn out to be a huge scam?

    I have 2 of these hand held Nintendos at home from when I was younger, they're very well made.

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