When the Nintendo Entertainment System was released in North America, it was a hot seller and was flying off the shelves. Eventually, the sales started to slow down and Nintendo came up with an idea to keep their profits high, and they even continue this idea to current day consoles. If console sales are slipping, we will pay third party companies to flood the market with accessories that may or may not be horrible ideas. For the NES, that meant we would get ideas like the Power Glove, the Power Pad, the Roll ‘N Rocker, and so many more.
My first accessory, and my absolute favourite for some weird reason, was the U-Force. The U-Force was released in 1989 and was created by a company called Broderbund, which is well known for creating hit games, such as Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Prince of Persia, and Myst (one of the highest selling PC games of all time with six million copies sold). Thankfully, after Broderbund created the U-Force and it absolutely bombed, they went back to making video games for the PC.
On the outside, The U-Force just looked like a big “Nintendo grey” case, but when you opened it up similar to a laptop, it looked like a wonderful futuristic peripheral with a shiny black surface and a red grid that marked the sensors. There were buttons on the bottom that were the start and select buttons, because, I guess, the accessory also came with a joystick that looked similar to a jet fighter control, with buttons on either side. The U-Force promised futuristic motion sensor technology, unfortunately it didn’t deliver on that promise.
I am not even sure how I came to possess one of these, I can only assume my parents, or grandparents, were walking through Zellers one day, saw the Nintendo logo on the box and said “He has a Nintendo”, and picked it up without any knowledge of the product. I am also sure that when I opened it up I was super excited for it, like any eight year old kid would be. However, I am sure that excitement did not last very long.
I only remember three particular incidents with the U-Force, and it could be because those were the only times I ever used it. When I first got the it we tried it with every game I owned at the time, which admittedly was not very many, but we tried it, and the only game it worked well with was Punch Out. Speaking of Punch Out, the problem with having an accessory that you throw punches at, is that eventually a child is going to throw a random punch that is going to go too far, hit the U-Force, and knock it off the table and onto the floor, needing duck tape to fix the corner that inevitably will get broken. Later, I remember hearing a rumour that someone was able to beat the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game with the U-Force, so being the challenge oriented child I was, I decided to try it. Let’s just say that the punch that knocked the U-Force off the table that time might not have been an accident.
The U-Force was an accessory that didn’t quite hit the mark with the fans, but you can still see videos on YouTube where people are using it to play more recent games using emulators, and there are still quite a lot of them for sale online. I will always remember it as the Punch Out accessory.