Doubling the Fun: The NES Satelite

Posted by Steven Collier on Oct. 9th, 2015

The NES was home to some of the greatest four player games ever made. Yes, you read that right: FOUR players. Over two dozen games were developed that taxed the NES beyond any sane limits to allow an unprecedented quartet of gamers to play simultaneously alongside one another on the same screen. And here you thought Contra's two-player mode was intense.

Video games are almost always more fun when you have friends around to join in on the experience. And when it comes to games specifically designed for cooperative and competitive play: the more, the merrier. However at launch, the NES only hosted two native controller ports. This lead to countless childhoods filled with "controller sharing," where gamepads would change hands every time someone died. It was a system that was efficient and fair, but frustrating. One misstep, and you might be waiting half an hour to get another crack at Double Dragon.

Nintendo was not blind to this problem. Their system simply didn't offer enough controller ports to match the number of gamers out there. So, in 1989 they produced the NES Satellite. It was a revolutionary accessory that allowed up to four controllers to run off of a single NES console. It was comprised of two parts: an external controller jack that constantly broadcast a wireless signal to a separate receiver mounted onto the NES. It's wireless capabilities effectively extended any controller's reach by a whopping 12 feet, allowing gamers unprecedented freedom to sit wherever they wanted while playing their NES.

However as nifty as all this sounds, everyone knows that the value of any peripheral is only as great as the games it supports. Well, believe it or not the Satellite actually worked with a LOT of quality titles.

Just take a look at this list:

- Bomberman II

- Danny Sullivan's Indy Heat

- Gauntlet II

- Greg Norman's Golf Power

- Harlem Globetrotters

- Kings of the Beach

- Magic Johnson's Fast Break

- Monster Truck Rally

- M.U.L.E.

- NES Play Action Football

- A Nightmare on Elm Street

- Nintendo World Cup

- R.C. Pro-Am II

- Rackets & Rivals

- Rock 'n Ball

- Roundball: 2 on 2 Challenge

- Spot: The Video Game

- Smash TV

- Super Off Road

- Super Jeopardy!

- Super Spike V'Ball

- Swords and Serpents

- Top Players' Tennis

That makes a grand-total of 24 games. For comparison: the legendary NES Zapper worked with no more than 16 licensed titles, the Powerpad supported 7 NES games, and R.O.B only works 2 games. Now, don't get me wrong: quantity in no way equals quality. But, I'd argue that the Satellite more than offered both.

Anyone who remembers the chaos of playing Bomberman II's VS mode, might be surprised to know that its Battle Mode actually allowed up to three players to match wits across its mazes.

Similarly, Gauntlet II really benefitted from the Satellite. Unlike its predecessor, the port of Gauntlet II could host just as many players on a home console as it did in the arcades.

SMASH TV made use of the Satellite a little differently. It still only allowed up to two players, however each player could now use two gamepads to experience the game in an entirely new way! By using one D-Pad to move and another to shoot, SMASH not only became far easier to play, but came much closer to replicating its iconic arcade controls.

However, where the Satellite really shined was sports titles. NES Play Action Football ,Nintendo World Cup, Super Spike V'Ball heck, even Greg Norman's Golf Power all gained an ENORMOUS boost to gameplay by allowing more of your buddies (and rivals) to play against one another at the same time.

By enabling a four player mode, the Satellite radically altered the gameplay experience of a multitude of awesome games. Simply put: if you didn't own a Satellite, you weren't really experiencing everything your library of games had to offer. Add to that the fact that it doubled as a high-quality extension cord, and it more than earned its place in any gamer's collection. 

The Satellite was a rare kind of accessory that was specifically designed to enhance the one thing video games do best: bring people together. By just adding two more players, the Satellite made game nights around the NES a real possibility. It was a device that literally everyone on your block could gather around and enjoy. And, you know what? 26 years hasn't done anything to lessen that value. If you love playing games with family, or friends both old and new, this is a must have accessory for the NES.

We think the Satellite is a great item.
And we think that if you give it a chance, you'll agree.
We'd like to give you that chance.

So, for a limited time, we're offering all NES Satellites for 50% off their usual price.
Just use the order code: SATELLITE50.


However, our love for the Satellite has not.

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