Trim console clutter to two best accessories

Scientists estimate one Wii dies every hour, an unfortunate victim of suffocation beneath heaps of unnecessary, cheap plastic peripherals.

Accessories for the Wii and DS have gotten out of hand, and a short walk through your local Target or Wal-Mart provides ample evidence. Remote sleeves, stickers, cooling fans, tennis racket add-ons — aside from robbing you blind, this price-tagged waste has no practical use.

I’ve been paddling through ponds of pointless plastic peripherals all week long, and I’ve found you can easily clear your console clutter by trimming it down to two accessories with real, functional benefits.

Then again, if you really believe a baseball bat attachment aids your swing in Wii Sports, clutter should be the least of your concerns.

Nyko Technologies is a chief architect of the saturated market for Nintendo paraphernalia, with a very extensive catalog of mostly useless niche items ranging from a Wii cooling fan to the Classic Controller grip to the right.

Yes, they actually sell that thing.

Ironically, however, Nyko also makes one of most useful Wii accessories on the market — the Charge Station.

According to a July 2006 analysis by IGN’s Matt Casamassina, a pair of alkaline batteries powers a Wii Remote for 30 hours of gameplay with pointer use and 60 hours without it. Consider that the system’s Zelda launch title Twilight Princess spans between 40 and 50 hours of gameplay, and the Wii Remote’s battery life becomes a clear issue.

They don’t sell batteries in Hyrule — mostly just arrows and bombs.

The Charge Station virtually eliminates this problem. Simply click the included rechargeable battery packs into two Wii Remotes, snap the tight-grip covers on and always place them in the charging dock after playing — your Wii Remotes will be perpetually juiced, always ready for a round of tennis or a trip to the perilous Sweet Sweet Galaxy.

The ultimate luxury afforded Wii enthusiasts by the Charge Station is the Ron Popeil approach it enables. You just set it and forget it!

In addition to saving money otherwise squandered on batteries and reducing hazardous waste, the Charge Station also has surprising gameplay benefits. The grip provided by the included covers gives the Wii Remote a more comfortable feel, and the weight added by the battery pack feels more satisfying than that of the Remote alone.

Nintendo DS enthusiasts, on the other hand, have a different set of worthless accessories, some even more absurd than those for Wii.

An adapter for cigarette lighters in automobiles? Is anyone other than Lloyd Christmas planning to drive non-stop across the country?

DS owners are also faced with a common problem. The inevitable result of repeated stylus-slamming and finger-greasing, the touch screen on the Nintendo DS is like a criminal standing before a firing squad, helpless in the face of the incessant pummeling that awaits.

A scratched touch screen is bad news, plain and simple.

A set of silicon screen protectors is the easy winner for Nintendo DS accessory of choice. I applied a pair to the screens on my DS Lite the day I purchased it, and they’ve been remarkably effective, allowing nary a single scratch on the heavily used touch screen. The protector itself is also fairly unscathed, still as smooth to use as it was new.

The industrial-strength Game Chamber? Not quite as useful.

Screen protectors are made by several companies — Hori makes a popular one I’ve had fantastic results with, while the Pelican brand has been criticized for leaving a sticky residue. Whichever brand you choose, though, you’ll have the most useful DS accessory around.

Let’s be honest. Times have gotten tough. Most avid gamers are scraping their pennies to fund their hobby, and you need all the cash you can spare — forget the LED-filled styli, forget the locking plastic armor, forget the grip attachments and even though it looks cool, forget the 12-inch Super Mario statue that also holds your DS.

It’s $29.99, which is enough for Big Bang Mini, a large McDonald’s value meal with crispy french fries and some Pop Rocks. Score.

Instead, lose the junk smothering your Wii and DS and invest in a Charge Station and screen protectors, the systems’ best accessories.

Go ahead. Let ’em breathe. You’ll feel better you did.

Agree? Disagree? Did we miss something? Did we throw out one of your favorite system accessories? Let us know in the comments!