R.O.B. with NES color scheme
|Type||Video game controller|
R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy), released in Japan as the Family Computer Robot (ファミリーコンピュータ ロボット), is an accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It was released in July 1985 in Japan and October 1985 in North America. It had a short product lifespan, with support for only two games which comprised the "Robot Series"; Gyromite and Stack-Up. R.O.B. was released with the intention of portraying the Nintendo Entertainment System as something novel in order to alleviate retail fears following the video game crash of 1983. R.O.B. was available in the Deluxe Set, a configuration for the console that included, among other things, R.O.B. and Gyromite. Stack-Up was purchased separately and included its own physical game pieces.
R.O.B. receives commands via optical flashes in the screen. Once it lights up, it is ready to receive six commands. Just like the NES Zapper, R.O.B. only functions correctly when coupled with a CRT (Cathode ray) type television. All the Robot series games include a test feature that sends an optical flash that should make R.O.B.'s LED light up.
R.O.B. can only be operated with two games for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Gyromite came with two gloves, two gyros (heavy tops for depressing red/blue trays), two red/blue trays (with levers for pushing buttons on second NES controller when a gyro is resting on the tray), one spinner motor (for accelerating the gyros), and two black trays (for depositing gyros when not using them). These pieces are rare today, because people often lost these parts due to their small size. Direct game mode is a feature used to learn how to use R.O.B. or to play with R.O.B. without playing the game. Gyromite is a puzzle-platformer in which the character has to collect dynamites before the time runs out, with several red and blue pillars blocking his way. In Game A, the commands are made by pressing START and then pushing the direction in which to move R.O.B., and using the A and B buttons to open and close his arms. If R.O.B. places a gyro on the red or blue button, it pushes the A or B button on the second NES controller, moving the pillar of the corresponding color. If both buttons need to be pressed at the same time, the gyros are placed in a spinner so that they will stay balanced on the button without R.O.B. holding it. Game B has the same controls, except that START does not need to be pressed to make R.O.B. accept a command.
Stack-Up comes with five trays, five different colored blocks, and two gloves into which the blocks fit. In the Direct game mode, the player makes their block set up match with the one on screen by moving Professor Hector to the button that corresponds to the desired movement. In Memory, the player has to make a list of commands to recreate the displayed block set up (R.O.B. follows the list after finishing). In Bingo, the player has to make the shown block set up (the color of the block does not matter). There are two enemies, one which causes the player lose a life and the other which makes R.O.B. perform undesired actions.
- Height: 24 cm/9.6 inches
- Runs on four AA batteries
- Head movement range: 45° tilt, horizontally centered
- Arm movement range: 240° left/right (five stopping points), 7 cm/2.75in up/down (six stopping points), 7 cm/2.75in between hands when open
- Five accessory slots around the hexagonal base (numbered clockwise, starting at the rear-left; from the robot's point of view) and notches on the hands allow for specialized parts to be attached depending on the game.
- Optional tinted filter could be attached over the eyes to compensate for use with overly bright televisions.
Appearances in media and reception
R.O.B. has appeared as a cameo character in various video games, such as StarTropics, Kirby's Dream Land 3, the Star Fox series, the WarioWare series, the F-Zero series, Viewtiful Joe, and his head appears in Pikmin 2, called the 'Remembered Old Buddy'. R.O.B. is also featured as an unlockable character in Mario Kart DS and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, he acts as one of the game's antagonists, the Ancient Minister, serving as part of the Subspace Army and commanding various differently-armed R.O.B's. He switches sides when his forces are destroyed by his former allies. 
The creation and marketing of R.O.B. as a "Trojan horse" after the North American video game crash of 1983 was named the fifth in GameSpy's twenty-five smartest moves in gaming history. Yahoo ranked R.O.B. as one of the craziest video game controllers and noted the unfortunate fact that the gaming peripheral only worked with two games.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to R.O.B..|
- "NES". Icons. Season 4. Episode 10. G4. December 1, 2005. http://www.g4tv.com/gamemakers/episodes/4844/NES.html. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
- "25 Smartest Moments in Gaming". GameSpy.com. Archived from the original on June 12, 2007.
- "R.O.B.". Smash Bros. DOJO!!. Nintendo. March 6, 2008. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
- "The Subspace Army". Smash Bros. DOJO!!. Nintendo. August 21, 2007. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
- "Hard to Handle: Craziest Game Controllers - R.O.B.". Yahoo. May 26, 2010. Archived from the original on June 2, 2010. Retrieved January 30, 2013.