This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
North American cover art
Gyromite[a] is a video game released in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, designed for use with the Robotic Operating Buddy. Gyromite and Stack-Up comprise Nintendo's Robot Series of NES games. The opening screen of the game shows the title Robot Gyro, the Japanese name of the game for the Family Computer. Essentially, the Gyromite game program is unchanged from the Famicom Robot Gyro cartridge, and many Gyromite cartridges contain the circuit board from a copy of Robot Gyro attached to an internal adaptor that allows it to appear as an NES cartridge. Famicom games have 60-pin connectors, so the adaptor automatically converts the game so it can be used with the 72-pin connector in an NES.
Professor Hector and his assistant, Professor Vector, navigate side-scrolling platform levels with the help of their creation, R.O.B. Their lives are threatened by dynamite and hungry little bird-like creatures called Smicks, and Professor Hector's sleep-walking tendencies get him in trouble as well.
As the Professor character moves through the levels, R.O.B. must aid navigation by raising and lowering red and blue gates. When a Gyro depresses the red pedestal, a lever presses the B button on Controller #2 and red gates are lowered. When a Gyro depresses the blue pedestal, a lever presses the A button on Controller #2 and blue gates are lowered. The action on the screen never stops, so while operating R.O.B., the on-screen character continues to be vulnerable.
In this mode for 1 or 2 players, the player controls both R.O.B. and a Professor character, switching on the fly. Professor Hector (Player 1) and Professor Vector (Player 2) must collect all of the bundles of dynamite in each of 40 successive levels. When the player presses start, the screen turns blue, the Professor looks outward from the screen toward R.O.B., and the next button pressed issues one command to R.O.B. Every command to R.O.B. must be preceded by a press of the Start button. Wandering Smicks are a threat, but are harmless when eating the turnips found throughout the phases, which the professor may pick up and move at will. A Smick crushed in a gate is worth 500 points. Bundles of dynamite are worth 100 points. Tens of seconds left on the clock after each level are worth 100 points, while the ones digit are worth 10 points. Five extra lives are supplied.
In this single-player mode, Professor Hector is sleepwalking, and the player controls only R.O.B. Commands need not be preceded by the Start button, as R.O.B. is controlled directly. The Professor starts at the left edge of the screen, and walks slowly toward the right side of the screen. If he hits a gate, he will just continue to walk straight into it until it moves out of his way. The player must use R.O.B. to move the gates, allowing the Professor to reach the right side of the screen. Smicks are present in this mode, but they mostly confine themselves to dead ends. There are 25 phases in this mode. Three extra lives are supplied.
Test mode serves only to confirm that the R.O.B. can receive signals via the television. Pressing select sends a signal that should cause his red LED to light up.
In this mode, no game is played. Commands are simply sent directly to R.O.B. First-time players or players who just want to operate R.O.B. without playing Gyromite can use this mode to deliver R.O.B.'s commands. Pressing up or down on the directional pad causes the arms to move up and down. Left and right make the arms swivel counter-clockwise and clockwise. The A button opens the arms, and the B button closes them.
Nintendo of America staff remembered their first impression of the newly imported robot and games. Don James laughed, "It was hard as hell! To play Gyromite, that was a very tough game to master, because R.O.B. didn't move very fast. So you really had to think two or three moves ahead to allow him to do what he was going to do."
The game ROM of Gyromite does not have localized versions for different regions, and this was taken advantage of to expedite manufacturing. Early releases of the cartridge contain a circuit board from the Japanese Famicom version of the game along with a cartridge adapter so it can be played on the North American and European NES. The internal cartridge adapter can be removed from affected copies of the game and used to play other Japanese Famicom games on the NES.
In 1987, Mark Seeley of Crash! magazine visited a toy fair in England to observe a playthrough of the two-year-old Gyromite, saying of the struggling demonstrator that he had "never seen anything so complicated and difficult in all my life".
In 2004, historian Chris Kohler remembers having been unimpressed with the R.O.B. setup, saying "it was immediately apparent that the maze barriers in Gyromite could be turned on and off just as easily by tapping the A and B buttons on a standard controller, which was all that R.O.B.'s complicated motions ended up doing".:214 In 2018, Owen S. Good of Polygon remembered his childhood experience and assessed the setup of Gyromite with R.O.B. as "a novel, if almost Rube Goldberg-esque way of 'playing' with its users ... that quickly got dull".
- "Iwata Asks - Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon". Retrieved February 23, 2017.
- Cifaldi, Frank (October 19, 2015). "In Their Words: Remembering the Launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System". IGN. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "VC&G | How to Tell if a Copy of Gyromite has a Famicom Adapter in it". vintagecomputing.com. Retrieved 2014-05-27.
- Seeley, Mark (March 1987). "Lasers Lasers Everywhere!". Crash!. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
I asked for a demonstration of this system using the robot assistant, and have never seen anything so complicated and difficult in all my life. The product manager assigned to do the demo was in real trouble - he had to keep talking at the same time as changing screens, moving the robot up and down, spinning the gyroscopes and moving the little man on the screen. Sounds like just the sort of game we could use for a reviewer's challenge...
- Kohler, Chris (2004). Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life. Indianapolis, IN: Brady Games. ISBN 0-7440-0424-1.
- Good, Owen S. (April 15, 2018). "A look back at some of Nintendo's strangest hardware and accessories". Polygon. Retrieved June 25, 2019.