Get the latest Education e-news
  • Game Design Challenge: The Return Of R.O.B.

    - staff
  •'s Game Design Challenge is an exercise in becoming a game developer, asking you to look at games in a new way -- from the perspective of a game creator, producer, marketer, businessperson, and so forth.

    Every other Wednesday we'll present you with a challenge about developing video games. You'll have two weeks to brainstorm a brilliant solution (see below for how to submit your answers). After the two week submission period elapses, the best answers and the names of those who submitted them will be posted.

    The Challenge

    Design a game that uses Nintendo's R.O.B. peripheral.

    Assignment Details

    Remember R.O.B.? The silly, robotic companion for the Nintendo Entertainment System? The unusual peripheral is often referenced in Nintendo games like Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., and WarioWare, though it hasn't had a game of its own in quite some time… Maybe it's time for R.O.B. to make a comeback.

    For those unfamiliar with this little robot, R.O.B. -- or the Robotic Operating Buddy -- was a peripheral released for the Nintendo entertainment system in 1985. Like the classic NES Zapper light-gun, R.O.B. was able to detect flashes on the television through its eyes, and could then pivot and move its arms in reaction to what it saw on screen.

    Back in the 1980s, R.O.B. only supported 2 games: Gyromite and Stack-Up . In Gyromite, players could instruct R.O.B. to pick up gyros that would eventually press buttons on a second NES controller, and in Stack-Up players would instruct ROB to rearrange colored discs into pre-determined patterns. 

    This video is a good showcase of what R.O.B. could do. You might notice that R.O.B. only moves when it detects brief, specific flash on-screen, much like the way the NES Zapper detects flashes to help you shoot things in Duck Hunt. These different flashes make ROB do different things. In the video, for example, he picks up a top-like gyro, spins it, and placed it on a pad, which then hits either the A or B button on the 2nd-player's gamepad.

    Another good reference is this video from James Rolfe as the Angry Video Game Nerd. It might be a parody, but it's also a great demonstration of both R.O.B. and its games.

    In essence, using R.O.B. is like having an automated second player that responds to what you do in-game! He might be a bit slow, sure, but that's all part of the fun -- and the challenge.

    And with only two games that support this odd peripheral, surely there are plenty of design ideas that have gone unexplored all this time.


    But now, you have a chance to give R.O.B. the heyday it deserves. What would you do if you were to create a new game that uses the quirky robotic peripheral? Feel free to get creative -- you can use as little or as many of R.O.B.'s functions as you like. You're even welcome to use other physical objects, or come up with new accessories if it helps you design.

    You can keep things simple, or come up with something completely out there! The only thing that matters is that R.O.B. somehow plays a role in your game's design.

    If you're looking for inspiration, feel free to expand upon the ideas introduced in Gyromite or Stack-Up! -- we'd love to see some of their ideas updated for a new generation.

    Good luck, and we can't wait to see R.O.B.'s triumphant return!

    To Submit

    Work on your ideas, figure out your strategy for coming up with a solution, and ask questions on the forum. When your submission is complete, send it to with the subject line "Design Challenge: The Return Of R.O.B." Please type your answer directly in the email body.

    Submissions should be no more than 500 words and may contain up to three images. Be sure to include your full name and school affiliation or job title.

    Entries must be submitted by Wednesday, August 8

    Results will be posted Tuesday, August 14

    Disclaimer: is not responsible for similarities between the content submitted to the Game Design Challenge and any existing or future products or intellectual property.



comments powered by Disqus