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.
Game Career Guide challenged its readers to create an original game featuring Nintendo's R.O.B. What follows are the best and most original entries we received. Here are our top picks.
Ben Droste, Senior Environment Artist, RoboArena (see page 2)
Pedro Miguel Honório Silva, Senior Software Developer at Global Betting Exchange in Dublin, Ireland, DJ R.O.B. (see page 3)
Brendan Gilbert, Independent Game Designer, R.O.B. Noire (see page 4)
Huy Luu Quang, Unemployed Game Designer, Me After (see page 5)