An American Robotic Operating Buddy (R.O.B.)
|Series||R.O.B. video games|
|First game||Gyromite (1985)|
|Created by||Gunpei Yokoi|
For information on ROB from the Star Fox series, see ROB 64.
R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy) is a robot that could substitute for a second player in the Nintendo Entertainment System games Stack-Up and Gyromite. The short-lived accessory did not prove to be popular, leading Nintendo to cancel it. In the following years R.O.B. would remain alive in Nintendo's video games, however, appearing as a playable character in Mario Kart DS and Super Smash Bros. Brawl and making several cameo appearances in titles such as StarTropics, the WarioWare games, Pikmin 2 and more.
The AccessoryThe R.O.B., or Robotic Operating Buddy (ファミリーコンピュータ ロボット) in Japan, was built primarily in response to the North American Video Game Crash of 1983. Nintendo planned to convince retailers that the Nintendo Entertainment System, which they wanted to market in the United States, wasn't a video game system but was rather a toy. To do this, they introduced R.O.B., a playful accessory for the NES that would interact with the system and play alongside the gamer. It proved successful, though upon the system's release players were less interested in R.O.B. as retailers were, and it ultimately fell short when compared to popular NES games such as Super Mario Bros. and even other accessories like the NES Zapper.
Prior to the system's release, Nintendo of America conducted a focus group where they brought in kids to see what they thought of R.O.B. The response wasn't as favorable as Nintendo had hoped. The Nintendo executives did not take the response seriously, certain that it would be one of the focal points of the systems. They were proven wrong, with R.O.B. only being supported by two official video games, Stack-Up and Gyromite.
R.O.B.'s appearance differed in Japan and North America. In each region, Nintendo designed R.O.B. to match the Nintendo Entertainment System or Famicom's colors. In Japan R.O.B. was red and white, while in every other region it was black and gray. No cords are required for the operation of R.O.B. (except for the one connecting it to the system); instead, the accessory runs on four AA batteries.
The compatible games communicate to it through optical flashes that appear on the screen that R.O.B. is able to "see". These on screen flashes activate R.O.B., causing him to perform numerous simple actions. Nintendo used a similar system with the NES Zapper: when the player clicked the trigger, the TV screen turned black for a split second save for a small white box that replaced the duck in Duck Hunt. If the NES Zapper sensed the white box, then it would result in a win for the player.
Gyromite was the first game to use R.O.B. They were bundled together as an attempt to get people to buy video games after the video game crash of 1983. The goal in the game is to guide Professor Hector through his lab so that he can pick up all the dynamite before they exploded. There are also dangerous lizards called Smicks that Professor Hector had to avoid. However, his path through the rooms is hindered by red and blue gates, and this is where R.O.B is needed.
By pressing Start on the controller, the player can give commands to R.O.B. He has to move gyro discs from their starting point to the right colored pedestal, and then the same colored gates will open. Sometimes both gates needs to be opened at the same time, and as R.O.B. only can press on one of the pedestals at a time he will need to have one of the gyro discs spin on their pedestal to stay in place. To make the disc spin it will have to be moved to the Gyro spinner and it can then be dropped on the pedestal.
In Game B Professor Hector is sleepwalking, and the player only controls R.O.B. This time the goal is to guide Hector safely through the room by opening the gates at the right time.
Stack-Up was the second and last game to be compatible with R.O.B. In this game R.O.B. is equipped with five blocks and a base where the blocks are placed. There are various game modes but all have the same general idea; to move the blocks from their stating places to the goal placement. This is done by moving Professor Hector on a 3x3 grid with instruction buttons which gives different commands to R.O.B.
Mario Kart DS
R.O.B. is an unlockable character in the Nintendo DS video game Mario Kart DS (unlocked by completing all of the GPS levels). In the game he is the only character outside of the Mario series to appear. He is classified as "heavy" and thus is placed in the same category as Bowser, Donkey Kong and Wario. One of his vehicles (which later in the game can be used by all characters) greatly resembles the accessories which were included alongside R.O.B. in Stack-Up. R.O.B.'s other vehicle (besides its standard one) is unique to the game, not being directly influenced by any of the previous games.
Mario Kart DS is so far the only Mario Kart game that R.O.B. appeared in, being omitted in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7. R.O.B. has the distinguishing factor as being the first character outside the Mario series to appear in a Mario Kart game. Since Mario Kart DS, several characters not from the Mario series have appeared in the Mario Kart series, including the Miis in Mario Kart Wii and numerous Namco Bandai characters in Mario Kart Arcade GP (Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and Blinky) and its sequel Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 (Tamagotchi).
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
R.O.B. happens to be a playable character in the Wii video game Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where he retains his original Japanese colors. Most of his moves, excluding his Gyro, is exclusive to the game and have no real reference points. To unlock R.O.B., one must either earn a total of 250 trophies, play 160 Brawls, or get him to join your party in the Subspace Emissary mode. R.O.B.'s final smash is called Diffusion Beam. Apart from his two trophies there are also three stickers featuring R.O.B.
In the Subspace Emissary, it was revealed that the Ancient Minister was actually being forced to make bombs by Tabuu. Once Ganondorf took control of the R.O.B. Squad, they ignited the Ancient Minister in flames, thus revealing that he is, in fact, a R.O.B. unit. Following this, he was no longer under the control of Tabuu and thus joined the heroes' party.
The following are R.O.B.'s trophy descriptions:
- "R.O.B. sporting his Famicom colors. R.O.B. debuted in Japan as Robot in 1985 as an add-on for the Famicom. He could be combined with a "gyro set," etc. for two types of play. The player controlled Professor Hector, the TV emitted light, and R.O.B. responded to the light by moving. At the time, it was epoch-making game play. Recently, R.O.B. appeared in Mario Kart DS."
Final Smash (Diffusion Beam)
- "R.O.B.'s Final Smash. He emits a beam from his eyes that spreads across the spectrum and undulates in great variety as it travels. What makes this technique different is R.O.B.'s ability to move while using it. This allows him to use it in combination with his other moves to increase his Final Smash's effectiveness."
- Game Boy Camera: The twenty sixth image in the B Album is R.O.B.
- Star Tropics: The Sub-C submarine's navigational computer is based off R.O.B.
- Star Fox 64: ROB 64 pilots the Great Fox while the team is flying, and sends supplies and hints. Also, the boss of Sector X resembles R.O.B.
- Kirby's Dream Land 3: In Sand Canyon's Level 6 you must find all the parts to R.O.B. and reunite him with the Professor.
- WarioWare Inc.: One of the micro games is based on Gyromite and includes R.O.B.
- F-Zero GX: On the first Port Town stage, you can see R.O.B. in his red and white color loading cargo. R.O.B. also appears in the Port Areo Drive stage of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
- Pikmin 2: 6 of the pieces you have to find are parts of R.O.B, one is his head, and the rest of them are gyro blocks.
- WarioWare: Twisted!: R.O.B. can be seen in 9-Volt's room.
- WarioWare: Touched!: R.O.B. appears in 9-Volt's boss micro game.
- WarioWare: Smooth Moves: R.O.B. is the boss in 9-Volt's level.
To accomidate televisions with brighter screens, a brightness filter was released for R.O.B. with all his releases. This was a shaded piece of two-sided tape attatched to a piece of protective paper. Once seperated, they could be affixed to R.O.B.'s "eyes" to improve reception.
In Gamespy's top twenty five smartest moves in gaming history, R.O.B. was placed at number five. In the January 2006 issue of Wired, R.O.B. was placed as the forty fifth best robot ever. For a time, R.O.B. had a segment in the IGN podcast Gamescoop!, where people "called in" and asked R.O.B. questions. It is believed that ROB was voiced by Hilary Goldstein of the IGN Xbox team. In Mario Kart DS, in the American and European versions have R.O.B. while in the Korean and Japanese versions they have HVC-012, the original Famicom robot.
On page 70 of Nintendo Power V232 and Official Nintendo Magazine 34, which featured a Mushroom Wars preview, a R.O.B. can be seen in the background as a minor cameo by the artist. It's unknown whether the developers of the game were given permission by Nintendo to use R.O.B. (the American model was used in the artwork).
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Famicom Disk System
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