225: Notorious R.O.B.

Notorious R.O.B.

Nowadays it's assumed that Mario has always been Nintendo's chief mascot. But for a brief period in the mid-'80s, that duty fell to an unlikely character: Nintendo's Robotic Operating Buddy. Sam Machkovech explains what went wrong with the ill-fated robot, and how his influence nonetheless lives on in modern games.

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Thank you very much for the article. My understanding of gaming history has possibly just doubled. I had no idea. By the way, I've read The Stranger. You need to think about moving to another paper. I remember an article about how the author's Tai Chi was vastly superior to someone else's imposter Tai Chi. Don't mean to bash, but come now.

This article makes me want to dig our old R.O.B. out of my sister's old closet at my parents house, but I fear it would take me a week to sort it out from all the actual junk that was never sold, donated, or thrown away.
I think I'll check out eBay to see what they're selling for. That might make it worth digging out.

Edit: Only $51.00. Not worth it right now.

Thank you for making this a fun read for those familiar with the history already. The bit about him watching us when we play other peripheral-based games was great.

Growing up, R.O.B. meant two things to me.

1) Awesome
2) Money

That is, he seemed so incredibly awesome to me, but as my family never had too much money, I'd never have him. When I later learned only two games supported him, I was happy and sad. Happy that I hadn't wasted any money on him, but sad that he never panned out.

I remember him being R.O.B. 64 in Starfox 64...

Part of me wishes they'd do a "retro" release of R.O.B. like a lot of G.I.Joe, Star Wars and Transformers toys are getting, but most collectors grabbing one likely wouldn't even have known about it when they were kids (I myself vaguely knew of the thing, as a friend owned one but never used it. I more remember putting on the power glove, trying to get it to work, and then shrugging assuming it was just broken).

As for peripherals, I think more than anything else R.O.B. is a sign that Nintendo has always been about doing video games differently. The Nintendo DS and Wii come as no shock as their early days were filled with attempts to get players doing more than using a control pad. It's just that technology has finally reached a point where their ambitions can be made closer to reality.

What would be really cool is if they developed a new variation of R.O.B. to be an A.I. second player that could help you out in co-op games, but the amount of R&D required for that in a game is likely to be astronomical. A developer would have to include their own code for R.O.B. to make use of, and that could easily just be too costly to invest in. Still, one day it may become a possibility.

My family was way too poor for both a computer and an NES, so we had a computer.

I like to think my ability to school anyone on old school jeopardy! or wheel of fortune has paid off nicely...yeah, that's it.

To be honest, after reading two pages I skipped to your conclusion. Your title and the picture that come with this article are great though.

WHOA ROB I haven't see that guy in like forever! I mean I know he gets a few cameos now, but I haven't seen anyone talk about the orginal in a while

i can't but wonder how many gaming crisises there were in past and are going to be in future, because the actual course has been shitstorm since 2006.

I should plug some batteries in mine and see if he still works. Despite coming from the Atari era of home games the NES hold my fondest memories of console gaming...mostly from me cutting a LOT of school to play Zelda or Metroid at my buddy's house. Good times...good times...

Gods, just imagen what the world would be like today if this had have failed & not jsut the world of gamin, I mean the whole world // Film, music & publishing would be different, Hell even the internet its self would be changed

Thank you R.O.B


Hes in brawl.

What exactly did a 'R.O.B' do?

Modern toy-grade robotics technology can do a much better R.O.B. today

Shoot; between modern wi-fi, voice recognition, and beyond toy-grade robotics, they could build a mini Johnny 5 actively aware of your gameplay you could (more or less) converse with.

I had R.O.B. What a piece of crap. But really, thank you R.O.B. for getting parents to trust video games again enough to buy the NES for millions of kids.

Rob the robot Japanese commercial

R.O.B. was quickly replaced in my house by my little brother who, although in many ways more annoying, could very quickly open and close barriers and didn't need to spin up tops or stack little blocks (yes, we wound up getting both games) to be my sidekick. Heck, the games were so slow paced you could easily manipulate both controllers.

R.O.B. was definitely a gimmick to make people think there was added value and that this wasn't just an updated Colecovision or Atari. While a dismal failure, I always like seeing things written about him as he has a place in home gaming history and now there's a whole generation of gamers who don't even realize he existed.


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