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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
NES
PUBLISHER:
Nintendo
DEVELOPER:
Nintendo
GENRE: Platformer
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
October 18, 1985
ESRB RATING:
Not Rated
IN THE SERIES
Stack-Up

RELATED GAMES
Gyromite
Stack-Up
 Written by Chris Reiter  on October 12, 2006

Special: If Bill Murray were alive today, he'd be rolling in his grave if he knew R.O.B. was his imitative stand-in. Oh wait, there he is shooting a movie about grave rolling. Roll baby, roll!


Robots are people too. They can simulate any emotion that comes to mind, plus they can shoot laser beams out of their eyes. Laser beams! Okay, so maybe this story has nothing to do with a robot's rights for humanity like in Bicentennial Man. This story you're about to hear is about a robot named R.O.B., who in every corner of the Earth has gone unloved by all. That is until today. Today is a new day for R.O.B., your neighborhood friendly Robotic Operating Buddy.

R.O.B. is despondant over the way his life has turned out. He felt used by his buddy Nestor and he hasn't been able to find work, beyond a bit part here and there, in years. It's R.O.B.'s visit to his regular psychiatrist, Dr. Leon Martin, where things will take a turn for the worse... for the psychiatrist.

Dr. Leon Martin: R.O.B., I told you last week already that I'm taking a summer vacation away from the office. Why must you insist on coming in when our usual appointment has been put aside until September?

R.O.B.: Yet you are here, Doc-tor. Are you not?

Dr. Leon: Yes, I am here R.O.B. But the reason I'm in today is to pack up a few last minute things for the trip.

R.O.B.: Like what, Doc-tor?

Dr. Leon: Items of significance that shouldn't be any of a patient's concern. Now unless you care to explain why you are here as quickly as possible in the brief time I have before I exit the office, please leave.

R.O.B.: Nobody loves me, Doc-tor Leon Martin. I have trouble computing. I have trouble consuming electricity. Please help me.

Dr. Leon: Look...I'll do this for you since we've already established about a thousand times that video gamers didn't want you then, and neither does anyone else. I'll give you a free copy of my new book called "Baby Steps." It talks troubled individuals through the steps they should take to get back on track. Read that and you should be fine.

R.O.B.: Thank you, Doc-tor. You are a genius.

But just as Doctor Martin dropped R.O.B. like a bad habit, little did he realize it was far over for him and soon to be his family too. You see, R.O.B. did some reading that night. He studied Dr. Martin's book page for page, word for word, and in the morning R.O.B. showed up at Dr. Martin's house just as the family was about to skedaddle.

Dr. Leon: R.O.B.! What the hell are you doing here?!

R.O.B.: Your book, Doc-tor. It said that if one is to become sane again, they must find closure with their family. Nintendo shot at me as I approached their offices, and you're the only other someone I know. I thought you'd permit me to join your family this summer and really connect.

Dr. Leon: The book is 739 pages long!

R.O.B.: My mechanical internal systems allow me to scan at an accelerated rate, much faster than your human eyes can.

Kay Martin: Who's this honey?

Dr. Leon: This hunk of junk? This here is R.O.B., and he was just leaving.

Kay: But I overheard you two talking, and think that it sounds like a lovely idea to let this poor soul stay with us having no family of his own.

Edmund Martin: Yeah Dad, can R.O.B. come with us to the lake house? You promised I could have a friend this year after you got me that lame orange sweater last year. I got beat up so many times for wearing it, the hospital almost had you arrested for premeditated murder.

Hannah Martin: If you don't bring this weird looking Johnny 5 knockoff with us Dad, I'm going to kill myself!

Dr. Leon: What?! You're all nuts! We are NOT taking R.O.B. with us. He is a patient of mine, and patients are prohibited from spending time with their doctors outside the office. It would violate the patient-doctor privileges act of 1959.

Kay: Oh come on, sweetheart. If you bring him, I'll cut up all my credit cards.

Dr. Leon: Done!

Over the long summer months that R.O.B. stayed with the Martins, things became much worse for Dr. Leon Martin. In his mind, R.O.B. was made into an enemy he obsessed over constantly as each attempt he tried getting rid of him backfired. And the more the doctor pushed him away, the closer his family became with the machine. R.O.B. simply drove Leon Martin mad to the point where we now focus on him sitting comatosely in a wheelchair at the wedding of R.O.B. and Dr. Leon's sister, Mili Martin.

Minister: And do you R.O.B. um...let's see, do you have a last name?

R.O.B.: I was not manufactured with one. Once Mili and I are interlocked, I will inherit hers.

*Dr. Leon's legs begin to shake*

Minister: Whatever. And do you Mili Martin take R.O.B. soon-to-be Martin as your loyal and loving husband, till death or disassembly take you apart?

Mili Martin: I do.

*Dr. Leon's hands tremble*

Minister: By the powers vested in me, you may kiss the bride.

Dr. Leon: NOOOO! *Dr. Leon leaps out of his chair*

But it was too late. The explosive device rigged to go off if R.O.B. ever got close enough to anyone, which Dr. Leon himself installed to destroy R.O.B.'s happiness, just killed both the bride and her groom. After painting the church red with Dr. Leon's sister's blood, he was dragged to jail for premeditated murder. He now has his own psychiatrist, who just so happens to be going on vacation soon. And guess who's coming?

R.O.B.'s Chapter in History
You've read the fiction. Now listen to the truth about The Robotic Operating Buddy. Better known as R.O.B., he was Nintendo's ticket to selling their NES system here in the United States. In a way, gamers' everywhere have R.O.B. to thank for keeping this hobby, this lifestyle, alive. When the NES came to market over here, the 'Crash of '83' had happened. For a variety of reasons, customers were losing interest in gaming consoles. One such reason was the ad campaign for the Commodore 64, a personal computer (which played games) with a point to make. "Why buy your child a video game and distract them from school when you can buy them a home computer that will prepare them for college?" That was its question, and what a theme it was. It was especially an important inquiry then when consumers were drowning in a flood of multiple gaming consoles. Gaming wasn't as easy as it is today when you only have three major competitor's tied in the race. People were getting fed up, especially with a list of crappy games that were supposed to live up to the hype. Does E.T. ring any bells?

The short of it is, Nintendo had to persuade retailers who refused to sell video game hardware that R.O.B. made the NES more than a video game machine -- it made it a robot toy superset. This was Nintendo's sneaky Trojan horse tactic in action. The NES could be purchased in its standard Control Deck set for $199, or in a $250 Deluxe Set that was packaged with the system and a lightgun, two games (Duck Hunt and Gyromite), and of course R.O.B. For fifty dollars more, people actually wanted it all. They wanted to play with a real-life robot that would function directly with their games. But the idea of R.O.B. being an essential addition all fizzled as soon as people found out how lame he really was. There were two games R.O.B. was specifically designed for: those being Gyromite and Stack-Up. With these titles, the TV would beam signals into R.O.B.'s circuitry via optical flashes. You would have to input commands as "okays" and such when R.O.B. would finish with his gyro spinning and block stacking. This all tied into an honor system, meaning the games were meant to be played in the ideal sense that you not play the game without accommodating to R.O.B.'s slower movements. He could clutch items with his retractable hands and rotate his head and arms around, but the games designed to perpetrate his being there weren't particularly entertaining with him in tow. That is why to this day R.O.B. is considered one of the greatest failures gaming history knows.

Yet R.O.B. lives on in a way. He has made cameo appearances in a handful of games, including StarTropics, Star Fox 64 and the WarioWare series. And players of Mario Kart DS know him as one of the best racers the title has to offer. So while R.O.B. may never be a famous robot ever again, he has emerged as one of Nintendo's iconic characters and so he'll always keep gamers asking What About R.O.B.?



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