R.O.B. the Robot: Video Games Unsung Hero

The Video Game Industry Crash

Between 1983 and 1985, the video game industry was dying. Revenues were in a freefall dropping a whopping 97%. Old guards like Atari and Coleco were on their last legs and it looked like video games consoles and cartridges were about to disappear from store shelves forever. The industry needed a savior.


credit: Nintendo and facebook.com/gamemasterhoward

Enter R.O.B. the Robot.

In 1985, the new kid on the block Nintendo made an attempt to turn things around and reassure retailers that video games could be a viable market. R.O.B. was made to appeal to kids and get attention for it’s fledgling NES console. Short for Robotic Operating Buddy, R.O.B. was an accessory that received commands via a sensor in the robot’s head. It had no connection to the NES itself as optical flashes from the TV would make him move his head and arms.

ROB only interacted with two games, Gyromite (which came with the robot) and Stackup. R.O.B. didn’t last long as no more games were ever made for it. To be honest, it was clunky, slow and lost its novelty after a few uses.


R.o.b. the Robot Nintendo - YellRobot
credit: Nintendo

“They asked for R.O.B. but fell in love with Mario”

Believe it or not, R.O.B. did exactly what it was meant to do. It got eyes and more importantly kids hands on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Kids couldn’t resist begging their parents to bring home R.O.B. the Robot which along with the zapper was packaged with the NES.   As things turned out R.O.B. was usually put in the back of the closet after a few uses, but kids (and adults) ended up religiously playing the NES for years.

R.O.B. hasn’t been completely in hiding over the years. He’s appeared in games like Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros, Starfox, and MarioKart., introducing himself to a whole new generation of gamers.

R.o.b. the Robot Nintendo - YellRobot
credit: Nintendo

A Forgotten Hero

Today, the video game industry is worth nearly $138 billion and Nintendo along with Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation are household names in virtually part of the world. While Mario, Zelda, and Sonic have become cultural icons, R.O.B. has been largely forgotten. That’s a shame because without the lovable clunky robot lighting the spark, the video game industry would not be the goliath it is today.

credit: Nintendo


Check out our article about Speech Recognition in Video Games