Mr. R.O.B.oto

Must disassemble possum!

Must disassemble possum!

As anyone who was born during the 70’s will tell you, the 1980’s were a fucking awesome tuesday tvtime to grow up in.  We could ride in the back of pickup trucks, go outside without having to wear a helmet or a leash, and were able to carry on an entire conversation with one of our friends without ever using a single acronym.  And let me tell you, we didn’t need to have our fingers glued to some fancy ass portable computer disguised as a cellular phone… nosiree.  When we wanted to waste the entire day away without doing anything remotely productive, we whipped out the greatest invention for curing boredom since Cain created masturbation… the Nintendo Entertainment System.  You can keep your Playstations, your X Boxes, your digital crack apps Facebook hopelessly addicts you to knowing you’ll drain Junior’s college fund buying more lives… the NES was the greatest gaming device EVER.

OK, OK, I know what you’re saying…. it wasn’t that great, and that commercial from 1987 preserves the fact that even the geniuses who let us play with Mario, Link and Samus in the comfort of our own homes made a few mistakes along the way.

Besides the comedic and confusing Engrish.

Besides the comedic and confusing Engrish.

Of course, I’m talking about that clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk that looks like a reject from Short Circuit, R.O.B…

Hi, I'm Super Creepy R.O.B. Robot, and I have Nintendo!

Hi, I’m Super Creepy R.O.B. Robot, and I have Nintendo!

R.O.B. was one of a handful of “peripherals” that were available in more expensive deluxe NES sets when the system first hit the American market in the mid 80’s.  A Nintendo peripheral is what the business world more commonly refers to as an “add-on.”  You know how when you go to Pokey Lube to get your oil changed since they’re a lot cheaper than your regular service shop, and then the guy making minimum wage comes out with a laundry list of other things he found wrong with the car, like your battery is corroded beyond what a little Coca Cola could clear up, or your brand new windshield wipers you just bought suddenly seem to be worn down to the nub…. shit like that.  You came to get a damn oil change, and now they’re trying to hit you up for shit you didn’t plan on splurging for.  Those are add-ons, which is how every smart business in the world makes their money.  Pokey Lube rakes in millions of dollars a year changing windshield wipers that could already clear the barnacles off the Titanic’s window.  Nintendo made millions of dollars selling a useless robot peripheral to kids who LOVED robots…

If only you could take the batteries out of your neighbor's dog...

If only you could take the batteries out of your neighbor’s dog…

R.O.B. stands for Robotic Operating Buddy, and that’s exactly what he was marketed as… a cybertronic pal you could play Nintendo with on those days when your other friends actually wanted to get some fresh air before school started again.  This device for the socially impaired was basically an overly complex contraption made to press buttons on the second player controller.  Imagine the game Mouse Trap, only instead of trying to build the most ridiculous device ever to catch a plastic mouse before your three year old brother put it in his mouth and choked to death… you were instead building a virtual friend whose only practical purpose was to operate the other controller.  It must have sucked to be an only child…

Don't do it, dear, or you'll be stuck playing with battery operated devices your whole life.

Don’t do it, dear, or you’ll be stuck playing with battery operated devices your whole life.

So what if kids needed a robot to play a two player game with them, you say.  It will prepare them for a future of introversion and learning to take pleasure from inanimate objects.  Valid point…. only there’s a lot of games you can play with a dildo or a blow up doll (or so I’ve heard, of course).  R.O.B., on the other hand, is limited to only being capable of playing two of the shittiest games Nintendo ever released from its digital sweatshop, Gyromite and Stack Up.  Fuck, at least the Zapper was good for three halfway decent games…

Even R.O.B. would have wanted to shoot the damn dog.

Even R.O.B. would have wanted to shoot the damn dog.

No doubt you think I’m being too hard on ol’ R.O.B… and just to spite me, you’re gonna dig your old plastic buddy out of the same box you stuffed Teddy Ruxpin and Rainbow Brite  in and indulge in a little robot block stacking.  Yeah, good luck.  Unless you’re still living in the 2000’s, R.O.B.’s just going to sit there and shrug his mechanical shoulders at you.  That’s because the cathode ray tubes that dominated the television industry during the majority of the boob tube’s eight decade existence were made almost instantly obsolete within the last few years by LCD and plasma screens.  And… you guessed it, R.O.B. was made to pick up his signals only from CRT screens.  Unless you’re an expert in robot telepathy, your little gaming buddy is now only useful as a doorstop or as a prop to hold a tray full of hors d’oeurves…

Don't cry. You'll just rust and I'll have to take you to Pokey Lube.

Don’t cry. You’ll just rust and I’ll have to take you to Pokey Lube.

R.O.B. is a prime example of how creating technology just for the sake of creating technology is rarely a good idea.  Just like kids today can text a 50,000 word novel on a tiny, virtual keyboard in less time than some adults can figure out how to accept a call, children in the 80’s could master the art of playing with both controllers at the same time.  We didn’t need a fucking slowass robot to very deliberately respond to our demands and take its sweet time spinning tops and stacking blocks just to perform the same button pressing function we could do instantly by keeping the other controller in our laps next to the bag of Cheetos.  Hell, if this was the best robotic technology of the 80’s could do, our fear of the machines taking over the world back then was pretty unfounded…

Stand still Sarah Connor while I move my robotic appendage to spin this top that will press the button that will fire this gun that will blow your.... hey, come back bitch!!!

Stand still Sarah Connor while I slowly move my robotic appendage to spin this top that will press the button that will move my finger that will squeeze the trigger that will fire this gun that will blow your…. hey, come back bitch!!!

Not all robots could be as useful Rosie, Johnny Five and the Bionic Woman were.  Sometimes, a machine’s just better for use as spare Cuisinart parts rather than whatever its pre-programmed function is.  But for turning child pleasing parents into cash spending automatrons just to give their spawn a playmate that is too slow operating to bully them, we at The Nest give Nintendo a 21 Zapper salute for giving us the people’s peripheral, R.O.B. the Robot!  Maybe you couldn’t help us beat Bowser, Dr. Wily or even Glass Joe… but at least you were there to inanimately support us while we continually got our asses handed to us by those Eggplant Wizards in Kid Icarus.

R.O.B. is slowly stacking a block to trigger his giggle function as we speak...

R.O.B. is slowly stacking a block to press the button that triggers his giggle function as we speak…


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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23 Responses to Mr. R.O.B.oto

  1. I sadly never had such a R.O.B. so I had to torture my nintendo boy alone… I once missed an exam and came more than an hour too late… but hey, I killed Bowser that day!

  2. draliman says:

    Wait, so if CRTs were to unexpectedly make a comeback, millions of discarded ROBs will suddenly come to life in wardrobes (=”closets”, not sure if it’s a UK word, that) everywhere and take over the world?

    • They could… but they would be veeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrry slow at doing it.

      Wardrobe for closet is rare, but not unheard of here. I think it was more common prior to my generation…

  3. Merbear74 says:

    I love the 80’s. Did you know that I could beat Super Mario 2 in 45 minutes? True story.
    My bro and I would spend countless hours in front of our Nintendo. Those were the best days of my life, man. Totally.
    I had a mad crush on Short Circuit.

    • Our 6th grade teacher brought in Short Circuit for us to watch near the end of the school year. He even apologized for the small handful of dirty words in it… not that they were anything I hadn’t heard before.

  4. You must have been spying on my conversation on the (not cell) phone with my best friend last night. We were saying how our kids can text on phones at 100 miles an hour and by the time we figure out what the text they just sent is and how to read it, they sent 20 more, which we either (a) lose while trying to answer, or (b) give up and ignore them entirely. I favor (b).

    But I LOVED my Nintendo. Had on in Israel and I became, for a couple of year, THE top Space Invader champion. I could play forever, endless until finally, the need to go to the bathroom overcame my curiosity at how long I could actually play. I never did find out. As far as I could tell, I could keep playing forever as long as I could stay awake.

    Ah. Those were the days, my friend.

    I didn’t have one of those robotic pals, but I still have a Robbie that talks, shuffles a few steps, then falls over. That’s gotta mean something.

    • A robot that talks, shuffles and falls over sounds so cute! And more proof that the machines will never completely take over (Even if the texting kids do someday)….

  5. ody & biskit……we iz havin a super mario brotherz momint heer :

    de food servizz gurlz older than hell it self….. N her tried ta play mario brotherz…TRIED bee in de operative werd

    …her could never get past level 6….sew her took de game inta werk, gave it two a co werker two take home, sew her daughter could get de game ta level 7…..

    de daugher who getted it two level 7 waz

    FIVE YEERZ OLD ~~~~ !!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

    • A five year old was also necessary to properly hook up the video game set to the TV. I remember being that kid that knew how to do everything…now I can’t even touch a smartphone screen without it going completely haywire…

  6. Quirky Girl says:

    I have every single Nintendo system ever made, with the exception of Game Cube. And yet, I didn’t know about ROB was until I played Super Smash on the Wii. :/

    • They made a huge deal about ROB very early in the original NES’s release, and then kinda kept quiet about him once people realized how much of a ripoff he was. I guess they liked him enough to turn him into a video game character, though… his first appearance was in the original Startropics game. That and its sequel Zoda’s Revenge are two of the most awesome, under the radar games for the NES!

  7. gentlestitches says:

    I had heard of this robot but the boy had. Love the gamer cartoon. 😀

  8. Trisha says:

    We were too poor for add-ons or deluxe sets. My mom probably bought my brother’s first Nintendo used, several years after they first came out. I’m not sure anyone in my little valley had Nintendos as early as 1987. We probably still had some 8-tracks in use then….

  9. The joy (or not) of being a female with a female sibling meant we didn’t get these sorts of things until we were old enough to have jobs and buy our own. I feel we both missed out greatly.

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