R.O.B. and Me

August 27, 2012

by — Posted in Personal Writing

Say hello to R.O.B.

 Ever since the NES was first announced I wanted a R.O.B. unit.   When I was saving my money to buy my first NES,  I almost saved the money to buy the deluxe set just so I could get R.O.B., but I decided on the action set.   The reasons were simple, the action set came with Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt.   The Deluxe set came with Duckhunt and Gyromite.   I didn’t want to have to buy Super Mario Bros. separately.   I also knew that R.O.B. wasn’t a great accessory.   I saved my money and continued my path into the world of the NES without R.O.B.  I would eventually regret that decision.

When I started collecting video games again about a decade ago I always searched for a R.O.B. unit.   Almost every time I would see one, he wasn’t complete.  That would have been fine, but he would go for over a hundred dollars.   I wasn’t comfortable buying him at that price without being complete. I knew once I managed to secure him, I would never track down the rest of the parts.   I waited until the next opportunity.   This last week the desire that started when I was twelve years old was fulfilled.

R.O.B. nameplate

While I was waiting on a transmission fluid change on the Jeep, I found a used video game store.   I wouldn’t say it was piled with retro games, but it had a decent selection.   It did have a Turbo Express, which I always wanted.   It also had a Sega Master system.   I purchased both.   I now have the complete NEC and almost the complete Sega lines (I believe I still need a Game Gear, but I’m not sure).   While they were ringing me up I asked if they had a R.O.B, unit in the back.

They said that they didn’t have one there.   They did however get one that was complete in the box at their other store.   They asked if I was interested.  I said it depended on the price (I was completely giddy inside at this moment).   They called the other store to see what the price was.   They quoted me $99.99 and asked if I was interested.   After I confirmed I was, and didn’t drool, they said they could get it in on Friday.  I couldn’t be happier that I was so close to ending a twenty-four year journey.

I ran over to the store on my lunch break Friday.   They hadn’t receive their transfers for yet.   I was disheartened, but returned to work.   Around four o’clock they called – it was in.  Immediately after work I headed to the store to see the prize.   The box was a little dinged up, but since I didn’t have a box it was better than nothing.    It only included the R.O.B. – no console, no Zapper, no games, and no controllers.   That was fine.

They opened the box and I saw R.O.B. in his glory with all of his accessories.   The styrofoam was in mint condition (something only a collector cares about).  It also included paperwork.   While I would have hoped the box would have been better, I had no problem parting with payment.   I took R.O.B. out to the car and headed home.


Front of the box

A week earlier a friend was telling me that someone came into his store and asked him what his NES was worth.   I guess the cables were all tore up and the system was a mess.   He did say that the box was in mint condition.   We were talking that the box was worth more than the console.   I said I would have paid fifty dollars on the spot for the box.   Who would have thought I would have my box a week later.

Top of the box

Around November of last year, I almost bought a complete NES console in the box with R.O.B. included.   The problem was that it was 300.00 and christmas shopping wasn’t done yet.  It wasn’t a good time to blow that money on myself.   It was a struggle, but since I had everything except the box and R.O.B. at home I passed.   Until this last week I was always hard on myself for letting that opportunity go.

Back of the box

Now I get to go through the task of making this box set complete.   I plan on keeping R.O.B. next to my desk as my own personal trophy.   I have an extra NES to put inside the box, but it’s damaged (so I may keep an eye out for a good condition one).   I purchased an extra Zapper when I was at the game store (I have maybe five of these).   I also have two extra controllers I can put inside the box.

Side of the box

The real problem is the games.  I have multiple copies of Gyromite.   This started about ten years ago when I found out that some copies of Gyromite included a Famicom (the Japanese version of the NES) adapter.  I have maybe five copies of Gyromite, and not one of them had the adapter inside of the cartridge.  This is easy to replace.

Worst side of the box

The real problem is Duck Hunt.  I have multiple copies of Duck Hunt, but they are on dual or triple cartridges with Super Mario Bros. or World Class Track Meet (the triple cartridge came with the power pad as the Sports Edition of the console, yes I have a power pad).  In all of my travels I’m not sure I saw a Duck Hunt solo cartridge.   I’m assuming it is rare since the only big influx are ones that came with the early Deluxe sets.  That is going to be fun to track down.

Mint condition styrofoam

When I saw the styrofoam for the first time on Friday, I was giddy.   It looked gorgeous.  I hadn’t seen mint condition NES styrofoam since I purchased my console in 1988.   It was a fantastic sight to see.   I do know that this is something that non-collectors can’t understand.

R.O.B. in the same position I first saw him

Opening up the box I saw the accessory pieces and R.O.B.   The only thing that could have made it better is if R.O.B. would have still been sealed in plastic (if he originally came in any).   If he would have, I may have had to be on the hunt again.   I don’t know if I could bear to remove him from plastic if he was still sealed.

Brightness filters

The box included the brightness filters for R.O.B. still sealed. These were included in case your television had too much brightness and R.O.B. could not register the flashes on the screen.  I would have just turned down my brightness, but Nintendo was kind enough to include this filter so you didn’t have to.

Mini nintendo box in the box

R.O.B. was included with the NES as a stealth attack in America.   Because of video game crash of the mid eighties that irreparably harmed Atari, Coleco, Intellivision, and others, retailers didn’t want to carry video games.   They thought video games were dead.   By including R.O.B., Nintendo marketed the console as a toy and “entertainment system” and not a video game console.   Obviously Nintendo’s strategy worked since the NES became the dominant system.

NES instructions guide

 One of the issues with R.O.B. is that he requires a CRT television to work.   I still have an old twenty-seven inch that we don’t use, but our other two TV’s are flat screen.   Because of this limitation I may never actually play a game with R.O.B.   That isn’t extremely heart breaking to me, but who knows how he is going to take it.

There were only two games that R.O.B. could play anyways.   The first one is Gyromite.  The second one is called Stack Up.   Stack Up came with its own setup pieces, so the challenge is to find one of those complete also.   The joys of hunting down and collecting all the missing pieces to fill in the gaps.   Neither of the games are considered very good.   I’m not missing much but not actually playing them.

Certificate of Authenticity by Nintendo

After the initial launch of the Deluxe package of the NES, Nintendo stopped supporting R.O.B. No more games would be released.   I understand that there was at least one more game that was beta tested inside of Nintendo.   I think a ROM exists it of it online.   Even if we count that, paying fifty extra dollars for R.O.B., not getting Super Mario Bros. in the box, and only having one more game you could purchase was part of the reason buying the Deluxe package wasn’t worth the extra money.

Large Nintendo poster – I used to have one of these on my wall

Over the years R.O.B. has had cameo appearances in other games.   Every time it is a joy to see him.  It’s like the easter egg that keeps on giving.   Most people today don’t even know who R.O.B. is.   It’s a forgotten piece of video game lore.

Beautiful photoelectric eyes

When I posted the first couple pictures of him on my Facebook account reactions were all over the place.   One person thought it was a Johnny Five.   I guess with the eyes I can understand it that.   It also leads to the other mistaken identity on a different picture – Wall-E.   Wall-E can’t hold a candle to R.O.B., I would like to see Wall-E play Gyromite with a skill.  Once again it all in the design of those robotic eyes that have been used in multiple robot designs.   Poor R.O.B., he doesn’t get the pop culture fandom he deserves.

Having a staring contest with R.O.B.

One R.O.B. myth that I believed for years was that he could play the first level of Super Mario Bros.   Tracking down a FAQ, I can’t find any mention of this ability.   It’s kind of disheartening, but it was something I never checked up on before (not having a unit of my own).  I’m sure there are many other myths about R.O.B. in the dark corners online, but I’m sure almost all of them are false.

All his robotic glory

The one thing I never truly realized is that R.O.B is wireless.   I just assumed that he had a cable to plug into the console.   He is completely self-contained and runs on 4 AA batteries.   When you turn him on without an NES setup, he will turn right and then back to center.   After testing his movements I removed the batteries.  I didn’t want to forget about them and discover corrosion in a few years.

R.O.B. and I signing off

Since there is no wire, I’m considering taking R.O.B. to strange places for him to pose.   Since he won’t be doing any gaming, he might as well see the world.   We’ll see if there are more R.O.B. posts in the future.  I may even get some other Nintendo ones out in short order.   Until then, I’m going to enjoy pretending I’m a lucky twelve-year-old some more.


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