Power Glove —> Wii Remote…. Power Pad —> Balance Board… NES Zapper —> Wii Zapper… R.O.B. —> ???
We are in a robot mood this week at Kotaku, the kind of mood that can make us miss the robots of yesteryear. Robots like R.O.B., the robot so cool that he could play the Nintendo Entertainment System with you.
Given Nintendo's current zeal for selling peripherals and my theory that the company is systematically reinventing each of its old-school oddball controllers for the Wii, I asked some of the bigger fans of Nintendo past to theorize on what a R.O.B. of the present — a Wii R.O.B. — would be all about.
Kevin Cassidy, site director, Go Nintendo: "I picture a Wii-ifed R.O.B. being some sort of daily affirmation automaton. With Nintendo putting out so many health-conscious games, who better than R.O.B. to tell you that you're doing a great job?
"He could wheel over to the TV while you're going about your Wii Fit regiment, and then compliment you on how great your lunges are. Of course, he could play a more active part in your exercises by holding your feet down for sit-ups/upper half down for leg-lifts. Equally important, R.O.B. would be the one to tell you to take a break from gaming every 20 minutes. If you didn't comply, he would use his laser eyes to power down your Wii. If you try to jump back into a game, R.O.B. may be forced to turn those eyes on you.
"While all those things are nice, R.O.B. would serve a much greater purpose. He would be able to store all your other Wii peripherals! R.O.B. would strap your balance board onto his back, attach your Wii Wheels to his own treads, pop your MotionPlus accessories into his chest, grab your WiiSpeak for voice-activation, and fire off your Zapper at anyone that gets in his way. Sorry, there's nothing he can do with those bulky, third party guitar and drum sets."
Jon Gibson, founder I Am 8-Bit (old-school gaming art exhibition): "There's something about R.O.B. that has always reminded me of the final action sequence of Aliens, where Sigourney Weaver buckles into that construction site armature - and literally gets into a street brawl with the alien. It's like Tyson vs. Holyfield — this awesomely powerful, yet really mechanical, bout. You feel the hurt with each impact.
"It's kinda like how R.O.B. moved — really clunky, rigid. So take that into the next-gen, but rather than apply it to a really simple, hand-held device, what if it were a higher-end experience?... Like you, the user, mounts into a robot skeleton (a la R.O.B.) and that was the play gimmick. The Wiimote would jack in somehow, and the infrared would track your robot gestures from inside this beast of a peripheral.
Certainly not a practical retail approach — but let's not forget the experience of Steel Battalion. Unrealistic, but bold. It was a twelve-billion button controller— and that was f—-ing cool. It sold the mythos of the mech so well. And R.O.B. gave you a real, live f—-ing robot in your living room... well, like a real "slow" version of a robot. Because R.O.B., while novel at the time, was pretty f—-ing useless. About as functional as your NES controller after throwing it into the wall a few dozen times."
Cliff Bleszinski, Gears of War creator and avowed NES fan: I hope it's got Roomba's vacuuming functionality so that I have a secondary use for one of the many peripherals that I'm now tripping all over in my living room. I'm debating hotwiring my Wii Fit Balance Board to double as a hot plate."
Do these men speak some sense? Surely there is a place for R.O.B. in the age of the Wii?