theuselessgod's Gyromite (Nintendo Entertainment System) review

Get a human operating buddy to play this game.

The Short

Pros

- Fun two-player puzzle game

- Awesome music

- One of the only two games in existence that supports R.O.B. the robot.

Cons

- Playing with R.O.B. is actually less fun than playing with another person

- Because of R.O.B.'s handicap, the game is scaled down in difficulty and can be pretty easy

- Extra mode, where you guide the sleeping professor, is extremely boring

And now we have Gyromite...or...Robot Gyro? Eh?

The Long

Ah, the early days of the Nintendo. Coming off the big fat video game crash of the 80s, Nintendo wanted to bring the video game market back, in a big way. However, most consumers were pretty turned off to the concept of video games at the time, making any attempts to revitalize the market dangerous if almost impossible.

Nintendo's alleged "counter" to the stigma against video games was to market the NES not just as a video game console, but as a toy. After all, people were more likely to buy toys that video games at this point in time. They solidified this position with crazy attachments like the light gun and tons of other crap they put out, but really the icing that solidified this idea was the R.O.B. the robot. And I just realized the icing analogy didn't work.

The future of toy technology.

R.O.B. (which stood for "Robot Operating Buddy") was a toy that could interact with your NES games, specifically two NES games: Gyromite and Stack-Up. Each required a buttload of things you had to plug into his base for it to work, so you had to have both the attachments and the robot to make the stupid game work. R.O.B. took a truckload of batteries and was generally pretty cumbersome, so in truth he wasn't the best with regard to being a "Buddy" to play games with.

How was R.O.B. controlled? Well, since I'm waiting further time before this review, I'll explain. Using some sort of TV devil magic, when you issued commands to R.O.B. in the game the screen would flash in specific ways (kind of like how the screen flashed for the Zapper). R.O.B. would see the flashes with his robot eyes, and those would translate into commands. Crazy.

On to the game.

Gyromite was called such because of the way R.O.B.'s base was set up. There was a motorized spinny thing that, aside from taking its own set of batteries, spun around a gyro (not the sandwich) next to R.O.B.. R.O.B. would then pick up said gyro and put it on specific platforms, which would push buttons on the NES controller for the second player. He could press up to two buttons at a time (and hold it down, not just tap it) and that, in a nutshell, is how he "played" with you.

So how the crap do you play Gyromite? Well, it's actually pretty simple. You play as a professor stuck in a room full of bombs. Your goal is to collect all those bombs to end the level. The trick is there are red and blue...pillars? I guess? that block your way to the exit. These corresponded to the red and blue buttons on R.O.B.'s gyro controls. By pressing and holding the A or B button, you could raise or lower these pillars. Since the professor can't jump (though he can climb), you'd have to issue commands to R.O.B. to move the pillars for you to collect all the bombs and beat the game.

If only I had a capable robot buddy right now!

As the professor you have a few options. A batch of enemies called Smucks are running around trying to kill you, but you can distract them by picking up and placing radishes. You can also smosh the Smucks under the pillars if you could get R.O.B. to time it right.

The problem is that R.O.B. sucks as a playing buddy. He's extremely imprecise, and often will pick up the gyro incorrectly or set it down wrong on a button. The gryo also had to be "re-revved" up after every couple of stages, which was a pain. R.O.B. was also painfully slow when moving, making stages that would normally take a few seconds take quite some time. Hence the generous timer. Overall, playing with R.O.B. was novel but hardly idea.

Because you could always just turn this into a two-player co-op game. Which makes it much more enjoyable.

Yeah, like you literally cannot play it alone.

While the puzzles are dumbed down to account for R.O.B., which makes playing with another person quite a breeze, it's still a charming co-op game. You can switch off levels to decide who does the pillars and who controls the professor, and if you want to spite your buddy you can squish the professor under a pillar. It's much more fun that playing with R.O.B., that's for sure.

There's also another side game that I'm pretty sure is R.O.B. only, if you want to have any fun, that is. The professor is sleepwalking beyond your control, and you have to move the pillars out of the way to get him across the screen. It's stupidly easy, but hey...with a handicap like R.O.B. it might be enjoyable. I guess.

Or you can just smoosh his slow-walking butt. Like I did.

The graphics in Gyromite are...there. You know what's going on, but the black backdrop is boring. It really looks like an early NES game, in the vein of the old arcade games.

What stands out, however, is the music. Yeah there's only really one song, but it's a kickin song, written by the same composer who wrote the absolutely stunning Metroid soundtrack. So at least you're playing puzzles to a kick-ass beat.

Pretty excellent.

As it stands, Gyromite is actually fairly ok when playing with two people. It isn't much of a challenge, but it's at least enjoyable. Heck, it's so easy you can plug in two controllers and just hold both and play the game by yourself if you really want. While it isn't anything particularly compelling, it's a decent bit of history, and is one of the only two games that work with that stupid robot.

If you have a buddy, Gyromite is still worth picking up for the retro-enthusiast. If not, you probably shouldn't bother. Unless you have a ROBOT OPERATING BUDDY!

Three out of five stars.

R.O.B. and his evil red Satan eyes.

More at http://nathanvsvideogames.blogspot.com

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