Pacing the Cage

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Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

R.O.B., My Long-Lost Friend

Posted by ptcgaming on June 9, 2009

R.O.B. could have been great, had Nintendo done more for him. (Photo from Wikipedia)

R.O.B. could have been great, had Nintendo done more for him. (Photo from Wikipedia)

R.O.B., Nintendo’s Robotic Operating Buddy, could have very easily been one of the greatest creations in the history of video gaming, unlike NES flops like the Power Glove and U-Force. But the folks at Nintendo forgot to make more than two games for R.O.B. (“Gyromite” and “Stack-Up”), and it went the way of “E.T.” cartridges from the Atari 2600. Of course, none of this might matter today since R.O.B., as well as the NES Zapper, require a CRT-based television to work. This means R.O.B. can’t be your friend on your fancy plasma screen, either.

R.O.B. was the lonely gamers’ friend before the invention of online gaming. He was your buddy before “World of Warcraft” and “SOCOM.” There was no downloadable content in R.O.B.’s world, just you, he, and the old man from “Gyromite.”

So how exactly did R.O.B. function as your gaming friend? Well, that’s easy. In “Gyromite,” R.O.B. used Controller 2 (really), and with your help using Controller 1, he pushed the A and B buttons to move the pillars on the screen. Pretty cool for 1985, huh?

In “Stack-Up,” well, I never played it, so I’m not sure what R.O.B. did for you. I think he helped you match colored blocks or something like that. This game is a rare find in the U.S., anyway.

Today, you can find many R.O.B.s for sale on eBay. It’s a shame so many people want to part ways with this original gaming friend. It’s also a shame Nintendo didn’t do more with this technology. A real working robot that correctly functioned with a home gaming console sounds like a win-win situation to me. But unfortunately this story doesn’t have a happy ending.

Then again, once my CRT television set finally dies it won’t matter.

Posted in Accessories, Famicom, NES, Retro Gaming | 3 Comments »

Running on empty: The Power Pad saga

Posted by ptcgaming on August 6, 2008

Games like World Class Track Meet did a great job of showing us how out of shape we were.

Years ago, long before Grand Theft Auto ruled the world, I read that kids who play video games become more intelligent over time.
Smarter, maybe. In shape, I don’t think so.
Years and years before Wii Fit, the folks at Nintendo attempted to chisel young gamers into shape with the introduction of the Power Pad for the NES, technology that would become popular again years later with Dance Dance Revolution. The Power Pad was a simple concept: a two-sided, rug-sized pad multiple players can look like idiots running and jumping on. OK, it’s exactly like Dance Dance Revolution.
While there were around 10 or so games released for the Power Pad in the U.S., Europe and Japan, the only one I ever played was World Class Track Meet. The game featured several Olympic-style events, such as 100m dash, 110m hurdles, long jump and triple jump. And in order to move your player in the game – that’s right – you had to run in place really fast and jump in the air like your feet were on fire.
The game was actually fun, but tiring. I remember many a times playing sandlot sports with my friends and never getting worn out like after an hour of this game. And you have to be the kind of person not easily embarrassed by looking like an idiot while playing video games. This game probably won’t get you any chicks. Of course there were ways to cheat – only moving your heels really fast while keeping your toes on the ground or simply using your hands – but that kinda took the fun out of the game.
All in all, the Power Pad was one of the best accessories for the NES. Along with WCTM, it made you feel like you were actually a track star, even though in reality I could barely finish a short jog just around the block!

Posted in Accessories, NES, Retro Gaming | 1 Comment »