In 1985, the Nintendo Entertainment System was unleashed on the United States. It launched with 18 games, some of which are very well known such as Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt, however, there have been some that have become underrated gems. Gyromite is a fantastic example of this. It likely fell from stardom due to the fact that it is only playable with 2 people or one of the launch accessories. This accessory is known as the Robot Operating Buddy or R.O.B.
When the NES was released there were two different packages. The first was the original NES and Super Mario Bros. This bundle cost $99. However, for $199 the buyer is treated to a better package. This included the NES, R.O.B., the Zapper, 2 controllers and two games. Super Mario Bros. and Gyromite. But before I begin with the review, I have to talk about R.O.B. a bit.
I personally do not own one. I do plan to get one eventually and review it. Anyway, the Robot Operating Buddy was only compatible with only two games. Gyromite was one and Stack Up is the other. The reason for this is the fact that the R.O.B., frankly, isn’t that much fun. Many people would rather play a game with their friends than with a robot…which was really just a piece of plastic that you controlled anyway. The way the R.O.B. works is really interesting and fairly advanced for its day. When playing a game, such as Gyromite, the screen will flash and input will be given. This flashing gives R.O.B the signal to move. This works fairly well but the R.O.Bs are known for breaking easily and not working the best. But this is being unfair to it, there is a charm there that makes the games almost unnecessary. Lets face it, the robot is awfully cute in a way. In fact, R.O.B. has made appearances in other games, such as Star Fox 64 and even Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii.
Anyway, after that diversion, its time to continue on the review. Seeing as how I don’t have a R.O.B, I had to play this game with a friend. Thankfully, I found a willing participant. We popped the game in and began. The first thing we noticed is that the title screen was different. It said, “Robot Gyro,” instead of Gyromite. Maybe this was a hint to use the Gyro’s that came with the R.O.B. Our next move was to select a game mode, we chose 1 player because we had planned to just switch roles each time we had a continue.
On the subject of roles, there are two roles that the players perform. The first player controls a professor whose name is Hector. If two player mode is selected, there is another professor named Vector. The other player, or R.O.B. controls red and blue gates to assist the good professor on his mission to rid his lab of dynamite and the villainous Smicks. To complete a level, the two players must reach and deactivate the dynamite. This is done by touching the dynamite with the professor.
However, the professor is limited in his movements. He can only walk, climb ropes and hold turnips. Now you might be thinking, “Turnips!?! why do you need Turnips?” Well, the Turnip is the Smicks favorite food, when they come in contact with one, they will stop and eat it, thus allowing the professor to pass by them. This makes me wish that the professor had a jump function as well but then that would make the game a little too easy wouldn’t it? Actually, this is true, the game is very simple, odds are your worst enemy will be the second player or your own stupidity.
Yes, the second player is one of your worst enemies. This player raises and lowers gates in order to help the professor reach his goals. He/she can also use the gates to smash Smicks by bringing them down in an epic crash!! However, if the second player has bad timing or is a jerk, he/she can smash Hector as well. Although, to be honest, its fun to smash the person playing the professor every once in a while, just for the heck of it. You will always get a fun reaction out of your friend. As stated above, another one of your worst enemies is your own mind. Many of the 40 levels, or phases, have only one way of completing them, you have to do it in a very specific way and if you fail, its either suicide or letting the timer run out. So my advice to anyone playing this game, look before you leap as it can make you miserable.
Now, I haven’t touched on the graphics. To be honest, they are fairly good but nothing special. Each of the levels looks fairly similar, its only a different layout. Though I must admit, some of the professors reactions are fairly detailed. The death animation is rather humorous and plays out more like a Loony Toons Cartoon than anything. Its kind of funny and gives the game a light hearted feel.
On the subject of light hearted, I must describe the addictive nature of the music. You will hear it a million times as it never changes but the song is addicting and I wish that I could hear it done in dance remix. I find myself nodding my head to it every time I hear it. For everything else, its standard NES fare, just blips and bloops but they work well.
While I have praised this game quite a bit, there are still some problems. The first is the fact that you need two people to play the game, unless you have a R.O.B. This would be horrible if I didn’t have a friend near me to play it with. Another problem is the sporadic difficulty in the levels. Its common to have a very easy level followed by one of the more difficult levels. The levels themselves are fairly simple, even on the harder ones but it would make more sense if it works you up to the harder stages. The final complaint I have is the time limit. The game gives you over fifteen minutes to complete each stage, the truth of the matter is that the time limit should be five minutes maximum. There are times where you will get trapped with nowhere to go and no way to commit suicide so you have a choice to make. Wait 15 minutes and keep your progress or reset the game. Seeing as how you want to make it through the game, you will wait. Its extremely tedious. Also, this game is monotonous, its the same thing for 40 phases. Sure the levels change but its the same basic template and it can become boring for extended periods. Finally, after completing all the phases you are treated to a game with no ending, you just continue playing levels. This doesn’t detract too much but it is a minor annoyance.
Overall, this game can be fun when played with friends. It has some issues that keep it from becoming a true classic. However, if you enjoy puzzle games and have a good friend to play with, I highly recommend this game. Also, if you have a R.O.B. you can play the other modes that exist in the game as well. I hope to revisit these sometime when I acquire a Robot Operating Buddy, but for now, I have the regular modes and a friend to play with which is enough to warrant this rating.