*Review based on playing the game with two human players. No R.O.B.s allowed!*
Nintendo is widely known for the many innovations and quirks they bring to the video game medium. Though most of Nintendo’s outside-the-box thinking has lead to memorable experiences, others have fallen short of their visions.
One of the early examples of Nintendo’s failed experimentations was R.O.B. the robot, who was supposed to work like a second player for select games. The idea of having a cute robot play video games with you certainly is appealing. Unfortunately, the limited technologies of the time meant that R.O.B. rarely functioned how he was supposed to, and when he did, he did it at a snail’s pace.
Only two NES games ended up being made that utilized R.O.B., one of which is the puzzle game Gyromite. In all fairness, Gyromite is actually a decently fun game if you’re playing the game’s two player mode. Though it does lack replay value, and the fact that playing single player requires the use of R.O.B. (which not only doesn’t work, but is expensive these days) means that it’s a mode that you probably won’t want to touch.
The game consists of small stages in which one player controls Professor Hector, while the other player (or R.O.B.) controls the red and blue gates found within the stage. The goal is to have Hector collect all the dynamite in a stage while avoiding the villainous Smicks, strange bird-like enemies.
The trick here is that Hector can’t jump, and the red and blue gates must be raised and lowered by the second player/R.O.B in order to help Hector out. In a sense, it’s somewhat like Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle, only it’s actually fun and some of the game’s puzzles can be quite clever.
Unfortunately, even if you’re playing with two human players, the game still has a few drawbacks. Namely, it’s possible to get trapped in a number of levels, and if you’re in a position where the second player can’t squish you with one of the gates, or a Smick is nowhere in sight, you’ll have to wait for the timer to run out in order to try again. That may not sound too bad, but because the game needs to take the slower-than-slow actions of R.O.B. into account, you have quite a lot of time on the clock. So if you get stuck, you’ll be doing nothing for a good amount of time while you wait for the clock to run out to try again.
I have to repeat that Gyromite actually provides some decent fun, albeit it’s short-lived with only 40 bite-sized stages. There’s not a whole lot of replay value, but what is here, while far from great, is not bad. On the downside, I feel I do have to place it on the lower half of my grading scale, since playing the game “as it was intended” with R.O.B. would basically ruin the whole experience. Still, if you have a friend by your side, Gyromite provides some classic Nintendo charm.