The Robotic Operating Buddy, or R.O.B. (ロボット, Robot), was an accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). R.O.B. was intended to be disguised as a toy, rather than being directly tied to video games, due to toy stores' avoidance of video games after the video game crash of 1983.
R.O.B. was originally advertised as a toy in order to get toy stores to alleviate retail fears following the North American video game crash of 1983. R.O.B. was compatible with two games, Gyromite and Stack-Up, although the player did not necessarily need R.O.B. to play the games. Despite this, he still remained a key figure in Nintendo's attempt to keep the video game industry alive.
Although R.O.B.'s time in the spotlight was brief, he nevertheless established a legacy. He was named the fifth in GameSpy's "25 Smartest Moments in Gaming" due to his impact in reviving the video game industry and helping Nintendo establish a major presence in the American video game market. Conversely, ScrewAttack called R.O.B. the fifth worst game peripheral ever, citing that he only moved up, down and side to side, was noisy and slow, was nearly impossible to put together by oneself and specifically noted the lack of games that could be played with him.
Despite only appearing as a game peripheral, R.O.B. has made many appearances in games, either by merely making a cameo or appearing as a full-fledged character. His earliest in-game cameo was in Kirby's Dream Land 3, where there is a stage in which Kirby must complete puzzles in various rooms to collect pieces of R.O.B. for Professor Hector, R.O.B.'s creator in Gyromite, so that R.O.B. can be rebuilt.
R.O.B.'s head appears as treasure in Pikmin 2 and is known as the "Remembered Old Buddy". Similarly to how his head is a collectable treasure, R.O.B.'s status as a collectable is referenced in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D, where he makes a cameo in his entirety in the Curiosity Shop, although he can only be seen when to the right of the counter when looking from the backroom and he cannot be purchased. Robotic cranes designed in R.O.B.'s image can be seen in the F-Zero GX course Port Town Aero Dive, which can also be seen in the Brawl stage of the same name.
Mario Kart DS notably marked the first time that R.O.B. made the transition into being a full-fledged character, as he appeared as an unlockable driver complete with his own signature karts, one of which is resembles his stand for Stack-Up.
However, the Star Fox series in particular has been tied with R.O.B. closer than any other Nintendo series. ROB 64 references R.O.B. both in name and as a robotic assistant, due to his status as the pilot of the Great Fox, the Star Fox team's battleship and base of operations. R.O.B. himself also appears as a boss in the Star Fox-based levels in 9-Volt's stage in WarioWare: Smooth Moves. Lastly, Star Fox Zero and Star Fox Guard both feature robots that are almost identical to R.O.B. Zero features Direct-i, who is tethered to the Gyrowing and functions similarly to ROB 64 and R.O.B. himself by being an assistant to the player, courtesy of its ability to hack into computer terminals and its ability to fire lasers from its eyes. Conversely, Guard features the A.T.K. Unit, which is one of the "combat class" robots in the game that threaten the player's mining facilities.
Main article: R.O.B. (SSBB)
R.O.B. is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. There are also many R.O.B. enemies in the Subspace Emissary and he also appears when the Ancient Minister's clothes are burned off. He sports his Japanese color scheme, being white and red like the Japanese Famicom, though one of his alternate palettes is his North American design, being gray and black like the NES. He appears as the simple robot, without any specific accessory from his game configurations except for the hands, that are in fact his Stack-Up hands. He also uses a "Gyro" and the "Spinner" from his Gyromite configuration during his Gyro attack. Overall, the R.O.B. in Brawl looks more realistic than the actual toy.
R.O.B. is ranked 18th on the tier list in the C- tier.
Main article: R.O.B. Squad
The R.O.B. Squad is the general term referring to the army and race of R.O.B. enemies in The Subspace Emissary. Although having no real canon of their own outside of the Smash Brothers series, the story of Subspace Emissary suggests that the race of R.O.B. robots called the floating island named the Isle of Ancients their home and was subsequently taken over by Tabuu in preparation for his invasion into the World of Trophies.
Main article: R.O.B. (SSB4)
R.O.B. returns as a playable character, being officially confirmed on the Super Smash Bros. site on October 15th, 2014. His design has been updated to appear more glossy than metallic, giving him more resemblance to his real-life appearance. He also has a new Final Smash: Super Diffusion Beam.
R.O.B. has been overall buffed in the transition from Brawl to SSB4, now placing 20th out of 56 on the tier list. Not only do his zoning abilities remain rather strong, but he has also seen improvements to his previously unimpressive KOing power, having some notably potent finishers. He also has a good air game, possessing disjointed range on most of his aerials, as well as good power, most notably with up and down aerials. His grab game was also made better, with up throw being made a reliable KO option, and down throw being useful for starting combos. Yet, R.O.B. has some weaknesses. While his KO power was increased, he suffers from noticeable startup lag. His large size and high weight also give him a vulnerability to combos.
Nevertheless, R.O.B. is generally seen as somewhat more viable for tournament play compared to Brawl as a result of his zoning game remaining strong, as well as his improved close-up options. He has since earned some noteworthy and dedicated mains.