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" because of 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 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.
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. 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.
As a playable character
Main article: R.O.B. (SSBB)
R.O.B. is an unlockable 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 of white and red, though one of his alternate costumes consists of his North American color scheme of gray and white. 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, R.O.B. looks more detailed in Brawl than he does in other games and real life.
R.O.B. boasts a strong zoning game thanks to Robo Beam and Gyro, excellent recovery for a heavyweight thanks to Robo Burner, a potent air game and useful tilt attacks. However, he is terribly weak for a heavyweight, as his strongest attacks require opponents to be significantly damaged before they can KO reliably. As a result, R.O.B. is currently ranked 18th out of 38 on the tier list, placing him 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 Super Smash Bros. series, the story of The Subspace Emissary suggests that the race of R.O.B. robots called the Isle of the Ancients their home before it was subsequently taken over by Tabuu in preparation for his invasion into the World of Trophies.
As a playable character
Main article: R.O.B. (SSB4)
R.O.B.'s return to the series was officially announced on SSB4's official website on October 9th, 2014, although he was one of several characters who was initially leaked on August 19th, 2014 as part of the ESRB leak. Compared to his design in Brawl, R.O.B.'s design in SSB4 is more in line with his appearance as a real-life peripheral: the sheen of his body is now a satin finish instead of a glossy finish; his gray-colored components are darker; his head is now slightly smaller; and his eyes are now slightly larger and have more defined lenses. R.O.B. also received a new Final Smash called Super Diffusion Beam.
R.O.B.'s previously unimpressive KO potential has drastically improved, as his smash attacks, up aerial, up throw and back aerial are now potent KOing options. His grab game now boasts combo potential, thanks to down throw becoming a useful combo starter into up aerial. R.O.B.'s mobility has also improved, as his walking, dashing and especially air speeds have all increased, the latter of which also improves his already excellent recovery. Outside of these changes, the potency of his zoning and air games has remain largely intact: Robo Beam and Gyro are both reliable projectiles, while his neutral, back, up and down aerials boast disjointed hitboxes.
However, R.O.B. has some weaknesses. While his KO potential has been significantly improved, his newfound KOing options suffer from noticeable ending lag for some of his moves. His Arm Rotor in particular has a lot of ending lag. His projectiles have also been toned down: Robo Beam travels slower, while a fired Gyro deals much less damage and covers less distance. R.O.B.'s large hurtbox has also become slightly larger and his falling speed has increased; when coupled with his status as a heavyweight, these traits make him more susceptible to combos. Lastly, his grab game is hindered by his much smaller grabboxes, which have significantly decreased his overall grab range to the point it is now the shortest in the game.
Nevertheless, R.O.B. is generally seen as somewhat more viable in competitive play than in Brawl, thanks to his zoning game's potency largely remaining intact and his improved KO potential. He has since earned some noteworthy and dedicated mains, who have achieved decent results at all levels of play. As a result of his improvements and tournament success, R.O.B. is currently ranked 36th out of 55 on the tier list, placing him in the D tier.
In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
As a playable character
Main article: R.O.B. (SSBU)
R.O.B. makes a return in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, once again as an unlockable character.
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