Yo, watch this

If you know me, you know I hate self-promotion and cringe at the thought of praising my own work. But this time, I’m going to make an exception. Today I published a 21-minute video retrospective on Gyromite and R.O.B. the Robot Operating Buddy, and in my humble opinion it is spectacular. When I started getting serious about capturing high-quality classic game video a couple of years ago, this project was high on my list of dream projects: An in-depth look at this game and its accessory, featuring HD footage that demonstrated the interaction between software and peripheral.

None of that exists online, because why would it? Creating such a thing would be complex, expensive, and time-consuming. And really, how many people actually care? Very few! So I wanted to fill a niche that no one has ever asked for.

The process of getting to this point has been a long, expensive trip — the kind of thing that, if I did it for work, would get me reprimanded for investing so much energy and so many resources on such a long shot. This video was, honestly, an idiotic black hole for my free time. It features not only the aforementioned paired footage (which required the acquisition of all kinds of hardware, including a working and complete R.O.B. and a video camera) but also a ton of original photography of the hardware. I also threw in some more photos from my trip to NYU last fall. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this video has been in development for more than a year.

And… it turned out exactly the way I had hoped it would. It’s crammed with historical context, built around extensive research and discussion, demonstrates R.O.B. in action, and evaluates Gyromite fairly under its intended circumstances (rather than using the elaborate accessory setup as a comedic punching bag or writing the game off because it’s so simplistic when played through emulation). I’m always reluctant to refer to anything I do as definitive, because someone inevitable has done (or will do) it better… but this is about as close as it gets to a definitive look at R.O.B. and Gyromite.

Naturally, this means it will struggle to exceed 3,000 views over its lifetime. Meanwhile, a popular YouTube star will take fives minutes to use their camera phone to record themselves smashing a R.O.B. with a baseball bat and make a year’s living off the ad revenue. And so, the dinosaurs shuffle along until the meteor strikes at last. But at least we have a really damn good Gyromite retrospective to enjoy along our march to the grave.

4 thoughts on “Yo, watch this

  1. I watched this last night; it is excellent. I’m a moderate NES collector, so, not the kind of person that would seek out a ROB but really want to know what it’s like. This hits that spot right on the nose.

    Inspired by your efforts, I started a Retro Video Game Club at my school (I teach elementary) where I teach basic NES history, understanding NES game design, music, and hardware. So far, it’s been hugely popular and the kids regularly make comments like “this is so much more fun than XBox!” Last week one of them ( an 8 year old, no less) went home and told his mom about how the video game crash of 1983 lead to Nintendo’s redesign of the Famicom for US markets. They ended up dragging an Atari out of the basement. Not trying to self-promote, just letting you know that your efforts trickle down in more ways than you might realize.

    All the best,

  2. That honestly was really fascinating. Having never seen a functioning setup in the wild, the fact you actually need to deal with tops holding buttons down that could theoretically lose momentum and tip over if left alone too long really does add a lot to it.

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