Dear video games, look up some pictures of "robots" sometime
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Some robots make cars. Others make candy. We need cars and candy to sustain our unsustainable lifestyles, so those robots make sense. Videogame robots, however, dont generally make Toyotas. They dont make Tootsie Rolls, either. They definitely dont make sense.
Fictional robot designers detest practicality. Consider killing people. You can do it with guns. Guns are simple. Guns are powerful. Then here comes Dr. Research McDontinterruptit, who insists that guns ought to have wobbly legs, feel remorse, and, actually, dont shoot bullets, but kick people. That doesnt make any sense, you stupid fictional fictional scientist! Of course, none of these robots were meant to make any sense. They were designed to look cool and make games fun. But just because somethings intentionally absurd doesnt stop us from amusing ourselves by pointing out its absurdity. Those things above are supposed to be robots? HA HA HA, NO.
Jack (Gears of War)
Jack is an invisible floating robot which appears whenever a map needs to load. Hes really good at opening doors. Why a team of tree-armed men with giant guns need a floating robot to open doors is unclear. Why invisible floating robot technology couldnt be used to simply win the war is also unclear.
Chibi Robo is a great game with a great premise. Youre a robot with a house to clean, and to make the game work (as in, have challenges to overcome), youre handicapped by your diminutive stature. Mr. Robos miniscule body makes the game fun, but if we were actually designing a robot to clean, wed probably make it at least slightly larger than the dirt its meant to clean up.
It would be kind of cruel, actually, to intentionally design something thats barely capable of the task youve programmed it to be obsessed with. "What God would wish me such torment?!" we imagine the poor wretch asking, if it had been programmed to philosophize.
Flybot (Base Wars)
We can accept that someone designed a bunch of robots to play baseball. Barely. But we cant accept that someone would design a hovering robot to play baseball. Would it not be hard to hit a baseball with any amount of force while hovering? Would touching bases not be a problem? You Flybots are just the living end.
Mousers (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Mousers are Dr. Baxter Stockmans biped mice-eating robots. That one you see above is a Giant Mouser dreamed up for the NES game, but it's not like these things make much more sense whether they're two or twenty feet tall. Who cleans out the mice guts? Do they poop? Whats wrong with cats? Or mouse traps? Wait, they rob banks too? Human banks or mouse banks? Do mice have banks? What? Mousers are dumb.
Gizmoduck is quite possibly the greatest hero ever to grace the city of Duckburg, so its not like were taking issue with his design. A cybernetic duck makes perfect sense everywhere else in the history of anything. Except in goddamn the original DuckTales on the NES, in which the Disney equivalent of Iron Man really struts his stuff by... opening a door. Great.
Not only is Gizmoduck woefully remiss in his bodyguard duties, leaving Scrooge McDuck vulnerable to all manner of pixilated peril throughout the entirety of the game, his sole is appearance is to break down a green wall? Oh no, not with his standard missiles or rocket propelled grenades. Nay, he fires a single pellet into a single structure ONCE, as if somehow helping the duck who signs his paychecks - on the f***ing Moon! - was a pain-in-the-ass stop on his way to something more awesome. Great game, but making Gizmoduck essentially a key remains a tragic waste of a great character who probably shouldve had his own damn game in the first place!
Every Mega Man enemy
Cut Man was designed for deforestation, which is interesting because he looks more like he was designed for stupid. There are better ways to deforest than with a jumping biped with scissors on his head. There are better ways to do anything than by putting the requisite tool on something's head, except maybe see in mines. Wait, scissors dont even cut down trees to begin with. What the hell, Cut Man?
Paozo is an elephant robot that throws a ball. A robot ball, probably. Tabby is a giant cat robot which also throws balls. Balls of yarn. And fleas. Why are fleas on a robotic cat? Oh, because theyre Robot fleas, which exist too, for some reason, and are apparently attracted to robot cats, for some reason.
This is taking too long. Here, just take a look above. There's a whole bunch of Mega Man enemies, and they're all awesome, but also they're all really stupid.
Clap Trap (Borderlands)
Clap Traps are probably supposed to have a purpose, but all they really do is dance around and fall over. They fall over a lot. Probably because they only have one wheel.
Another Jack? Is that a popular robot name? Anyway, Jack is a fighting android created by the Mishima corporation, or the Soviets, maybe depends on who you ask. He was built to kill Kazuya Mishima, whos being backed by The Devil on a revenge mission against his dad, the owner of the Mishima corporation. Another Jack, Prototype Jack, is built to kill the original Jack and the upgraded Jack-2. Later, Jack-2, becomes friends with a girl named Jane, but he dies, so she makes a new one. Then Jane joins G Corporation makes another model to, again, kill Kazuya Mishima. At least, thats what Wikipedia says. This all making sense?
There are a lot of stupid characters in the Sonic series, but Metal Sonic is pretty damn stupid. First of all, if you wanted to make something as fast as Sonic, why would it also have to look like Sonic? Rodents arent exactly known for their speed couldnt the robot be Emu or Cheetah shaped? Oh wait, he can transform into a dragon-thing called Metal Overlord. What the hell is that about?
We love the digital lady to death, but stop putting personality cores prone to malfunction in your robots, people. Whoever built GlaDOS either never read 2001: A Space Odyssey, or read it way too much.
Our good ol' Robotic Operating Buddy wasn't the best-looking robot, or the smartest, or the most useful, or really capable of anything worth doing, but in 1985, and through the eyes of a child, he was the future. Good thing he isn't, because if he were we'd still be using CRTs and gaming would be stupider than it already is. We still love you, though, R.O.B.!
So long and thanks for all the stupid robots
You'd think a career in consumer electronics would give you a slightly better idea what a robot looks like, right? Nevertheless, we'd have it no other way. What are some of your favorite stupid, ridiculous, gloriously impractical video game robots?
If we've whet your appetite for further ridiculous mechanized fun, proceed apace to our Ultimate Mega Man retrospective (opens in new tab), or remind yourself that people can be pretty ridiculous too, as our list of The most superior superior races (opens in new tab) will testify.