In this episode of NEStalgia, don't STACK-UP your expectations for ROB's second and last game
Is It Still Fun?
Stack-Up exists in a strange place in console gaming. The premise of the game is to complete the block-stacking puzzles shown on the screen in actual meatspace with R.O.B. The game shows an arrangement, you select an action for R.O.B. to perform, and then the game displays its subliminal code to trigger R.O.B. to actually do it. You do this until the blocks look the same in front of R.O.B. as they do on the screen. If you consider this to be fun, I would also expect you to be overwhelmed with wonder any time you saw someone start their car with a remote fob on their keychain. The only appropriate reaction to this technological feat; and only upon seeing it for the first time; is to mutter, “Hm, neat.” and then promptly turn the system off.
All you have done by placing this cartridge in your NES is turn your TV into a remote control. At least with Gyromite there was a closed circuit of feedback. You pressed a button, the TV told R.O.B. what to do, and then R.O.B. pressed a button, interacting with the game. This time, R.O.B. only interacts with the blocks. Stack-Up is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing, and as a result, the “game” can only function on the honor system. Each puzzle only ends when you tell the game, “Yup, I did the puzzle.” and so, with incorrigible trust, the game dutifully proceeds to the next level. This is not fun.
Is It Still Playable?
If the above sounds like you’re actually playing anything, I hate to break it to you, but the chances are that you won’t be able to experience it. The parts required to play Stack-Up in meatspace are very rare, and pretty expensive. Playing the game without R.O.B. is actually something of an uncomfortable experience. It feels wrong. Like you’ve entered a house full of phantoms, and they want you to leave.
Is It Still Important?
This game was never important. Over time it has become nothing more than a head-scratching reminder of how few ideas Nintendo actually had when developing a “robot” that could “play” “games” with you. Stack-Up is an abomination.
Buy Stack-Up. It’s got a Famicom-NES cartridge converter inside of it that’s more valuable than the rest of the GamePak.