In a move that brings back memories of the R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy) that was available for the original Nintendo Entertainment System, Japanese hobbyist Izumi Ninagawa has simplified the controls of a modern fighting robot to work with a Famicom (8-bit NES) game pad – which has one of the most basic button configurations around. The NES-styled robot even competed in a robot boxing tournament earlier this year.
Ninagawa's XEMNES robot is based on a lightweight kit sold by De Agostini called ROBO-XERO, which weighs less than one kilogram (2.2 pounds) and is powered by 24 Futaba servo motors. By attaching a Bluetooth dongle to the robot with a special micro controller, Ninagawa was able to take advantage of various wireless controllers, including the Nintendo Wii remote. The remote was then hidden inside the shell of a Famicom, and attached to the Famicom controller using an adapter to complete the set-up.
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Despite the NES pad's limited number of buttons, various combinations of button presses allow Ninagawa to get the robot to stand up, walk, squat, punch, and strike (with a NES paddle tonfa). According to Ninagawa, if you've played video games before the controls feel natural and intuitive. In fact, most hobby robots are controlled with game controllers (especially the PlayStation pad, which allows for many possible actions given its button configuration).
This February, the robot was successfully entered into ROBO-ONE Light, the welterweight class of a popular hobby robot boxing tournament. The tournament gathers hobbyists from across Japan to show off their creations and fight one-on-one for cash prizes and street cred. The rules are relatively simple: knock your opponent down three times (or win by knock out if they can't get up before the count). You can see a breakdown of XEMNES's modifications and watch it duke it out with an unmodified ROBO-XERO kit in the following video.
Source: Izumi Ninagawa's blog (Japanese)