wacky, irreverent style will please gamers looking
for something completely different. by
9, 2006 - Chibi-Robo,
at first glance, is a cheesy game that features a
cutesy robot forced to do menial chores around the
house - really boring micromanagement that involves
housework. But after a little experimenting I found
the gameplay to be much deeper and more fun than I
had originally surmised. If it weren't for jumping
the gun, I wouldn't get any exercise at all.
is a small robot that was purchased by the Sanderson
family to help make everyone's life a little easier
and happier. In fact it's Chibi's mandate to make
everyone happy. To do this he interacts with various
members of the family, as well as toys that come to
life when no one is looking. Chibi learns what they
need and aims to please. But there are plenty of challenges
to overcome to complete these chores and that's where
the fun and the challenge begin.
looks like a metallic, upside down, walking, desk
lamp. He's only four inches tall and just making his
way around the house is a chore in itself. He doesn't
talk which adds to his alienated charm, but communicates
through a floating robot called Telly Vision which
issues orders and narrates some of the situations.
storyline is something else. There's not much point
in trying to understand all of its aspects but it
does create a strange, surrealistic world in an otherwise
ordinary appearing environment. Dad Sanderson is a
lazy, couch-napping bum who loves toys more than his
wife. He originally purchased Chibi to keep his daughter
happy, who by the way, runs around in a frog costume
and only makes frog noises. Mom is high strung and
concerned about the family's finances which have been
eroded by a huge, useless Giga Robot that Dad purchased
which now lies in a state of suspended animation in
their basement. The toys, which include a superhero,
pirate, army of eggs and a stand-up comedian dinosaur,
come to life to share their stories and dreams with
will be called upon to round up garbage, clean stains
and fetch items for everyday use to keep his masters
happy. He will earn happy points for his work in addition
to moolah which he can use to purchase upgrades. The
gameplay incorporates adventure, puzzle solving and
RPG elements which help Chibi to continually evolve
to rise to the new challenges.
Chibi is so small he can't venture too far from an
electrical outlet. He does have batteries but they
are weak and don't hold much of a charge. It takes
a lot of juice just for Chibi to climb some stairs
so he's constantly looking for an outlet to recharge
his batteries. Sometimes the outlets are few and far
between making it impossible for Chibi to venture
into some rooms in the house. The only way he can
reach these areas is to purchase better batteries
that hold a longer charge. If he drains himself completely
he has to go back to the Chibi house and completely
recharge, which not only interrupts the pace of the
game but will cost him some moolah. New batteries
give Chibi more power and longer life. They open up
some new areas outside of the home, such as the backyard,
for him to explore.
is used to purchase upgrades such a propeller attachment
that lets Chibi fly over obstacles as well as an arm
blaster that lets him shoot at small spiderbots. Collecting
these spiderbots as scrap allows Chibi to construct
various tools such as ladders and bridges that he
can use to access difficult areas around the house.
There are quite a few of these special items that
you make out of scrap, including a warp which teleports
you to other locations in the home.
being interrupted to recharge at the beginning of
the game is pain in the arse, but things do get much
better as you acquire more upgrades. There is a day
and night cycle, and while you can continue to do
work and spread happiness throughout the night, you
have to return to the Chibi house every time the game
switches between the two time frames.
is relatively easy to control. There isn't much in
the way of platforming so all you really have to do
is point him in the right direction using the analog
stick and some of the obvious moves will be made for
you automatically. At other times an icon will appear
overhead to prompt you to make a specific move which
is typically activated by pressing up on the stick.
Other controls involve activating the various tools
he picks up such as the toothbrush that he can use
to scour away nasty stains. You can also zoom in on
the environment to see where you might want to go
next, in addition to accessing a map that gives you
a complete layout of the house and the location of
all of the items that may be of interest to him.
an effort to interact more fully with characters in
the game you can outfit Chibi with costumes. By wearing
a frog costume you can have him interact with Jenny
and actually understand what she's saying, since she
only communicates in croaks. There are times when
you will have to wear specific costumes to gain information
from other characters to solve a puzzle but other
than that the costumes don't give you any specific
entire home is seen from the perspective of a tiny
robot. Often your vision of the room is obscured by
furniture which you will have to navigate in order
to do your job. The home is nicely detailed and looks
very natural. The animations are a little on the stiff
side but totally appropriate for robots. The sound
effects are actually a series of musical chimes that
accompany the various activities such as scrubbing,
jumping and climbing. It's a cute feature to be sure
but it's not as annoying as I thought it would be.
there is a happy vibe to the game that makes you feel
good playing it. The weird characters and storyline
assures that this game's appeal is not just aimed
at a younger market. It may be cute but it's also
smart, unique and challenging.
the happiness throughout the Sanderson family household
by performing a variety of chores and tasks.
Chibi-Gear upgrades such as the Chibi-Blaster and
Chibi-Radar to make Chibi-Robo's job easier.
the entire Sanderson home, from the backyard to
the kitchen to the upstairs bedrooms. For Chibi-Robo,
a normal house is a huge world.
night falls, communicate with the many toys that
come to life throughout the house.
costumes that enable Chibi-Robo to perform special
tasks and communicate with different characters.