GC REVIEW: CHIBI-ROBO! PLUG INTO ADVENTURE

It's wacky, irreverent style will please gamers looking for something completely different. by StewXX

February 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.

Chibi 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.

Chibi 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.

The 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 Chibi.

Chibi 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.

Since 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.

Moolah 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.

Constantly 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.

Chibi 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.

In 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 powers.

The 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.

Overall 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.

Features:

  • Spread the happiness throughout the Sanderson family household by performing a variety of chores and tasks.
  • Purchase Chibi-Gear upgrades such as the Chibi-Blaster and Chibi-Radar to make Chibi-Robo's job easier.
  • Explore the entire Sanderson home, from the backyard to the kitchen to the upstairs bedrooms. For Chibi-Robo, a normal house is a huge world.
  • When night falls, communicate with the many toys that come to life throughout the house.
  • Discover costumes that enable Chibi-Robo to perform special tasks and communicate with different characters.

By StewXX
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Chibi-Robo! Plug Into Adventure (GC)
3.5
Graphics
Cartoonish and colorful. The graphics and animation are a little dated but they don't make the game any less fun to play.
3.0
Control
The control system may be too easy. It's a few notches up from a point and click adventure game.
4.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The musical sound effects are a nice touch. Overall the game projects a happy, aural vibe.
2.8
Play Value
You might want to have another go at the game once you complete it but the lack of unlockables and a multi-player mode make this a good rental.
3.9
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: GC
Dev: Skip Ltd.
Pub: Nintendo
Release: Feb 2006
Players: 1
Review by StewXX

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best