September 20th, 2007 by J. Spiffyman


Image a game that is a combination of the best parts of Legend of Zelda, Harvest Moon, Toy Story, and Katamari Damacy. Put them in a blender, let Shigeru Miyamoto give it his magic touch, and you’ve got Chibi-Robo. Recipe for success? Very possible.

The story is simple enough. You play as Chibi-Robo, a 4” tall housecleaning robot bought as a birthday present. By cleaning up the house and keeping your family happy, you work your way up the national ranks in an attempt to become the #1 Chibi-Robo in the nation. There’s far more to it that that, though. All the toys in the house come alive a-la Toy Story, and every character has there own problems you can help them with, each as inane as the next. The toy eggs have waged war on the household dog, the caterpillar chew toy is in love with the space ranger, the teddy bear is demoniacally addicted to honey, and the daughter of the family thinks she’s a frog, to name a few. While that might seem way too far-out to make a good game, each mini-arc with the characters is surprisingly deep, and the personalities of everyone are very unique. When you actually get into the family’s problems and past, you’d be surprised how serious the game can get, too.

As far as gameplay goes, it’s a 3rd person adventure/platformer, and you’ve got free run of the entire house; pretty big when you’re only four inches tall. Everyday tasks like picking up trash and scrubbing away footprints become an oddly pleasing adventure, and you’d be surprised how sidetracked you can get with just that. Everything is very open-ended; you can help everyone or ignore them completely, or just focus on a few at a time. You can turn the house into a pigsty or spend every waking minute cleaning, it’s all up to you. While your choices don’t really change the plot, at least the game isn’t forcing you in a linear path. You’ll end up getting 7 items and 6 special costumes to aid you in performing your chores, and the costumes are pretty cool, too. The interesting thing about the gameplay is your battery life. Everything you do-walking, shooting, cleaning, every getting damaged-takes up battery power, and eventually you need to recharge at a power outlet. It can get annoying at first, but once you get bigger batteries it’s not that big a deal. Another minus is that Chibi-Robo can’t actually jump, but has to climb up ledges or hover with a helicopter instead. Still, these things are pretty minor, and help characterize the fact that Chibi-Robo isn’t some awesome powerful can-do-everything robot.

Music and sound are inventive, though not top-notch. There’s a few background tracks for cinema scenes and basic gameplay, but they’re pretty bare bones. A nice little touch is that every step you take makes a musical note, and there’s different sounds based on the different surfaces you run on, which is cute. Sound effects are very cartoony and fun, adding to the atmosphere of the game. No voice acting in this game; characters’ speech is filled in with babbling jargon, similar to Banjo-Kazooie or Midna from Twilight Princess.

Graphics are mediocre at best, unfortunately. While the scenery and objects seem to have taken a page from Katamari Damacy in its cartoony simplicity, they’re just not as refined as they could be, and at times it felt like I was playing just a very pretty N64 game. Chibi-Robo’s character itself is nice and shiny, but that’s about it.

When you look at play length, it’s a decent-sized game. I’d estimate about 25 hours of leisurely play before you reach Rank #1, and you could still spend plenty more time finishing everyone’s storylines since they’re not all mandatory. There’s also a handful of minigames to keep you occupied as well. But when it comes down to it, this game’s length is like Harvest Moon: it has no defined end, and even when you complete every objective it still keeps going.

All in all it’s a very cute and enjoyable game that’s a lot better than it looks on the surface, and as long as you’re not extremely opposed to cutesy-looking games you’ll probably have a fun time with it. You might have difficulty finding it sans-eBay, but it’ll probably be under $20 if you do, and I’d recommend picking it up.


Screenshots* (click the thumbnails for a larger version) :

chibiss1 chibiss2

Posted in Nintendo Gamecube

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