Author Topic: REVIEWS: Chibi-Robo  (Read 2743 times)

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Offline Svevan

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REVIEWS: Chibi-Robo
« on: February 22, 2006, 02:32:49 PM »
Spread the happiness or die.

Chibi-Robo is a tiny robot that does your chores for you, and he's become the latest fad. A particular Chibi-Robo was given to a particular eight year old girl in the Sanderson household on her birthday. The Sanderson family did not know how far-reaching the implications of his presence would be, and neither does any gamer out there right now. You can expect anything you want from Chibi-Robo, but it will invariably deliver something completely different.    


But of course, this is a good thing! The game will catch you off your guard the moment you pop it in. Though it has a child's game look and feel, it stays just this side of shallow and is long enough to keep any aged gamer satisfied. The main purpose of the game is to make the Sandersons happy. Good deeds and housekeeping are rewarded with happy points, which act as a sort of currency. Gaining more happy points than any other Chibi-Robo on the planet will earn our hero status as Super Chibi-Robo. It's clear from the outset that his work won't be easy: Mr. Sanderson is unemployed, his wife wants to divorce him, and his daughter believes she is a frog. Being only four inches tall doesn't help either, but Chibi is resilient and resourceful.    


Chibi gains happy points by scrubbing the stains on the Sanderson's floors, picking up their trash, and giving them gifts or things that they've lost. These activities never go away and make up roughly half of the gameplay. There are also more complex objectives that form the brunt of the story and involve interactions between the various characters in the house, the majority of whom are living toys. A lot of these objectives are simple minigames that have a surprising amount of difficulty, though often they entail progressing to a tough-to-reach area, finding a lost item, and giving the item to someone.    


Chibi is controlled by an odd mix of Zelda and Mario play styles. Like Link, Chibi cannot jump but will hop on top of things when pushed against them. He will equip items from a menu and use them when necessary. Yet the game often has more action platforming a la Mario; due to Chibi's height, exploration is predominantly vertical. Chibi also has a battery that slowly ticks down as time passes and is used up much faster by performing any action, including walking. You can recharge at any outlet, but most rooms have only one or two. This does not so much present strategy as prevent you from venturing too far into the house until you gain larger batteries. By the last half of the game you won't need to worry about it much at all, giving you some breathing room for exploring.    


Exploring is one of the thrills of Chibi-Robo – each room is slowly unlocked, Metroid style, by gaining new abilities. The rooms are all quite large, with secrets up to the ceiling. Only with inventive use of your tools will you get to these heights. Along the way there will be more stains to clean, trash to pick up, and a few items that will make the Sandersons and their toys happy. Though exploring is great, interacting with and helping the characters in Chibi-Robo is much of the game's fun. The dialogue is incredibly funny, and the situations presented are truly bizarre. Everyone's favorite character will be Space Hunter Drake Redcrest, a justice-obsessed toy who informs you that the first rule of being a Space Hunter is to greet everyone by yelling. Also memorable is the army of toy eggs at war with the family dog, the nectar-addicted teddy bear who promises to go straight after he gets one last fix, and the aliens in the backyard who greet you by saying, “Hi. We're aliens." At first it seems these humorous subquests are Chibi-Robo's only plot, but they slowly and surprisingly build to one main plot that is actually quite touching. By the end the game's family feels like your family, and that is an achievement.    


Unfortunately, the balance of the game is just a little off. Halfway through the game you'll have unlocked every room in the house (which does not, oddly, include a bathroom). This dramatically alters the incentive to gain new abilities and happy points. Then, in the final third of the game, the plot-oriented objectives become more difficult, so you'll end up doing more cleaning than exploring, just to keep those happy points coming. I spent a few game days accomplishing nothing at all, and that was frustrating. Since this last third of the game is quite a bit longer than it should be, the excellent ending chapters come too late to redeem the faults. Some gamers might not make it past this portion. This is an unfortunate downside to an excellent game, one that could have been fixed by more rooms and objectives or a complete revamping of how the game plays in the last half (cleaning does get a little old).    


Otherwise, I most heartily recommend Chibi-Robo to Nintendo gamers, meaning if you bought a GameCube just for Resident Evil 4, don't bother. On the other hand, those stalwart defenders of games like Pikmin, Nintendogs, and Animal Crossing need look no further for their next fix. Everyone else is encouraged to rent, particularly since these characters will soon become legendary, and you wouldn't want to be left out.

Pros:
       

  • Unique gameplay  
  • Great characters and sense of humor  
  • Excellent sound design  
  • The plot is surprisingly touching.

           Cons:
           
  • Chores stop being fun halfway through the game  
  • Objectives and puzzles sometimes unclear  
  • Too long, or too short, depending on how you spin it

                   Graphics:  7.5
           The environments and characters are colorful, happy, and simple, but lack polygons. Character animations are re-used for comic effect, though it starts to feel cheap after awhile.

                   Sound:  9.5
           Chibi-Robo's sound design is compelling: Chibi's every movement, from walking to using items, makes its own unique music in lieu of sound effects. Combined with catchy background music, Chibi-Robo is aurally brilliant.

                   Control:  8.5
           Chibi's controls are tight, though only equipping one item at a time can be bothersome. The camera is very adaptable with only a few hang-ups.

                          Gameplay:  8.5
           Starts out inspired and fresh and stays that way for most of the game, but during the last third you'll desire more objectives and less housekeeping. Unlocking rooms is satisfying, but there aren't enough for how long the game is. The story is the game's unlikely high-point; after 25 hours of emotionally connecting with the game's characters, the final chapters reveal more depth than immediately apparent. Worth playing through to the end.

     


           Lastability:  8.5
           There is a LOT to do in this game, which has its pluses and minuses. For those who want the game to last forever, don't worry, it just might.

     


           Final:  8.5
           Original and daring, Chibi-Robo is fun to play and rewarding to complete. The kiddie-game presentation is offset by a grown-up sense of humor. The repetitive gameplay starts to nag by the end, and some puzzles are stupidly simple but impossible to figure out. Overall, though, the experience is great if you're open to it.      

  • Evan T. Burchfield, aka Svevan
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    Offline trip1eX

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    RE: REVIEWS: Chibi-Robo
    « Reply #1 on: February 22, 2006, 03:59:20 PM »
    Great great game that may just go down as the most underrated game ever released on the Gamecube.   A diamond in the rough.



     

    Offline TMW

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    RE: REVIEWS: Chibi-Robo
    « Reply #2 on: February 22, 2006, 04:11:08 PM »
    I am so going to buy this.

    I just need to convince my friends that money makes an excellent birthday present.
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    Offline Bloodworth

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    RE: REVIEWS: Chibi-Robo
    « Reply #3 on: February 22, 2006, 04:16:09 PM »
    Awesome, I need to check out the US version.
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    Offline Hostile Creation

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    RE: REVIEWS: Chibi-Robo
    « Reply #4 on: February 22, 2006, 04:36:10 PM »
    I definitely want to pick this up, and I have the money, but I'd prefer to get it for cheap.  I'm probably going to catch up on some games I haven't played yet (Trace Memory, maybe Mario Kart DS and Geist, Gunstar Superheroes), and then get it and Princess Peach DS.
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    Offline Caliban

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    RE: REVIEWS: Chibi-Robo
    « Reply #5 on: February 22, 2006, 05:23:59 PM »
    I got this game thinking that it would last 10 hours or so, now I read this review and it has around 25 hours of gameplay? COOOOOL! My only perk with it is the walking music can be quiet annoying so I turn down the volume, but I love hearing the toothbrush sound so much .

    Offline Svevan

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    RE:REVIEWS: Chibi-Robo
    « Reply #6 on: February 22, 2006, 06:28:35 PM »
    The actual length depends on how you're calculating: when I beat the story with a few objectives yet to complete, my game clock said 20 hours. However each 15 minute day actually lasts around 20-25 minutes of real time with loading, menus, and dialogue, but the clock only counts actual gameplay time. I think 25 hours is a good rough estimate, but it could be more or less, particularly depending on your ability to figure out some of the more obscure puzzles.  
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    Offline Urkel

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    RE:REVIEWS: Chibi-Robo
    « Reply #7 on: February 22, 2006, 06:33:47 PM »
    Chibi-Robo is one of my favorite games of this generation. It borrows elements from virtually every major Nintendo franchise in one way or another.

    I was really impressed by the non-linearity. I discovered a costume 25 hours into the game that could be attained literally within the first few minutes of play. That totally blew my mind.
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    Offline cubist

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    RE:REVIEWS: Chibi-Robo
    « Reply #8 on: February 25, 2006, 07:18:44 PM »
    I've logged in approximately 25 hours of Chibi Robo over the course of the past 3 weeks.  It was slow at first, but once you upgrade you get addicted much like Animal Crossing.  That's all I want to say without spoilers.  I'm now stuck though at rank #2.
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    Offline Jonnyboy117

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    RE: REVIEWS: Chibi-Robo
    « Reply #9 on: February 26, 2006, 06:45:01 PM »
    This game has never interested me much, but now I'm feeling a strong desire to pick it up.
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    Offline TheYoungerPlumber

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    RE: REVIEWS: Chibi-Robo
    « Reply #10 on: February 26, 2006, 09:33:40 PM »
    Agreed.  Maybe I'll pick it up for my extended spring break...
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