Chibi-Robo: Plug Into Adventure! Review

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Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Skip Ltd.


Platform: GameCube
Reviewed on GameCube

Chibi-Robo himself was purchased as a birthday gift for a young girl with a frog fetish, by her gadget-crazy dad. With the help of Chibi-Robo's flying advisor, Telly Vision, Chibi-Robo strives to please his family, including the mother and dog, by fulfilling their desires, placing trash in its proper receptacle and polishing every surface to a superb sheen.

Rating:
Kyle Ackerman


Chibi-Robo is the ideal gift for your favorite obsessive-compulsive gamer. Plenty of games appeal to that compulsion to collect every last widget, explore every nook and visit all 23 out of 23 special locations. But Chibi-Robo goes further – it appeals to the obsessively neat by making the protagonist an endearing diminutive droid whose only goal is to make people happy by cleaning house and putting things in order. If you know a GameCube owner who'd sooner fall twitching to the floor than ignore a dog's muddy paw print, this is that person's game. Of course, you can get by in Chibi-Robo without doing much housecleaning, and just enjoy the surreal suburban fusion of adventure and platforming-style gameplay.

If Chibi-Robo has a handicap in performing his domestic duties, it's that he is only a few centimeters high. Fortunately, the inside of his head seems to have limitless space for storing objects many times Chibi-Robo's own size. Equipped with helicopter-like blades that allow him to glide from place to place, Chibi-Robo quickly learns to scale electrical cords and hop from shelf to shelf to reach high places and clean up even the most out-of-the-way messes. Over time, Chibi-Robo performs his duties more efficiently as he recycles scrap into gadgets such as ladders and bridges.

The house in Chibi-Robo offers a sandbox environment for virtual cleaners, but is also a center for strange and even traumatic goings-on. Dad is sleeping on the couch. Mom is locked in the master bedroom, contemplating overdue bills, and the little girl of the household believes she has been cursed by an evil wizard to look and act like a frog. While the specter of divorce looms over the family, mysterious subplots abound. The toys themselves are animate (at least when people aren't around) and have their own needs and love interests. So Chibi-Robo can spread happiness not only by helping the family, but also by serving the needs of toys ranging from a wind-up mummy to a platoon of hard-boiled militant eggs. Sometimes that aid can be elaborate, such as breaking a teddy bear's unfortunate addiction, or simple, such as opening the blinds so that a T-Rex toy can gaze upon a funky flower.

Chibi-Robo pleases all gamers from the hardcore to the most casual. The core story is easy to follow, while there are plenty of optional side-quests and a slew of secrets that will tax experienced gamers' platforming skills to complete. A journal or "to-do" list would help the game, as it is possible to miss the game's obvious clues and be stuck wandering around in search of something to further the plot, but there's always something for Chibi-Robo to do. With the possible exception of a final boss battle, even when Chibi-Robo needs to defend himself, it's something that even the most casual gamers can handle. Hostile robotic spiders will occasionally attack, but the aiming for Chibi-Robo's blaster is forgiving, and the penalty for failure is minimal.

The strange happenings in Chibi-Robo's house are both some of the game's most entertaining facets and the hardest thing for die-hard realists to handle. The household's toys have been granted souls by aliens that return for another visit and the world is literally turned upside-down by a late game visitor. Strangest of all, once Chibi-Robo returns a gigantic robotic compatriot to life, he himself dies, only to be resurrected by Disco.

Ultimately, Chibi-Robo is a title that GameCube owners shouldn't overlook. There's so much adorable positive feedback mixed with solidly entertaining play, that this game should offer 15 to 20 hours of fun – more if you insist on cleaning every crayon mark and pleasing every dissatisfied toy. It's hard to argue with a game that awards players happy points for everything they do, and reminds everyone that "just your very presence makes people happy, happy, happy!"

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on August 29, 2006 12:21 PM.

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