Chibi Robi (Retro Review for the Nintendo GC)

May 2, 2010 at 2:08 PM | Posted in (All Posts), Reviews, Video Game Reviews | Leave a comment
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The Gamecube can be deemed as either a tragic failure or a great success in comparison to the other systems of that generation. Support from third-party developers was most certainly lacking on the compact and fashionable system, but there is absolutely no denying the quality that was put out through each first party title from Nintendo.

Chibi Robo was an example of a game that had great execution in video game development, but by no means was a financial success in sales. Nintendo and first-party developer Skip Ltd. came together to create one of the most interesting unique video games that in terms of a genre is practically unidentifiable. If one word could describe Chibi Robi in whole it would be this: unprecedented.

In the world of Chibi Robo, consumers can purchase a tiny assisting robot known as Chibi Robo. Chibi Robo is a product that families can buy to have it help them in their everyday lives with cleaning and organizing tasks that may seem to minute for the ever-so-busy family members may not be able to do. Chibi Robo can scrub the floor of paw prints left by your dog. Chibi Robo can pick up candy wrappers that your deadbeat dad left on the couch. Chibi Robo can collect random items that humans may have lost such as shoe strings or can openers. Chibi Robo will go inside your sink and scrub mildew all while avoiding mice and insects that terrorize your pipes.

Chibi Robo is there to do WHATEVER you need him to do, and you (the player) get to be Chibi Robo.

In the game, this particular model is bought by the Sanderson family. Jenny Sanderson is the only daughter of the Sanderson parents, and Chibi is bought as a birthday gift for Jenny. The mother at first finds this purchase to be a negative thing because she knows how expensive a Chibi Robo can be, and more importantly she knows that  Jenny’s father bought Chibi Robo mostly for himself. You see, Jenny’s dad is something of a bum who is unemployed and spends his days sitting on the couch watching cartoons and playing with action figures. He neglects his family duties and makes a mess of things. Jenny’s mother is quite irritated with the situation and is not too fond of her home life — even avoiding her own duties as being a good mother to Jenny. Jenny is the most tragic character of all being that she is the victim. Her parents are too caught up in arguments and she ignores the problems of her life by clinging to her childish ways of wearing a frog hat and making “ribbit” noises rather than speaking.

Chibi Robo is here to save the day.

You will walk around the house and the yard.
You will plug into the wall with your cord-tail to regain energy.
You will try and make people happy and collect “happy points”.
You will scrub the floor with a toothbrush.
You will collect random things that seemingly have no purpose.
You will recycle because no one else will.
You will listen to women talk about their problems.
You will try and communicate with dogs.
You will talk to other toys that come to life at night.
You will find a corpse of a frog — and try and revive it.
You will try and get up the stairs.
You will prove your worth to an actual military of eggs.

YOU ARE CHIBI ROBO! And I promise you — the game is fun!

The game functions like so —

Chibi Robo wakes up in the Chibi-House every morning with Tele — your floating television shaped friend who assists Chibi when he can. You go out into the world and have a full day to do random work of your choice. Like other mission-based games, there is always some sidequest you can partake in, but there is also a main quest that you can perform actions towards and progress the overall plot.

Chibi Robo is battery-powered so you must keep watch of your power meter. It clicks down from a given number depending on the size of your upgradeable battery. In order to recharge, Chibi must walk up to an electrical outlet in the house and plug himself in until his battery is filled again. Running out of energy results in Tele dragging your body back to the Chibi-House and you also lose a certain amount of currency that can be used to upgrade your utensils.

At the end of the day period (which in real-time can be 5, 10, or 15 minutes) you return to the Chibi-House to go over the amount of Happy Points you’ve collected. Your “Chibi-Rank” can rise depending on how much you’ve done, and you can also buy upgrades and new parts to help makes things easier for your helping tasks.

What did I like about Chibi Robo?

Not to sound overly excited here — but I liked just about everything. For a game that seems like you’re doing so little, you really feel like you’re making a huge difference in the lives of the Sandersons.

The game is visually very nice and colorful with a simple and almost “blocky” look to all the characters. Every item and object is very distinguishable and anything that should stand out does.

The controls are decent enough.

The sound is amazing. Everything in the game has some spark of a sound that jumps out with any action. Walking around creates random “doot-doot” sounds with each footstep. Flying with your helicopter sounds like some lost sound clip from an old cartoon. All speaking in the game is done through gibberish (similar to Banjo Kazooie) and it fits in perfectly.

The music really blew me away. The entire soundtrack was composed by Hirofumi Taniguchi. All of the music is so different in style yet similar in elements of the instruments. Even listening to the music with no visual aid draws you into the experience and really makes you feel involved in this world.

EDIT: I used to have an embedded YouTube video in this spot, but the video kept getting pulled down. Search for a song called “Abandoned Memories” from the Chibi Robo soundtrack. It’s one of the most ambient and haunting songs I’ve ever heard in a video game.

What did I dislike about Chibi Robo?

The controls could have been a bit more fluid. Walking around feels just fine, but the camera controls felt less responsive than they should have.

Other than that — I honestly don’t have any particular issues with the game. Perhaps the main plot could have a bit more evident as I sometimes found myself not quite sure what exactly I should do in order to move the story along. That being said, some may find that to be a positive considering it creates a much less linear gameplay experience.

Overall —

When I think about some of the happiest moments I’ve had playing video games in the last few years, Chibi Robo always comes to mind. It baffles me so much that a game about such a tiny little robot doing the most simple of tasks could have the most profound effect on me as a gamer. Chibi Robo was a real artistic feat for video games overall, but more than that — the game is simply FUN.

Chibi Robo on the Gamecube definitely gets an “A+” for how great of a game it is and what a different approach it took to video gaming.

Score wise — I give Chibi Robo a 8.8 out of 10 — even 4 years after its initial release.

Chibi Robo may not be for everyone. It is a game that requires you to give some love in order to understand it. Once you do, the love it gives back is given back is multiplied tenfold and the experience is something you will take with you for the rest of your gaming life.


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