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Chibi-Robo!

ちびロボ!

Developer: skip Publisher: Nintendo
23 June 2005
Chibi-Robo! [ちびロボ!] - cover art
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136 Ratings / 3 Reviews
#392 All-time
#19 for 2005
For Jenny Sanderson's eighth birthday, she receives Chibi-Robo: the ultimate housekeeping robot. Standing at only ten centimeters in height, Chibi-Robo must use clever ingenuity to navigate the Sandersons' home, as well as uncover the many secrets being held inside its walls.
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2006 skip Nintendo  
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ちびロボ! Wiiであそぶセレクション
2009 skip Nintendo  
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Title
R.I.P. Nintendo Power. Nintendo’s once glorious publication served as prime reading material to supplement time spent away from playing Nintendo’s systems. The monthly magazine was a haven of everything Nintendo: including reviews, lists, fan art, and features on upcoming games as detailed and thorough as Playboy’s “playmate of the month.” Nintendo Power also included walkthrough/cheat code sections to aid players through the esoteric and brutally challenging games of Nintendo’s pixelated era. I have fond memories of the publication from when I was a kid, even though the so-called “golden age” of the magazine spoken of in that one AVGN episode tributing it predates my existence by a few years. I subscribed to it between the years of 2003-2008, losing interest in Nintendo Power once they were bought out by a corporate conglomerate that sucked the personality out of the publication. I shed a bittersweet tear when Nintendo Power closed its doors in late 2012 and apparently, the brand name continues in a podcast format. Why am I sharing a sentimental moment from my youth here? Because Chibi-Robo! is the select game that I discovered through a feature in the March 2006 issue of Nintendo Power, and it probably would’ve gone unnoticed without it. It would’ve been a shame because Chibi-Robo is one of the Gamecube’s finest hidden gems.

Chibi-Robo’s presence on the front cover of issue 201 of Nintendo Power was fairly minimal. The titular hero and his assistant Telly Vision were present on the cover, but at unflattering, unimportant angles on a stark black background. The prime focus of the cover were the words, “Gonzo Gaming!” an ambiguous buzz term fitting for something from a 1950’s billboard advertisement. While Chibi-Robo was offered a prestigious role as the front cover feature of Nintendo’s prime publication, the cover’s lack of pizzazz might have subtly suggested that the game was nothing extraordinary and there were no other games to display that month. However, the insignificantly-sized blurb at the bottom of the obnoxious title showed that those at Nintendo Power knew the extent of Chibi-Robo’s genius. It stated that Chibi-Robo was Nintendo’s “domestic hero” and that he was “leading a revolution in radical game design.” Although that “revolution” never quite came to fruition, Chibi-Robo still proved to be incredibly innovative. If games like Earthbound domesticated the JRPG genre, then the domesticity that Nintendo Power were alluding to with Chibi-Robo was the shifting of tropes from the 3D platformer and the action-adventure genres into something more habitual.

Chibi, the pocket-sized robot of the title’s namesake, is introduced to the Sanderson family on the daughter Jenny’s eighth birthday celebration. Her father has pulled a Homer Simpson and has purchased Chibi as a birthday present, knowing full well that he is the one interested in microscopic mechanical marvels instead of his daughter. Chibi, along with his even dinkier, fluttering manager Telly Vision, introduce themselves cordially and display Chibi’s potential by picking up a flower in a vase and handing it over to Jenny. Despite both the outstanding display of Chibi’s capabilities and the kind gesture, Mrs. Sanderson is still appalled at her husband’s selfishness, and reasonably so. It also doesn’t help matters that Chibi-Robo was an expensive purchase, digging the hole of debt the Sandersons are in a bit deeper. What was expected to be Chibi’s warm, hearty welcome to the Sanderson household is instead met with a transgressed Mrs. Sanderson gives her husband the cold shoulder for the duration of the game. Because of the unceremonious circumstances, Chibi now has to prove his worth to the Sandersons, both in the economical and personal sense.

So how does Chibi make himself useful to the Sandersons? By making them happy, of course. Chibi-Robo’s main objective is to accumulate “happy points,” a currency earned by performing various good-natured tasks around the house. Common tasks that net Chibi-Robo happy points usually involve cleaning, scrubbing stains with an old toothbrush and disposing of garbage such as wrappers, soda cans, etc. The Sandersons, along with their dog Tao, are evidently taking advantage of Chibi’s services because the house gets mucked up with the same amount of filth and detritus after each night. As irritating as the family’s audacity to compromise your hard work is, at least it offers a consistent opportunity to rake in a small amount of happy points. Completing more roundabout tasks for progressing the main story and side quests will earn Chibi a more inordinate amount of happy points, ranging from single digits like cleaning to profound happiness in the hundreds. Funny enough, the player cannot perform acts that will deduct happy points, which could potentially be a hilarious litany of mischievous deeds. A flexible morality compass would’ve been too complex for a game like Chibi-Robo, although it would’ve been interesting to say the least. At the end of the day, Chibi-Robo retreats back into his crockpot-shaped house in the living room and Telly Vision adds up his cumulative total. Chibi’s end goal with collecting happy points is to eventually become the number 1 Chibi model in the world, which is cataloged in a Chibi leaderboard based on the total number of happy points they’ve earned. Considering this Chibi ranks up in the hundreds of thousands above several others with a measly happy point total at the start, many other Chibis are total duds, so the competition isn’t stiff. Chibi also earns “moolah,” a more well-defined financial currency that is given alongside happy points and can also be found around the house. Other people’s happiness is all fine and dandy, but Chibi ostensibly isn’t the Sanderson family’s indentured servant and needs to be compensated for his hard work. Do the Chibis have their own union? With the combination of the two abstract and the concrete currencies, Chibi-Robo offers more than enough incentive to do menial labor.

“Why would anyone want to play a game where all you do is clean?” was a frequent decry from some gaming journalism outlets (not Nintendo Power) on Chibi-Robo. This rhetorical question is obviously a gross oversimplification from someone who saw this game on a superficial level, but I’d be lying if I said cleaning wasn’t a large aspect of Chibi-Robo. What was Nintendo’s fascination with centering games around cleaning in the Gamecube era (Animal Crossing, Super Mario Sunshine, etc.)? The dissenting critics weren’t entirely wrong about the content, but they failed to recognize the scope of the objective. The entirety of Chibi-Robo’s map takes place in the confines of the Sanderson home, and it’s not as restrictive or bottled as it may seem. Keep in mind that Chibi is roughly the size of someone’s hand, so the Sanderson’s home seems like a sprawling playground in his perspective. Common household objects like lamps, chairs, and stairs are herculean hikes for someone of Chibi’s stature. While Chibi’s main prerogative is to clean, the lengths in which he has to traverse are grand enough to match Link’s climb up Death Mountain. The heights in the rooms that a normal human could reach with their arms are daunting for little Chibi, making them daunting for the player by proxy. Using the Chibi ladder tool as assistance in ascending the staircase in the foyer to access the upstairs portion of the house felt as gratifying as getting to the destination point of any other adventurous trek. The Sanderson’s home is not mapped out extraordinarily. It’s a two-bedroom home with the typical rooms like the living room, kitchen, basement, and a fenced-in backyard. The Japanese developers evidently were inspired by the Brady Bunch when mapping out the home because the Sandersons do not have a bathroom. Did they figure there wouldn’t be enough happy points or moolah in the world for Chibi to clean up the Sandersons bathroom, considering the amount of mess they leave everywhere else? Yeesh. However, the scope of Chibi-Robo’s world makes the mundane setting of a two-story home into something extraordinary.

Chibi must make sure not to exert himself too much while making people happy, or else he’ll literally collapse. The caveat to escapading around the Sanderson’s home is that the player must always keep caution of Chibi’s battery represented in the bottom right corner of the screen. Consistent movement will cause a steady depletion, and standing motionless will still drain the battery, albeit at a snail’s pace. Fall damage is the most harrowing threat to Chibi’s life force. Depending on how high Chibi has dropped, the battery will plummet into multiples of a hundred. Because of this, it’s wise to always use Chibi’s copter mod when scaling high places, so he floats down gracefully only using a small fraction of energy. If Chibi’s battery reaches zero, he’ll pass out and Telly will escort him back to the Chibi house, losing a bit of moolah as a result. Fortunately, multiple outlets are situated in every room (except the backyard) of the Sanderson household for Chibi to completely replenish his energy and for the player to save the game. Some may see Chibi’s finite battery as an irritating burden, but I think that it helps elevate the scope of the adventure. If Chibi were able to climb around without any concerns, the adventure wouldn’t feel as imposing. Plus, the reward for ascending the Chibi ranks increases Chibi’s battery power by a few multiples of ten, which scales wonderfully with the expanded range of the house Chibi can explore. Chibi’s battery life keeps the player on their toes and makes them consider their actions more carefully.

Chibi needs to recharge periodically because the Sandersons have him working around the clock. The days in Chibi-Robo are divided in half by two day and night cycles. These cycles start at a mere five minutes but the brief period is fitting for Chibi’s miniscule battery power at the beginning of the game. Soon enough, the player can extend the cycles to either ten or fifteen minutes. I recommend keeping the clock on fifteen because after a certain point, the amount of quests will stack up, keeping you busier than anticipated. The player should also give themselves enough time in either cycle because both offer different opportunities. During the day, the Sanderson family (including the dog, Tao) are up and about and the house feels zestful and bright. At night, dusk engulfs the residence with a moody shade of blue, creating a calm atmosphere. Night is also when Chibi-Robo’s Toy Story influence is more apparent as the Sanderson’s toys spring to life as they galavant about the house. Some toys will act lively during the day, but only in sections where none of the family is around. At night, the lack of human presence allows each toy to command their domain. I love games whose progression feels free-flowing and gives the illusion of total freedom. After unlocking the entire house in Chibi-Robo, I can fill his schedule with whatever I please. The fifteen minutes may not seem like enough time, but the limit makes the player act on their feet. While I cherish the free-form progression, I wish it was a little more organized. A Bombers Notebook from Majora’s Mask would’ve been helpful in tracking the available days for each character because their interactivity is not as simple as thinking that humans are only available during the day and the toys at night. For example, The Great Peekoe, the money-grubbing scam peddler, is all over the map. He normally resides in the basement, but will be in the kitchen and in the backyard at times. I would never interact with him except that he possesses an item needed for another character’s quest, and showing interest in buying this item to him on the backyard swing is only there at a very specific time. The soldiers can’t train at night in the foyer at times and Sunshine is sometimes with Jenny at all times of the day. A Persona-like schedule in a menu would’ve cleared things up, but perhaps that would’ve been too complex. Still, it’s disheartening taking precious time to meet a character and find that they aren’t available.

Even if the premise and content of Chibi-Robo doesn’t suit your fancy, one can’t deny the beaming charm the game has. Chibi is an adorable protagonist, and the microcosmic world that is the Sanderson household is just as endearing, albeit a bit gaudy. Chibi-Robo is a game whose aesthetic exudes a cutesy, childish vibrancy. The look of the characters, environments, and the overall atmosphere is pleasing, like the general innocence of something catered towards children. Something unexpected from Chibi-Robo, but nevertheless just as vital, that supports this peppy tone is that the game is quite sonorous. Musical cues resonate from seemingly every pore of Chibi-Robo. Many of Chibi’s gadgets like the toothbrush, for example, will create a pleasant acoustic guitar track whose length coincides with the rate of continual motion Chibi makes while cleaning. It’s just too bad that it depletes so much of his energy. The broken piano jingle that plays when Chibi attempts to dig at a solid spot of land is so alluring that it attracts a strange creature called Mr. Prongs to the living room. Each one of Chibi’s footsteps is heard like Spongebob’s and picking up his chord and carrying it over his head will not only speed up Chibi’s movement, but the background track will move faster as well. Many characters have their own theme that plays when Chibi interacts with them, and the stylistic gibberish they all speak in sounds more natural than any other game that uses this method of dialogue. I’ve never seen a game use music like Chibi-Robo does, and it’s used brilliantly.

Another element of Chibi-Robo that elevates its charisma is its extensive cast of characters. Chibi’s design is wonderful, but he is yet another silent avatar protagonist in gaming. Despite his kind nature and darling wardrobe of costumes (the pajamas being the most precious), his uninvolved “yes” or “no” signs of communication make him like a non-threatening version of Hector Salamanca. Telly usually does most of the talking for Chibi, and he serves as a straight man spectator to all the oddities in the house with a jittery, timid disposition. The lifeblood of the game are the supporting characters, namely the family and the toys. With the family, my impression that the developers watched a smattering of 20th-century sitcoms to craft their interpretation of the typical American nuclear family rings louder. Mr. Sanderson is a chubby, oafish slob like many sitcom dads who lazily sits around the house due to being unemployed. He’s a stilted manchild who performs a Super Saiyan stance when he gets excited. His wife is the spitting image of the naggy, frustrated housewife who looks like a 1960s pin-up model. She has contempt for Chibi at first because of how expensive his purchase was, but grows to like Chibi as he does his job. They even have tea time together as Mrs. Sanderson subtly flirts with Chibi to everyone's discomfort. How many happy points Chibi would get if she used him as a vibrator is uncertain, but I bet he’d be off the charts in the Chibi rankings. Their daughter Jenny’s quirk is that she wears a frog hat and only talks in ribbits with some words mixed in. She is mostly seen drawing in the living room. Tao, the family dog, is the most hostile towards Chibi and is mostly the subject of one particular side quest.

The family unit are all interesting in their own right, but the real stars of Chibi-Robo are the toys. Some toys will mark their territory and never leave their spots while others travel around the bounds of the house in several different places. Drake Redcrest, an intergalactic space warrior who totally isn’t Buzz Lightyear, stomps around the living room on his patrol for justice with the same mix of righteousness and lack of self-awareness as the Pixar character who serves as his clear inspiration. Lurking around the close vicinity of Drake is Sophie, who moonlights as a hopeless romantic for Drake after being Tao’s chew toy all day. The hard-boiled Sarge and his army of egglings use the spacious foyer for combat training while the gruff, wooden pirate Plankbeard traipses around the basement drinking rum. The master bedroom is the dance stage for Funky Phil, who is Disco Stu as a toy flower with kinetic arms. As Phil dances the night away, his not-so-secret admirer: the rootin-tootin, frog-chewin’ Dinah watches him from across the room in awe. Jenny’s room is the realm of the maudlin Mort who lays in his coffin under the bed and the beautiful Princess Pitts who sits high in her oblique castle. Sunshine, my favorite of the toys, mainly resides here and is the reason why I was interested in buying Chibi-Robo. His Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like nature brought upon by his debilitating addiction to nectar makes him violent and like a fuzzy, bowtie wearing Danny Bonaduce.

The main trajectory of the story will only include some of these toys on occasions, so I implore anyone who hasn’t played Chibi-Robo to invest time and effort in each character’s side quest. Not only will completing them earn Chibi a whopping amount of happy points, but the side quests are some of the best content the game has to offer. Once Chibi impresses the egg soldiers with bypassing their line of fire on his way to the basement, they enlist him on a mission to kill the family dog to recover a soldier who was abducted by Tao. Plankbeard is confined to the dank grounds of the basement, and Chibi must recover his lost ship along with a fresh pirate crew so he can plunder for booty once more. Sophie drops the poetic love letters meant for her crush, Drake Redcrest, but coyly uses Chibi as a medium for communication between them even though she’s only a few feet from him at all times. Dinah goes above and beyond for Funky Phil as his biggest fan, aiding his offspring in desperate times. The standout sidequest is helping Mort with his seemingly futile affections for the beautiful Princess Pitts The climatic point of this sidequest when Sunshine is having an “episode” and Mort “defeats” him after socking Drake Redcreast in the mouth is my favorite moment in the entire game. As for the Sunshine sidequest, the resolution to it is so outrageous that I dare not spoil it. For a bunch of inanimate objects, these toys are more lively than most NPCs in gaming. Interacting with these characters made me feel invested in their troubles, unexpectedly empathizing with them as a result. Most of the tasks Chibi must do run the gamut of fetch quests, but the superb writing of the characters and their stories makes up for the tedium.

The sidequests expose a surprising level of depth Chibi-Robo has that one would not expect. While Chibi-Robo’s presentation and characters are zany, the game is not afraid to shine light on some weighty themes beneath its light-heartedness. Chibi-Robo is the story of a dysfunctional family at their breaking point, and Chibi has been unfairly tasked with mending the foundation before it cracks. In a pivotal moment, Chibi finks on Mr. Sanderson by showing his wife a receipt for yet another expensive toy. In a fit of frustration, she locks herself in her bedroom away from her family and decides that this instance is her boiling point. She writes the family a letter expressing her want for a divorce, something that lights a fire under Mr. Sanderson’s ass as he starts to pitch in with housework. Mr. Sanderson obviously didn’t consider signing his prenuptial. The character we empathize with most is Jenny, for the aura of dysfunction caused by her bickering parents has had a damning psychological effect on her. She is seen in the foyer on some nights, either crying or looking distraught. Her regression with the frog head is most likely due to severe psychological problems, inability to cope with what is happening around her and retreating to a realm of escapism. She only expresses her true feelings about the situation by communicating through Sunshine or when Chibi is wearing the frog suit.

The other aspect of the main story also delves into the aura of gloominess surrounding the Sanderson house. During Chibi’s first visit to the basement, he finds a conspicuous giant robot lying motionless in the corner. By plugging his cord into the robot’s outlet, he inherits the memories of the robot’s history with the Sandersons and the toys. With some exposition from Plankbeard, we learn that this metallic hunk-of-junk is Giga Robo, a hulking prototype of Chibi that used to be a companion of the Sandersons. He also brought the toys to life as a wish he was granted by aliens he saved from a fatal collision to Earth. Eventually, the Sanderson’s unpaid bills became too staggering, and they had to stop financially supporting Giga Robo’s battery, leaving him as a husk to fester in their basement. Chibi’s main goal in the story is to revive Giga Robo, using moolah to charge his battery and find his missing leg. Chibi focuses on replenishing Giga Robo’s life force because he’s emblematic of the Sanderson’s happiness. They were happy when he was present in their lives, and their financial problems were relatively stable. He’s a symbol of the candy-coated past full of opportunity and prosperity, juxtaposed with the malaise of the present that Chibi is only familiar with.

In real life, Giga Robo’s absence would be a lesson in the absolute nature of grief and the process of coping with loss. However, Chibi-Robo is a video game, and extraordinary things happen in them, but not without complications. The extent of Chibi’s formidable mission has him using the alien’s time-traveling technology to retrieve the code to a case where Giga Robo’s leg is locked up. Up until now, the Spydorz enemies that have been sporadically showing up to antagonize Chibi Robo have been a piddly excuse for Chibi to use his blaster. As insignificant as they may seem, they enact a full-scale invasion of the house by using the case as a Trojan Horse. In this distressing event, the entire family bands together with Chibi, and Mr. Sanderson proves he’s not some dumb schmuck. He reveals that he wasn’t laid off from his job of programming the Spydorz but quit out of passion when his company decided to make them turn on the Chibis. With a new schematic, Mr. Sanderson does some impressive metalwork to improve Chibi’s blaster to defeat the Spydorz and their queen. The queen boss fight feels rather awkward, but the resolution where the family unit is restored is greatly satisfying. This climax along with Giga Robo walking up the stairs to everyone’s surprise ends the story of Chibi-Robo beautifully. Chibi ascends to the apex of the rankings and becomes “Super Chibi Robo,” and all it took was repairing a tattered marriage by bending time and space. The aliens grant Chibi and Giga Robo an infinite battery that never declines, which the player can use indefinitely. However, I believe this sweet conclusion should’ve been the last moment of the game. For some reason, some of the side quests can’t be finished until Giga Robo is revived which sullies the impact of the ending. That, and using Chibi with reckless abandon now that he’s immortal compromises too much on what made the gameplay invigorating and makes it mundane.

Chibi-Robo is more than meets the eye. The kooky nature of the game’s presentation was enough to sucker me into buying it after its splendor was displayed in an issue of Nintendo Power when I was a kid, and its offbeat nature fulfilled my initial expectations. However, one can’t truly know the extent of Chibi-Robo unless they probe deeper into its hidden level of substance that lies beneath its eccentricities. A game that was lambasted for simulating menial labor was merely a surface-level critique that failed to capture how it was a pertinent mechanic in reinventing the tropes in both the 3D platformer and action-adventure genres. The bevy of characters that coexist with one another in this domicile are outlandish, yet they are more fleshed-out and sympathetic than most human characters in gaming. Some critics even claim that the dour themes presented in Chibi-Robo are too jarring for something so cute and inviting, but I argue that it’s impressive that the developers combined the quirkiness and the sombreness of the game without it feeling asymmetrical. Chibi-Robo is a unique, impressive experience, and I thank Nintendo Power for introducing me to this criminally underrated game.
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TL;DR: This game is complicated and does a number of things very right and almost as many things extremely poorly. However, it's a memorable experience that I have to recommend for the sheer absurdity of the concept. I think the value of the game is in the eye of the beholder with this one, so feel free to read ahead if you want my thoughts on it.

YouTube games critic Joseph Anderson has often talked about tedium in puzzle-based adventure games being defined as the time it takes you to actually perform something after you have mentally confirmed it to be possible and the correct solution. For example, if you discover a solution to a simple puzzle in your head, but then it takes you 10 minutes to execute, those 10 minutes are wildly tedious because you already know you can do it, and the task turns into busywork.

As much as I found memorable and unique with Chibi-Robo, I will state that if you agree even slightly with the above statement, there is a good chance you will have some major problems with this game. With that out of the way, if you come from a house with divorced parents, I highly recommend playing through this game anyway.

Chibi-Robo is about a small helper robot that Mr. Sanderson buys for his family despite not having the money to do so. The dynamic of the family is very clearly on the precipice of breaking completely, and you discover this by listening to how they talk about one another. The father is between jobs and obsessed with toys more than he is upkeeping his family. The mother is a homemaker that has lost her motivation because of her husband's laziness. The sole daughter is clearly traumatized by her parents' rift and completely envelops herself in a frog costume persona to help cope with the absurdity. All of them grow fondly of you in different ways over the course of the game, as you become an embodiment of what they each desired most in their family - motivation, responsibility, and companionship, respectively. Your unofficial goal is to prevent divorce by making everyone's resolve stronger to fix the household instead of letting it wilt.

To boot, all of the toys in the house come to life when the family isn't around (similar to Toy Story), and they all have their own connection to the family and house that are pretty entertaining. While many characters are obviously supposed to be parodies of pop culture (Drake Redcrest as Ken the Eagle from Gatchaman being the most prominent), I found them to be mostly really interesting because the writing is very strong in this game, even for minor characters. The game is also outright hilarious on a number of occasions, so my personal motivation for most of the game was just to find out what happens next. It also has that point-and-click adventure style dialogue depth where interacting with characters with random costumes and items provokes pretty interesting throwaway dialogue. Basically, they feel like they have some depth and personal thought processes, even if the tone of the game presents it in a specifically Y2K brand of off-kilter charm.

The actual gameplay is pretty straightforward - you walk around cleaning up the place and doing simple tasks to make everyone around you happy, basically proving your worth to the family. You are limited by the fact that you need to be plugged in to recharge your battery, but scoring Happy Points brings you closer to upgrading your battery life. Some events trigger others in the house, progressing the story and unlocking new events and environments to solve and play around in. The appeal of being really tiny and having the sort of strange obstacle of real-world objects is kind of obvious, since it makes you think about the usefulness of the geometry of these things in ways you probably haven't considered much before. This is fun and exploring a new room for the first time was my favorite part of the game in most cases. It's a weird brand of gameplay but I think it poses 3 distinctly annoying challenges.

The first problem in the game that will probably annoy you is that your battery starts very small in capacity, meaning you have to frequently interrupt your exploration to recharge. You might make it to the top of a structure with a fork in the road and only be able to explore part of one path before having to retreat to recharge. This isn't fun since it basically taunts you with the idea of a place that you already know exists and that you have been to, but just can't actually move around and explore. Add to the fact that charging wastes even more of your time by prompting you to save every time you plug in, and the early game can be pretty rough. It's annoying, and begets the next problem.

The second is that some structures, like stairs, take an absolute eternity to traverse because Chibi does not have a true jump mechanic. He instead has to hold the directional stick toward a grabbable ledge and pull himself up, kind of like the 3D Zelda titles but it takes twice as long. Given that you have to make frequent trips up and down these structures, that tedium concept presented before starts to rear its head when the challenge of hoe to climb this bookcase has already been solved, and you just have to spend 5 minutes doing it again. There are eventually ladders and warps and bridges and make these slightly more tolerable, but Chibi's slow run speed means there is always some teidum when traversing across the house. When limited to just inside one room, it's a bit more forgivable.

The third is probably the most frustrating - there is a day-and-night cycle that is on an active timer that depletes whenever you are unpaused. Different things happen in the day and the night, namely the toys getting more lively when everyone goes to bed, but there is 1) no way to accelerate the day/night cycle by sleeping like in Animal Crossing, and 2) reaching the end of the timer takes you back to your home base in the living room. The first time I walked out of the Chibi-House and realized I had to climb all the way back up the stairs to continue what I was doing (a 5 minute process just to return to the area I was in), I got so flustered that I turned the game off. That is the definition of tedious. I get that they needed a way to initiate the two "states" of the house, but holy shit, literally anything but what they have in place would have been better.

Those three concepts might sound irredeemable, but they get better with smaller play times. The fact that the color palette so closely resembles Super Mario Sunshine makes me actually angry just thinking about how much more quickly Mario and FLUDD could traverse the house and get stuff done. I can't shake the feeling that if this game actually had fluid exploration and movement mechanics, and respected your time, the exact same game would take maybe 1/3 as long as it took me to complete 100%, and entirely for the better. That is something like 10 hours of wasted time.

At the end of the day, I feel like this game is almost too unique to not still recommend to the generally curious. The storytelling is really well done, even with its simplicity, and kids who grew up in similar environments will probably find the character of Jenny very affecting. The art direction has aged extremely well thanks to color blocking and focus on caricatures over realistic portrayals, and the game supports progressive scan so it looks sharp even today. The soundtrack is really well done early-00s acid jazz electronica, and the sound design is charming (even though the footsteps can get grating after a while).

This is a complicated and heavily-qualified recommendation, but the high points reached with the ambition of the storytelling and your interaction in fixing the family simply by making their lives easier slightly outweighs the clunky gameplay. This seems like a game that is practically begging for a proper sequel, and though I haven't played the sequels I still plan on it just because of how original this concept is. Even if it's just novelty, it's good novelty, and a version of this game with stronger movement mechanics and more respect for the time of the player is a contender for best game on the console, period. I also feel like this game is maybe the ultimate bait game for a Switch remake, and I hope if it happens that my problems are somewhat alleviated and it's not just a port. Until then, I'm sure you can probably figure out if this is worth it or not.
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the_lockpick 2019-01-04T16:29:59Z
2019-01-04T16:29:59Z
3.5
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Not quite as good as I remembered. I think my mind retained the concept - a tiny helper in a Toy Story world that repairs a broken family - than the game itself. Not that it's a bad game, mind, But there's very clearly so much more they could have done with the idea. There's a lot of fun little ideas for toys and their problems to help with through the game - an army of egg-men being terrorized by the family dog; a pirate who lost his will to be one after doing a virtuous act; star-crossed lovers, a mummy and a princess. But those descriptions are about all there is to those stories. None of the characters really develop full enough personalities to make these stories feel impactful. Instead, conversations with them often feel like a drag. Not only is the dialogue ultimatey fairly empty, the text moves bizarrely slow in many scenes, a move that I think is supposed to convey emphasis but feels more like a waste of time than anything.

There's flashes of what the game could have accomplished with its toys hiding in the main story, which focuses on reuniting the broken family Chibi-Robo lives with and reviving the discontinued Giga-Robo. There's a real sense of loss when it comes to those scenes - upon discovering Giga-Robo, you see a series of scenes accompanied by some very warped and sad music that suggest there was a time when the family was closer, an idea that becomes more powerful when placed next to the state of the family in the present - an unemployed father who spends more money than he has, putting his family in danger; a daughter whose communication skills have devolved entirely into her speaking in frog ribbits; a mother who tries to keep her family afloat but gets met with lies and apathy at every step. (The scene where she locks herself in her room rung very true to me.)

On most fronts, though, the game reveals absolutely nothing. Drake Redcrest the superhero reveals nothing about truth and justice, even as he poses questions about them; the Free Rangers who go AWOL don't actually let us know much about loyalty and free will; Mort and princess have little to say about love. Not that everything has to be inherently deep, of course, but they should at least offer more than their summaries and first impressions. Once you've talked to the characters for the first time, you've learned all you really need to. The dialogue isn't witty or textured in any way, and the characters are never really developed past their visual designs and dialogue quirks.

That said, the game itself manages a fair bit of novelty, at least at the start. When you begin, it's a delight just wandering around the house, discovering the different personalities that wander it and figuring out how to manoeuvre about everyday terrain as such a little character. Something as simple as just getting into the next room can be a struggle if the door is shut or blocked by someone else; getting onto a table can require climbing up a variety of objects. Hell, just climbing up the stairs in the foyer is a major task that requires Chibi-Robo to build a new apparatus entirely. All of these tasks, while maintaining your battery and recharging at outlets along the way. The game's day and night cycle keeps things interesting, as well, with a 5, 10, or 15 minute time limit (depending on what you choose) to accomplish what you want in your half-day before you have to give it a rest. That makes it so that you have to focus your tasks, to an extent, and encourages a stricter agenda for Chibi-Robo's goal to make everyone happy.

It starts to wear off by the end, once you've explored all of the game's 6 rooms and are basically left doing fetch quests for the various characters, climbing over the same obstacles to get to the same spots to see the same people. The day/night cycle becomes more of a nuisance past a certain point, where you're juggling a bunch of quests simultaneously and what you need to do may not fit as neatly into your allotted time slot, leading you to have not enough time to do what you wanted or too much time before you can move to the next half-day to focus on a bigger task or wait for a scripted event. Once you get more battery, it removes the struggle to conserve your battery and becomes a simple annoyance every few minutes when you remember you need to divert your pathway to plug in briefly.

Still - it's a pretty short game altogether, and knowing that finishing the extra quests won't really provide any great payoff means that you can walk away when the going gets dull pretty much whenever. And certainly for the first few hours it's a romp, worth sticking through until you decide to finish the main plot, anyway. Even if you do everything the game has to offer, it'll probably take 20 hours at the longest. And that the game stuck in my mind for the positive things instead of the negative must count for something, right?
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Azdiff 2016-04-06T17:42:11Z
2016-04-06T17:42:11Z
3.5
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Catalog

meadowforever Chibi-Robo! 2022-12-01T19:29:41Z
Gamecube • US
2022-12-01T19:29:41Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
fimozika ちびロボ! 2022-11-23T15:47:13Z
2022-11-23T15:47:13Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
chicomusic ちびロボ! 2022-10-30T06:30:25Z
2022-10-30T06:30:25Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
mudai ちびロボ! 2022-10-29T11:29:09Z
2022-10-29T11:29:09Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Paper_Okami ちびロボ! 2022-10-27T02:43:40Z
2022-10-27T02:43:40Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
kettlereturns ちびロボ! 2022-10-09T23:27:16Z
2022-10-09T23:27:16Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Vega_Arts ちびロボ! 2022-10-07T17:52:26Z
2022-10-07T17:52:26Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
georgerose ちびロボ! 2022-10-03T21:13:29Z
2022-10-03T21:13:29Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
majorasminion ちびロボ! 2022-09-24T05:48:48Z
2022-09-24T05:48:48Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ratfecal ちびロボ! 2022-09-23T22:40:30Z
2022-09-23T22:40:30Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
intopolaris Chibi-Robo! 2022-09-23T17:24:55Z
Gamecube • US
2022-09-23T17:24:55Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
bing_bong_barl ちびロボ! 2022-09-18T15:28:31Z
2022-09-18T15:28:31Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
CERO: All Ages
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x Disc
Franchises
Also known as
  • Chibi-Robo!
  • Chibi-Robo! Plug Into Adventure!
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  • moonpulp 2021-06-29 02:43:22.082935+00
    chibi-robo is great at completing odd jobs like picking up trash, cooking hamburgers, and fixing a broken marriage
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  • Bakkus 2021-07-09 18:23:11.772366+00
    The most underrated game ever made.
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  • longestseason 2022-06-03 23:43:32.403135+00
    i was expecting something totally different but still had fun playing this. the ds games are better imo
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