February 7, 2006Written By:
Chibi-Robo, a Gamecube exclusive in a year when we currently know of barely half a dozen being released for the system, is a game that can probably be pretty easily overlooked as just another "childish" Nintendo game, as it seems to share many of same kinds of colorful visuals and presentation. However, those who do find interest in the game may discover a pretty entertaining and charming, albeit quirky experience.
Chibi-Robo has you take the role of an inches-tall robot, charged with the task of helping clean up around the Sanderson residence, a task that will have you exploring every inch of the house. Now to a lot of people running around a house and picking up trash might seem as boring as the chores you do everyday in real life, but when you're barely the size of a soda can, the task starts to take on a whole new meaning, as simply climbing onto a couch or getting inside a shelf requires some real effort. Simply figuring out how to do things like get such a small robot on top of a bottom shelf or how to climb onto the rail of a stairwell and get through a massive bedroom door, were true eureka moments for me.
At first you start out with little more than the ability to walk around and collect the trash that's littered all over the floor, which is what you'll mostly be doing at the start of the game. On top of that you are always running on a battery with limited power, which you must recharge regularly in order to stay active. In order to reach more and more areas of the house you quickly begin earning and collecting upgrades and tools you can use to do gain various new abilities as you complete more objectives. Because of this the game very rarely makes you feel constrained. Even the very first room in the game is fairly large and has quite a bit to discover before you start venturing into other areas.
As you explore the Sanderson house you'll encounter the many characters that populate the world of Chibi-Robo, which happens to contain a pretty wild cast. There's the destitute Sanderson family which includes the overworked mother, her irresponsible husband, and their daughter... who thinks she's a frog. As you help keep their house clean, you'll discover that the family has its own set of emotional issues which you must eventually help them overcome through the game's main quest, which covers a surprisingly deep storyline considering the game's initial impression. In addition to the main quest with the Sanderson family you will also encounter a Toy Story-like cast of characters throughout the house whom you can also help out through a series of sidequests, each of which, along with the main quest, can give off a genuine sense of satisfaction throughout the game.
Each of the characters who make up Chibi-Robo's colorful cast bring something unique and entertaining to the experience, which is part of what makes the game so charming. Most of the rest of the game's charm comes from the game's quirky audio design. Every footstep you take as well as pretty much any other action you perform in the game gives off a unique, subtle, and cute little sound that gives the adventure much of its sense of charm and never gets old. This goes together excellently with the game's above average music track and while I can't help but imagine how much good voice acting could have contributed to this game, the Banjo-Kazooie style character dialogue noises are tolerable at worst and at best, really entertaining.
If there's any complaint I would have with Chibi-Robo it would have to be with the game's graphics. While the game does good with it's colorful design and uses it to create a really charming experience, most polygon counts in the game are pretty average and textures tend to be really muddy, which takes away from what could been a much cleaner, more colorful looking game the likes of Katamari. Some other people who play Chibi-Robo may complain about the tasks of picking up trash and scrubbing the floors possibly getting old and repetitive after doing it day after day in the same areas but I personally never really felt that way. The game is also on the relatively short side, as the main quest for most people will take less than a dozen hours.
Chibi-Robo is a game that manages to charm the crap out of you with its cute audio design and vibrant cast of characters. It also manages at times to give off a real sense of accomplishment as you explore each area of the house collecting items and completing quests. Although it isn't the longest or most technologically flashy game out there, Chibi-Robo should at least prove to be a highly entertaining experience for the gamer who's interested.8.3/
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