Chibi-Robo! Plug into Adventure!
- Platforms: Nintendo Gamecube, Nintendo Wii (Japan Only)
- Suggested Platform: Nintendo Gamecube
- Developer: Skip Ltd.
- Genre: Adventure, Platformer
- Release Date: 02/08/06 (NA)
- Why Play It?: Gameplay, Charm, Adventure, Music
- Why Skip It?: Very Cutesy and Childish (on the surface)
Chibi-Robo! is a fun little game where you play as a tiny house-cleaning robot with a simple goal: Make your family as happy as possible to reach the top of the Chibi-Robo rankings to achieve the title of “Super Chibi-Robo”. It seems simple enough. At first, you simply wander around the house (which is huge, since you’re only a few inches tall) picking up garbage, cleaning spills and grime, finding spare change, and collecting new equipment, but as the game progresses, the over-arching story (and many side-stories) come into play, giving you more concrete goals to focus on. Chibi-Robo has a battery, however, so you can only play continuously for so long before running out of juice, and having to find an outlet to recharge. At first, this mechanic seems annoying, having your explorations constantly halted by a trip to an outlet, but it actually creates a clever pacing, requiring you to perform small tasks and clean up bit-by-bit. The more you clean and do favors for others, the more Happy Points you accrue and the higher maximum battery charge will increase.
This requires you to put off exploring new areas until you feel confident enough to make it to another outlet. There is plenty of equipment to find, enabling you to access more areas or part of a quest, like a blaster that can shoot holes in certain parts of the walls, making the exploration not unlike a Metroidvania; exploring, finding something you need, then backtracking to progress.
During the day, you’ll do favors for your (mostly) human masters, the Sandersons, consisting of Dad, Mom, Jenny (the little girl who thinks she’s part frog), and the dog, Tao. Whenever the humans aren’t around, however, which is mostly during the night,all of the toys in the house come to life, Toy Story style. The toys will help you achieve small goals and gain Happy Points, new Equipment, and even costumes. Each toy also has a fairly large side story that will take most of (and even some will take after) the main story to complete. For a seemingly childish game, the main and side-stories take on some pretty heavy themes like divorce, loss, unrequited love, insecurity, self-exploration and even addiction. With all of these side stories to complete and plenty of collectibles to find you’ll find yourself playing a good 15 or more hours on your first play-through, if you wish to accomplish everything. The only complaints I can really think of for this game is its cutesy nature, lack of difficulty, and seemingly shoe-horned in combat. You’ll do a bit of fighting, but it quickly becomes boring and even obsolete once you acquire everything you need from combat.
Another very unique and interesting aspect of Chibi-Robo! is the way the music is handled. There are themes for every character, as well as a day and night theme (as well as a few extra bonus themes). However, the day and night themes (which you’ll hear the most of) have their melodies removed. Instead, each step you take as Chibi-Robo will add a melody. If you carry your plug to run a little faster, the tempo will pick up as well, to match Chibi-Robo’s faster footsteps. Each surface you step on as Chibi-Robo makes different sounds as well (tile, wood, carpet, grass, etc.).
Chibi-Robo! was also released on the Nintendo Wii in Japan as a part of their “New Play Control!” series of Gamecube games with added motion controls. Sounds like it could be neat, but I’m not Japanese, so I haven’t gotten a crack at it. Ultimately, Chibi-Robo! had relatively poor sales and is regarded as a cult classic. Those who have played it, love it.
Chibi-Robo! is a great game with fun, memorable characters, plenty to find, accomplish, and explore, and great stories and side stories. If you’ve never played Chibi-Robo! and want a relaxing, enjoyable time, definitely check it out.