Review: Chibi Robo
Posted May-17 2007 by ron
For Gamecube, runs on Wii, optional 60Hz mode
To be clear though, the low-level gameplay in Chibi Robo is shallow. You climb onto low
ledges by running against them, you can pull out low drawers to make steps, and you can
pick up and carry your own power plug to be able to run
a little faster. And that's about it. Combat is largely a non-issue.
With a few exceptions, most of which are optional side-quests, skilled control isn't really required for Chibi Robo. It's not that the exploration, climbing and figuring out paths isn't fun, it's actually quite interesting, but it's not really the point.
We started from the ground by climbing up that cable in the background and have then rotor-floated over to the current location.
What makes Chibi Robo really interesting are the time-based ingredients and of course the adventure-worthy characters and story progression. Each day is split into a day phase and a night phase, and both are timed to fifteen minutes (actually it starts at five and there's the option for ten, but players can freely select between these three, and we don't really expect anyone to choose less than fifteen). If time's up, you'll be back at the Chibi House in the living room. While your interactions with the family should be done during the day, while they are awake, a slew of other characters come alive only at night.
Whenever the humans aren't looking, the toys in the house come alive. That actually starts to make sense as you discover more of the story, and we're not going to spoil it now. Anyway, especially at night there are lots of … things to talk to.
Going purely by the numbers, Chibi Robo's environment seems limited: seven rooms, an outdoor area and … something else. It's a pretty complex playground though, with multiple paths to take in each room. You might think of each room's ground level as a hub from where multiple obstacle courses branch off, leading you all around the room at some height, and usually ending in some kind of reward, be it a stash of Moolah, a character to talk to, or an item that turns out essential to advancing the story.
We could play a mini-game with this guy lurking in the basement, but he really doesn't inspire much trust, does he?
Even though the environments are static, there is a whole lot to do, and of course having interesting characters, each with their own stories – and the idea of giving life to toys certainly opened the door for a wide range of personalities and agendas – is a great motivation for touring up and down the house.
Some of the bolder toys are pretty active also during the day. These guys are busy scheming against the family's dog.
You can spend the game days just with cleaning duties, and the game does rewards that with upgrades. However, the story will not advance until you go through certain conversations or solve certain mysteries, so even though it is impossible to fail in Chibi Robo, amassing points alone doesn't move the game forward in any meaningful way.