As promised I stood by my little hero, and downloaded Chibi Robo Zip Lash last Friday. Even though platformers aren’t really my sort of game, I just couldn’t let him venture out there all alone, now could I? Plus I’d read somewhere that this might be Nintendo’s last try to get some more attention to the 10cm high robot. If I’d had any say in this, they would have made a real sequel to the GameCube game or to Okaeri Chibi Robo, released in Japan only. I loved the sim adventures Chibi had as a cleaning robot in a normal family home. But I digress: Nintendo decided to try and give the IP a new road to explore, and this is it: Chibi Robo Zip Lash for the 3DS.
What can you expect in the game? Little aliens have invaded Earth, stealing resources along with everyone’s favorite snacks, and it’s up to Chibi-Robo and his partner Telly to save the day. Chibi-Robo travels the world, foiling the aliens’ plans and rescuing any snacks he might come across. As Chibi Robo explores all the areas he can use his plug as a whip to destroy enemies, collect items, use it as a grapple hook to get to certain areas, or swing like a veritable Indiana Jones across gaps and pits.
His electrical chord starts of short, but by collecting orbs he can extend it in a way that he can reach everywhere he needs to go. When he sends the plug out at an angle, it can ricochet off of walls, which gives you all kinds of possibilities. Along the way he must make sure to charge often, as his power supply depletes while moving, and definitely if he falls.
In the levels I’ve done Chibi pretty much moved under his own steam aside from a level by balloon, but I’ve read further along in the game he is able to skateboard and even wakeboard to proceed. The game doesn’t send aggressive enemies out there or makes it neigh impossible to progress by having you be a wizard pressing multiple buttons simultaneously. No, the pace is fine, at least it is for me, you’re have to solve little puzzles to get where you want to be. To my inexperienced platforming skills, this is a nice game to play. The mechanics work just fine, and it doesn’t get frustratingly difficult. Chibi exudes all the charm that we have come to expect from him and the levels look good and have an interesting layout.
There are lots of things to collect, medals, coins, Chibi Tots, costumes and snacks. It’s weird that the snacks you collect are real world brand-name snacks but it’s weird in a Chibi way: the friends he meets who ask him to look out for their favorite snacks made me think of Park Patrol and the friends he meets there. The conversations he has with them ( or rather, the talks they have with him, as Chibi is the quiet kind) are quaint. I do wonder at the choice to make the search for the snacks like looking at a commercial! Could it be that the game is sponsored that way?
One thing that makes the game less enjoyable is the destination wheel: at the end of each level you shoot your zip lash trying to take out a bronze, silver or golden UFO. Depending on which one you manage to hit, you get 1,2 or 3 spins on the wheel, and that wheel decides which level you play next. Problem is, if you’re out of luck, you can end up replaying the same levels over and over again. Although the levels are certainly playable more then once ( you won’t manage to find all collectibles in one try) I don’t like how it’s forced on you: I’d rather decide to replay a level because I want to, not because I have to.
Chibi has its own Amiibo, with which he turns into Super Chibi in the game. Plus, if you tap the figurine while in your Chibi house you get a capsule out of the capsule machine, giving you collectible figures. The game works with 56 other Amiibo too, with which Chibi can dress as that Amiibo. Additionally, other costumes, not the Amiibo ones, are earned from rescuing baby aliens. These only appear in a level after clearing it once. Getting one back to its parents can earn you coins or an immediate costume. Sometimes you get numbers to post to Miiverse. Collect enough for an area, and you’ll get a five digit code that could force the baby alien to drop the costume the next time you get it rescued. There are about five costumes for each world.
Overall though I can safely say I like the game, but that’s me talking as someone who isn’t into platformers. I like the lack of stress, the lack of timed levels and the way I can play it without getting frustrated. I love how Nintendo tried to add extras to the game, like with the costumes and the interaction with MiiVerse. I love the Chibi charm and the weirdness at times in the game. So I don’t regret my download in any way. If, however, you are a huge fan of the platformers like Super Mario Bros, then maybe this might not be challenging enough for you.