Game Review: Chibi Robo – Zip Lash

I am an avid Amiibo collector, so when I heard that the game would ship with a Chibi Robo Amiibo, I just had to pick it up. I decided to at least give the game a shot, and I might have been better to just trade the game off without subjecting myself to a very poorly made game.Chibi-Robo-Zip-Lash-screenshot-0101

With Super Mario Maker and Yoshi’s Woolly World all being released around the same time, not to mention the Donkey Kong game that came out a while ago, making a platformer seems to be Nintendo’s safe zone. The only 3D style game they have really released lately has been Super Mario 3D world, and even then it’s not a traditional 3D game like Mario 64, Mario Sunshine and the Mario Galaxy series. I know I just referenced console 3D games, but the 3DS is very much capable of a 3D platformer.

Where Mario could transcend his gaming perspectives and work well in 3D and 2D, Chibi Robo doesn’t seem to have the same luck here. The original Gamecube Chibo Robo is a well loved 3D platformer to those who remember it. Putting this character in a 2D platformer just doesn’t work well enough.

The story, or rather lack of one is that aliens are stealing resources on Earth. Chibi Robo, watching the events unfold on TV, decides to go stop them. You don’t really get much more than that. Occasionally you’ll get a line of dialogue that refers to the aliens, and that’s about it. You’ll visit a variety of places as you progress on your journey, but the simple block by block design makes each area seem far too repetitive.

Chibi-Robo-Zip-Lash-screenshot-20As you complete a level you’ll be faced with probably the worst game design choice in the game, a spinning wheel of chance. Normally this type of mechanic is reserved for extra lives or some bonus coins, here they use it to plot out what level you tackle next. If you don’t get the roll you want, you’ll be forced to replay the level that you land on just to get another chance to roll to the level you want. You can counter this by buying number wedges to replace others on the wheel from the currency you collect in the game. It is easily the worst mechanic in the game, and we are far from done here.

Chibi Robo’s main method of attack is throwing or swinging out his plug cord. You can attack enemies with a short quick strike and a long strike that you build up with different bubbles that you get from bashing badguys and smashing blocks. Some puzzles require you to extend your reach as far as you can to hit multiple areas as your plug bounces from surface to surface. Some of the puzzles are fun, engaging, and well thought out. The smaller attack can only be used diagonal or horizontal, you cannot aim with it like the longer attack allows you. The longer attack requires a charge up that takes way too long. In some areas, the time needed to charge up is so minimal that it requires almost twitch style reflexes or it’s game over. When the attack isn’t time forced, it works well and can be fun to use.

Some levels in the game are well done and you can start to see an almost brilliance in the game design, but these levels are so chibi-robo-zip-lash-screenshot-4few and so far apart that only maybe 4-5 levels in the whole game stand out. Once in a while you’ll be introduced to a new mechanic in the game, as it tries to shake things up occasionally, only to rarely see it used again.

As you discover hidden areas and collect coins and extended reach bubbles, you’ll start to see food items in the game that you deliver to certain characters for costume pieces. I didn’t think much of it until I saw Mentos, and then I realized that you are finding real food items that exist in real life, and they talk about them as if they are pitching a commercial to you. Eventually as I went through the game, I ignored the collectibles, ran past the little robots you have to catch, and didn’t feel the need to rescue any of the little aliens in the game, of which you have to replay each level to do so. The only collectible worth grabbing is the garbage items as it raises your watts, which is the currency you use to retry a level.

Every world or so will have a vehicle level, and you’ll pilot a variety of them. The Submarine is by far the worst as you move with such sluggish speed you’ll often wonder if you are moving at all. This slow moving concept will continue in a boss battle and is by far the worst section of the game. When you die in the game you start back at a checkpoint, but in a vehicle you go back to the game over screen and have to pay a fee to retry the level. To make matters worse, when you select go back to your base of operations, you’ll pay the fee as well.

11The music in the game almost seems like they went to a royalty free music website and just grabbed what they could. It’s uninspiring, bland, and incredibly generic. I can’t honestly remember any of it. I remember playing Rayman Legends and the music in that platformer was incredible. The personality in that game is infectious. I just wish Chibo Robo had even a pinch of that. The voice acting in the game is the same as Animal Crossing, just warbled gibberish. Nintendo has such a vast palette of characters that just beg for voice acting. Chibo Robo has a children’s show vibe to it, and a solid voice cast would have added much to the game.

Amiibo support is kinda fun, as you can dress up Chibo Robo in a variety of costumes. But I wish they changed his attacks as well, as using the Hook Shot as a Link Chibi Robo would have been fun. It’s fun dressing him up, I just wish the Amiibo support was more engrossing.

All in all, Chibo Robo is a platformer that is marred by bad game design choices, bland level design, and a level select system that borders on the bizarre. It’s uninspiring, repetitive and very mediocre. It has its moments of platforming brilliance, but they come around as often as the single 3 on that level wheel, just not often enough.

If you are a long time fan of Chibi Robo then chances are you already are planning on buy this game, regardless of the quality. There are just so many better 2D platformers out there to really justify owning this title, as the ones out there are just far better.

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