My introduction to [i]Chibi-Robo[/i] was not until well after its release date. I had heard of the title mentioned, but it didn’t make enough of a blip on my radar to garner a pre-release glance. Having logged a very significant amount of time on it I can safely say that it is one of the more quirky games to come out recently and while not as strange as the original Katamari Damacy it definitely gives me the same quirky vibe.
[i]Chibi-Robo[/i] is at its core simply a cleaning game. I know that sounds odd, but it is what you will spend the bulk of your time doing. You, [i]Chibi-Robo[/i], were given to little Jenny Sanderson for her 8th birthday. In addition to being a toy you also help out around the house by cleaning up and doing various other tasks. An evil plot unfolds that pits [i]Chibi-Robo[/i] against the evil Spydoz of Macroware Robotics, Inc. The relatively simple story and concept of this game lend it to being very open ended and quite addictive.
The visuals in [i]Chibi-Robo[/i] are pretty standard fare and there are times where the camera acts up and gets a little irritating. Sound wise the game features quite possibly the most annoying “jibber jabber” for the simulated talking and without a way to skip cutscenes will have you diving for the mute button.
Your time in the game is divided into nights and days. At the end of the night or the day you must return to the Chibi House to recharge and tally up your points. You are also able to do this at any point during your daily adventures. Initially each day and night is only 5 minutes long which makes the time go by very fast. As you collect moolah, the currency in this fictitious place, you will be able to purchase up to 10 or even 15 minute “segments” of gameplay. I prefer the 15 minute days myself. The house is a very different place at night versus day so both times of day serve unique purposes. The more you play, the more of the house you are able to explore.
As the game progresses you will be collecting various things: moolah, happy points, and scrap. Moolah is used to buy upgrades and various tools. Your happy points are awarded for cleaning and accomplishing tasks in the game and are used to rank you on the overall Chibi Ranking list. Achieving a certain rank thrusts you into Super Chibi-Robo which is just an upgraded version of your former self.
In addition to new areas you can upgrade [i]Chibi-Robo[/i] with tools, weapons, and various vehicles. These will all help you accomplish the ultimate goal of keeping your host family, the Sandersons, happy.
I don’t want to reveal too many of the secrets along the way as discovery is part of the reason this game has kept my attention so long. At the end of the day [i]Chibi-Robo[/i] is actually a really fun game for all ages. As I mentioned earlier, the Charlie Brown style jibber jabber will drive you insane, but the talking is only heavy in the early stages of the game or when you initiate it, which you have to do at times. Since [i]Chibi-Robo[/i] is a little quirky and not a sleeper hit quite like Katamari was, I am going to recommend it as a rental first. For me, it’s part of my library for good, but others may not feel the same.