Game Eaters

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Chibi-Robo is a new exclusive for the GameCube. You effectively play a little household robot in a house... think of a bipedal Roomba or Rosie from The Jetsons and you get the idea. You cook, clean, eradicate pests, and have to deal with the Toy Story-esque assortment of stuffed creatures that magically wake to life when the humans aren't looking. There are a couple of reviews out there for Chibi-Robo. A good number of them are relatively negative, citing how the Pikmin-esque day/night cycle and short "battery life" and legs of the Chibi-Robo hinder the ability to explore the game world.

Frankly, that's a load of bull.

The game gives plenty of options to upgrade your robot so that it has new means of mobility, extended "battery life" and longer time limits. To obtain these, you need to do two things: gain money and "spread the happiness," that is, make people (and sentient toys) happy. You make people happy just by doing regular chores, cleaning the dog's paw prints, picking up trash and occasionally doing a special favor for a family member. This earns you no small amount of "happy points" and "moolah," which raises your Chibi-Robo ranking (increasing your battery life) and allows you to buy upgrades to extend your day/night cycle. You can also buy new tools, and with them, you can start hunting little robotic pests and use their scrap to make teleportation devices to beam you across the house in a hurry. Game play is surprisingly leisurely for a game that has a timer as a primary mechanic, and there's always a power outlet nearby to max out Chibi-Robo's cells.

None of the reviewers completely miss these game mechanics. All the "problems" of the game are merely challenges to be overcome in a clear, logical manner. Why the frustration, then?

I think it largely comes down to the fact that your one compelling motive to do anything in the game is to make others happy. If this concept is not appealing to you, or if you find the characters annoying, you'll never get anywhere. On the other hand, if you're the type who likes putting a smile on others' faces, the pace of the game really picks up. Spending a little effort to do favors for individual NPCs yields hefty rewards. Despite the low detail of the graphics, the art style is cute, the family has some genuine dysfunctions that present many opportunities for you to cheer them up, and the music is top-notch in a Maxis sort of way.

You're a household robot, not the owner of the place. You're supposed to be patient, hard-working, and well-meaning. If you're willing to play the role, the game rewards you with plot and upgrades. If you're not willing to buy the fiction, that's not the fault of the game.


  • Bless the Japanese and their cute games... It's soooo refreshing that they do games about doctors, lawyers, cheerleaders in black trenchcoats and cute robots with a plug dangling down their back!

    By Blogger Clara, at 6:48 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home