Screenshot
Screenshot

With a spin and a zip, Chibi-Robo takes aim in Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash!

Back in 2006, a quirky little robot came to the Nintendo Gamecube in the form of Chibi-Robo: Plug Into Adventure! The game featured the tiny little robot cleaning and solving problems for his owners to collect “Happy Points”. The game was well received, but seemingly didn’t sell too well. I remember as a kid wanting to buy it, but it never being restocked after the first shipment. This led me to pick up the game later on in life, alongside thew Nintendo DS game Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol. While these games were fun, their gameplay is vastly different from the newly released Zip Lash, but is it for better or for worst?

3DS_ChibiRobo_scrn01_bmp_jpgcopyChibi-Robo: Zip Lash has Chibi-Robo cleaning up after wasteful people yet again, but instead of just trying to save us from being filthy, the little robot is trying to save our snacks as well! Aliens have invaded earth and are taking everyone’s favorite snacks, leaving Chibi-Robo to find and collect them! These snacks feature real-life brands such as Mentos, Charm’s Blow Pops, and even other international brands! While I was weary at first at what seems to be blatant product placement, but it actually fits in pretty well with the game. Upon collecting the snacks and giving them to extremely colorful NPCs, you’ll get a little fact or info about the snack that you’ve given. It really is pretty interesting to learn more about snacks from around the world, so I can’t say that I don’t like collecting the snacks. Along with the collectible snacks, there’s also hidden Chibi-tots (smaller, childlike Chibi-Robo) and other collectables to find in every single level. My personal favorite collectible are the costumes for Chibi-Robo. I’m rocking a Dashboard Dancer one currently!

3DS_ChibiRoboZipLash_Gameplay_01_bmp_jpgcopyThe previous Chibi-Robo titles have been 3D giants, with you focusing behind Chibi-Robo as he cleaned the scum. In Zip Lash however, you’ll find Chibi-Robo in a familiar 2D platformer style. While I was nervous at first about this transition, after playing the game over the course of the last week, I can honestly say that I’m not sure I want Chibi-Robo to go back to the previous gameplay style. Using Chibi-Robo’s plug as a whip and a grappling hook feels very solid, and watching the plug bounce and ricochet off of walls to climb to higher areas just feels right. In some of the later levels you’ll encounter special outlets that will allow you to be super-charged with an ability such as flame or ice. Flame superheats Chibi-Robo allowing him to burn through enemies and solid rock, while ice allows him to run quickly over water, freezing it under his feet. These mechanics might not make much sense, but they’re a ton of fun to use. The Zip-Lash overall feels like an interesting take on a whip, and by collecting boost balls you can extend the reach of your Zip-Lash even more. When you’ve got a longer Zip-Lash, it’s incredibly easy to get around a stage quickly if you can hit angles just right. Each world ends in a boss fight, and using Chibi-Robo’s Zip-Lash in combat is tricky, but a ton of fun. I can’t say I’mĀ against Chibi-Robo returning to his roots in the future, but I’d love to see more of what they could do with this mechanic.

3DS_ChibiRoboZipLash_Gameplay_03_bmp_jpgcopyThe game features Amiibo support as well, coming with an included Amiibo for $39.99 in the US, or $29.99 without the Amiibo. Using Chibi-Robo’s adorable Amiibo allows you to become Super Chibi-Robo, a golden form of Chibi-Robo that has a speed boost and a greater wattage, meaning you have to refill less. This is especially nice on stages where you struggle, but don’t want to skip the stage as the game will offer to you. Be careful though, at first you can only use Super Chibi-Robo once a day. By using it and leveling up the Amiibo though, you’ll be able to use the ability more often. Leveling up the Amiibo also increases the chance that you’ll get rare items from the Amiibo-exclusive Toy Capsule Machine. The toy Capsule Machine is exclusive to Chibi-Robo Amiibo owners and unlocks cute collectible figures that you can pose for pictures as well as bonus stages. While it would’ve been nice having these included in the main-game, the pricing for the Amiibo bundle is fair and feels like a genuine reason to have an Amiibo.

3DS_ChibiRobo_scrn08_bmp_jpgcopyThe gameplay is fantastic, but where Chibi-Robo excels is the charm. The graphics are clean and crisp, with a few slight issues here and there with edges, an obvious limit of the 3DS’ graphic engine. The colors in each stage really stand out against Chibi-Robo’s metal body as well as the bright orange and blue spots to climb to with the Zip-Lash. Overall, I’d actually be interested to see Zip Lash come to the Wii U with better graphics, as the concept could easily be brought over. The music however is bright and bouncy, nothing super memorable but still fun and it never got annoying to listen to while replaying stages.

With that, we hit my biggest issue with Chibi-Robo Zip Lash. Upon clearing a stage you’ll be presented with three UFO. By using the Zip-Lash your goal is to hit one of these UFO, with each giving you another chance at spinning the Destination Wheel. Bronze will nab you one, Silver two, and gold three. The Destination Wheel is how you’ll decide which level you’ll end up in next. You can buy panels for the wheel using the in-game currency, but this still feels like a bit of a chore to go around the board. I would’ve much prefered going in order or selecting the stages.

Overall, Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash is a huge jump from the series roots, but it might be for the best. While some might argue that action platformers are a crowded bunch now, well made ones can certainly do well in today’s market. With Chibi-Robo’s charm and excentric cast of characters, I personally believe it to be worth picking up. The story is a bit lackluster, but the gameplay is some of the most fun I’ve had on the 3DS this summer. Now, can we get Chibi-Robo for Smash please?

Pros:
  • Quirky Characters & Tons of Charm.
  • Fun level design with tons of hidden collectables.
  • Well done Amiibo support justifies the Amiibo.
  • Seeing Chibi-Robo in a tiny hula-skirt.
Cons:
  • Destination Wheel feels a bit out of place.
  • Controls can take a few levels to get used to. Being able to customize them would be nice.
Graphics Pixl Score 4 4
Story Pixl Score 3 3
Sound Pixl Score 4 4
Controls Pixl Score 4 4
Fun Factor Pixl Score 5 5