Citrusoft Presents the Chibi-Robo Product Line!

CHIBIROBOHello everyone and welcome to Citrusoft, the leading manufacturer of fictional robots! Today on this blog tour, I’m going to show you our most successful product line: Chibi-Robo!  And yes, this is just a creative way for me to write a blog about all the Chibi-Robo games in the series, in honor of the recently released Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash on the 3DS.

Chibi-Robo: Plug Into Adventure (GameCube)

Chibi-Robo’s first outing was on the GameCube. In this 3-D adventure, Chibi-Robo is a birthday present to Jenny, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sanderson.  Chibi-Robo is a small little cleaning robot, only about four inches high.  Most of what you do in the game is explore the giant house, picking up trash and finding messes and stains to scrub away with a toothbrush.  But be careful because Chibi-Robo runs on electricity, and if he runs out, you’ll collapse and lose all the hard earned money and Happy Points after your last save.  So you’ll need to find plug outlets to charge up Chibi-Robo before that happens (he carries a little plug cord around with him).  You use the money and Happy Points to buy upgrades for Chibi-Robo, which will let him stay out longer without having to recharge, among other things.  You’ll also have to figure out how to explore the house and get from point A to point B, which is a challenge since you are so small.

At night when the Sanderson family is in bed, the toys in the house come to life and Chibi-Robo can talk to them and help them and take on missions from the toys. So it’s kind of like a quirky, Japanese Toy Story.  You’ll befriend playthings like a Buzz Lightyear-ish action figure named Drake Redcrest, help out a group of egg-shaped army men called the Free Rangers, and chat with a caterpillar squeak toy owned by the family dog.  By talking with the toys and helping out the Sanderson family, you’ll learn there’s a story behind all this with a bit of drama.  You see, Mr. Sanderson lost his job, but still spends money on toys (such as Chibi-Robo).  This upsets Mrs. Sanderson so much that she threatens to get a divorce.  This causes Jenny to be socially withdrawn and wear a frog hat and only speak in ribbits.  So not only must Chibi-Robo clean the house and help out the toys, he must also show Mr. Sanderson how to help out more around the house, convince Mrs. Sanderson that her husband still loves her, and help Jenny grow out of her frog hat phase.  There’s more to it than that, but I won’t spoil it anymore for you.

There’s a reason why this game has such a quirky, dramatic feel to it, and that’s because the game was developed by Skip. Even before Skip was called Skip, they had a reputation for making really quirky, unusual games.  One title they made while they were a company called Love de Luc was a PS2 game called Chulip.  The goal in that game was to kiss everyone in town, so you had to learn their schedules and figure out when would be a good time to smooch.  It was kind of like the parts of Majora’s Mask or Harvest Moon where you have to learn the town schedules to talk with certain people.  Surprisingly, Chulip came to the US, but it wasn’t very much fun, unfortunately.  Other games Skip made include a Japan-only RPG called Moon, where you play as someone who follows a hero and discovers his not-so-heroic aftermath.  Townspeople will complain about him barging into their houses and taking their treasure chests without permission and buying all the good armor!  They also made a PSOne game that came to the US called Incredible Crisis which was a collection of mini-games about a family who is having a very bad day!  Another game they made that didn’t make it to the US was a Wii title called Captain Rainbow, where you are a super hero helping out various Nintendo characters like Birdo, Crazy Tracy from Link’s Awakening, and Little Mac.  You can see some Captain Rainbow trophies in the newest Smash Bros. game.  I can understand why this game never came to the US, which I won’t go into here, but I still wish I could’ve played it.  One thing that many Skip games have in common is that if there is a dog in the game, it’s always named Tao.  Chulip had a dog named Tao, Incredible Crisis had a dog named Tao, and even the first Chibi-Robo game named the family dog Tao.  I bet you didn’t realize how much of a history Chibi-Robo had, huh?

The first Chibi-Robo had a re-release in Japan on the Wii. You know how some GameCube games got a Wii version with the tagline: “Play It On Wii” like Pikmin, Metroid Prime, and Mario Tennis?  Well, Chibi-Robo got that, too, in Japan.  It’s too bad that it was never released in the US as well, because if there’s one game that deserves a second chance, it’s Chibi-Robo!

Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol (DS)

Luckily a few years later, we did get a sequel of sorts on the DS. What’s weird is that this game was sold exclusively at Wal-Mart!  I think if you want to find it at other stores now, you’ll have to buy it used.  Anyway, in this game, you play as a different Chibi-Robo in a line designed to help save the environment by cleaning up parks in cities.  So you’re set in front of a run-down park and must plant flowers and grow them all over the plot, as well as set up furniture and other park structures.  Some can be useful to Chibi-Robo like a windmill that provides power so Chibi-Robo can plug himself in while working in the park (he still runs on electricity here, too).  You water flowers by using a little squirt gun and produce seeds by playing music to make the flowers happy.  You must also fight off little pollution monsters called Smoglings who try and turn your flowers black.  All these actions in the game use the DS touch screen and stylus.

So the game is a bit different from the first, as it’s more of a park simulation game rather than having lots of exploration like the original title. But across the street from the park, you can walk around and explore some places. Like a flower shop where you can sell your flowers for money so you can buy upgrades, a burger stand called “Monkey Burger,” and a back alley where toys hang out.  Yes, you can talk to toys in this game, too.  There’s a race car, a Monkey Burger Kids Meal toy, a couple of soda can mascots, a lone Free Ranger army egg from the first game, and more.  If you talk with them and help solve their problems, they’ll help you in the garden doing various chores for you!  Even though this game is quite a bit different from the first, it’s every bit as charming and fun, and has a nice environmental message, too.

Okaeri! Chibi-Robo! Happy Richie Ōsōji! (DS)

The next Chibi-Robo game was also on the DS, but I don’t know much about it because it never came to the US! Argh!  And I really wanted to play it, too.  I guess I could’ve imported it, but Chibi-Robo games are pretty text heavy, and I was afraid the language barrier would’ve been too steep.  Anyway, supposedly this game plays more like the first, where you clean up a giant house for a family to make them happy.  But this time, the house you clean is Jenny’s from the first game, and she’s all grown up and has a family of her own!  And that’s really all I know about it.  Man I wish Nintendo of America would’ve released it here!

Chibi-Robo: Photo Finder (3DS)

A couple of years ago, Nintendo released another new Chibi-Robo title, but this one was digital only on the 3DS eShop. But even though it wasn’t quite as good as the other games, it was every bit as creative, and still fun. In this one, Chibi-Robo is in the future, and he can even do things like warp from place to place a la Star Trek (and his partner Telly Vision is now a cell phone).  Your job is to help a museum curator collect “Nostaljunk,” or photos of artifacts from the past.  Armed with a camera and some special film, you must help Chibi-Robo take pictures and send them back to the museum to be put in exhibits.

So what you do is buy special film that has an outline of a shape of something you must take a picture of in real life using the 3DS camera. It could be a drink cup, plug outlet, coffee mug, or harder items like a GameCube!  Then you take a picture of it and Chibi-Robo will warp into the past, pick up the outline of the photo, and take it to the future where it is represented in 3-D for a museum exhibit.  So really, the game is like a picture taking scavenger hunt.  You’re graded on how well the outline fits the shape, so make sure to have a good foreground/background contrast.  I guess you could cheat and take pictures of things on your computer screen, but it was more fun for me to walk around town finding things like a Yield sign and a vending machine to take a picture of.  I think the only one I had trouble with was the sushi shape, since that’s not as common here as in Japan.  Luckily you don’t have to take pictures of ALL the shapes.

To earn money to buy the film, you must warp to places like a kitchen and a garage, and clean like only Chibi-Robo knows how. You can also play mini-games by talking to toys.  You can play target practice with UFOs by talking to Drake Redcrest, help cook food and pick ingredients from the fridge with a pair of ketchup and mustard bottles, and clean with a bear-shaped scrubbing sponge.  The sponge is especially funny because he stars in his own commercials for his product and dances in them like a music video, and he’s basically a big parody of Justin Bieber (his initials are even J.B.).  There are other toys to talk to and play with as well.

Once you collect enough “Nostaljunk” pictures, you’ll help the museum curator get over his problems and you’ll beat the game. While I didn’t think Photo Finder was as good as the other Chibi-Robo games, I still had a lot of fun with it and it certainly had that quirky, creative feel that the others had.  And it was a perfect downloadable title.  Not big enough for a full cartridge, but fun enough to carry around with you in case you find something to take a picture of!  I think you can still download this game on the 3DS, and I recommend you do if you can!

Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash (3DS)

And the latest in the Chibi-Robo series was just recently released. And surprisingly (or not so surprisingly), it’s a fairly standard-ish 2-D platformer.  Chibi Robo uses his plug cord to whip enemies like Castlevania, and also fling it at certain objects to latch onto them to climb up or swing like Bionic Commando.  He can even find items that give his cord a longer reach so he can whip his cord out further distances.  In the game, Chibi-Robo and Telly Vision are cleaning a space station orbiting Earth, when they spot some tiny aliens about to invade the planet.  Then they see a news report about Earth’s resources being stolen by little aliens, and Earth’s snacks are being taken, too!  Well that just tears it!  You can mess with Earth’s resources, but when you start taking snacks, Chibi-Robo has a problem with that!  So Chibi-Robo and Telly Vision hop into their little flying house and rocket down to Earth to stop the aliens and save the world!

What’s weird about this game is that it lacks that unusual quirky charm that the other Chibi-Robo games had. I’m not even sure that Skip made this one.  Don’t get me wrong, Zip Lash is NOT a bad game at all, at least from the first half I’ve played so far as of this writing.  But it’s definitely not as good as say, Kirby or Mario or Yoshi platformers.  But that’s OK, it’s still a cute and colorful 2-D outing and I’m happy with it.  It’s just lacking that quirky spark that the other games in the series had.

There is ONE weird thing about the game, though. Remember when I said the aliens were stealing Earth’s snacks?  Well, hidden in each level you can find a couple of snacks they stole.  Actually there are a lot of hidden items, and the game certainly encourages replayability.  Anyway, the snacks you find are actually real life name brand snacks from around the world!  Some of the brands you may have heard of, like Utz, Mentos, PEZ, and Tootsie Rolls, while others are unfamiliar brands to me such as some of the snacks from Germany and Japan.  I’m a little disappointed Frito-Lay didn’t get in on the act, as I have close relatives who work there and their home office is near where I live (I used to work there myself when I was in college).  Anyway, keeping with the tradition of Chibi-Robo talking to toys, in each world you can find a plaything like a toy airplane named Toby or a cymbal monkey named Crash.  They’ll request certain snacks and if you found them and give them to the toys, they’ll reward you with bonus money and other goodies.  I just thought the whole snack thing was a little odd.  But still cute.

The game even has some Amiibo functionality. You can get a bundle copy of the game that includes a Chibi-Robo Amiibo.  Using it unlocks a few things.  You can save your high scores with it and level up the Amiibo with the points.  You can also turn into Super Chibi-Robo in the game using the Amiibo, but I haven’t tried it yet.  You can also unlock a second floor of the Chibi-House UFO that lets you buy figures from a capsule machine, and that’s it.  While it’s not the best use of an Amiibo that I’ve seen, I do like having a Chibi-Robo Amiibo in my collection.

And that’s really all I have to say about Zip Lash. It’s not the best game in the series, but I’m still enjoying it so far.  One thing you can say about Chibi-Robo games is that each one is different!  In the comments section, let me know if you’ve played any games in the Chibi-Robo series, and which ones are your favorites?  –Cary

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