Nintendo’s really been taking Chibi-Robo out of his element for his past few games. Gone are the days of the original Chibi-Robo!, Chibi-Robo! Park Patrol, and Okaeri! Chibi-Robo!, which sent the little guy off to clean houses or parks. Now, it seems like nobody’s sure what to do with him. In Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder, people were using the camera to play an augmented reality game where they took pictures to fit shapes and create NostalJunk for a museum. Now, with Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash, he’s an action hero. It’s quite a departure.
Funny thing, though. While Chibi-Robo is doing the unexpected, Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash still feels like a Chibi-Robo! game. Right from the start, we’re made at home with the return of Telly Vision and the Chibi-House. Seeing the familiar face of the recurring manager and the same home the robot has lived in throughout previous games is reassuring. It’s almost as though Skip Ltd. is starting off by saying, “Listen, we know this is a little weird, but Telly’s here to talk you through this. You can always come home.”
The return of chores aids in providing a sense of normalcy and reassuring a Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash player that this isn’t what Chibi-Robo is meant to do. When enemies are defeated, the robot picks up the trash. He’ll also grab stray items like bottle caps, cans, bottles, and paper too. It’s just like the original games and Chibi-Robo! Park Patrol, as he’s making himself useful in any way possible.
Said trash collection highlights the recycling messages brought up in Park Patrol and Okaeri! Chibi-Robo! Happy Richie Osoji. Power isn’t always there, as it was in the very first game. You accrue watts by cleaning up, whether you’re taking out the enemies or the trash. Not only does it function as a gameplay mechanic that encourages conservation, but also acts as a callback to previous games.
Bringing toys back is critical to maintaining the series’ ambiance. Chibi-Robo has always had the ability to interact with toys (and occasionally condiments). These little chats with colorful characters were a boon to the series, allowing Chibi-Robo to act as the straight man and foil for these more eccentric faces. Yes, this time they only come around when they want food, but that doesn’t make them any less charming. I honestly valued their appearances more here, because learning about the different snacks and treats was one of the most charming parts of the adventure.
Actually, the implementation of snacks is an important aspect too. Chibi-Robo! games relish the simple things. With Photo Finder, we were tasked with looking at everyday objects in new ways. The same happens with Zip Lash! and snacks. I have learned so much about food I normally ate without a second thought, you have no idea. It’s looking at an item a different way, something Chibi-Robo! has always encouraged.
In fact, that’s probably the biggest takeaway from Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash. Yes, it’s outside the robot’s normal repertoire. If you pay attention, though, you’ll see more similarities than you think. The way energy is created, Chibi-Robo’s constant cleaning, more toy friends, and making something ordinary feel extraordinary is something this series has been doing for years. Sure, we’re no longer cleaning up houses and doing chores in the name of fun, but we’re still collecting normal items, seeing toys as friends, and making the Chibi-Robo’s world a better place.
Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash is immediately available for the Nintendo 3DS.