- Developer: skip Ltd.
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Platform: 3DS (£24.99/$29.99, £34.99/$39.99 with amiibo)
- Copy provided by publisher.
I absolutely adore Chibi-Robo. He is an adorable little robotic buddy, and any time he gets a new game I personally get excited. I seem to be one of very few people that played Chibi-Robo on the Gamecube – quite possibly the most underrated game on the system, offering Zelda-style adventuring in a far more humble and child-friendly package. Unfortunately, the package was something that probably put more people off, and Chibi-Robo has since been plagued with both obscurity and mediocrity ever since.
I wish I could say that Chibi-Robo: Zip-Lash was here to change his fortunes, but honestly, I very much doubt it. The once heroic adventurer Chibi-Robo has been devolved to the star of a 2D platformer. Not exactly a fantastic one, at that.
Chibi-Robo is a platform hero now, and his gimmick is that he throws around the plug sticking out of his bottom. Throwing it about like a lasso, Chibi uses it to break open boxes, grab items and pull himself up ledges. Unfortunately, that’s about it. You can collect items littered about the level to extend the reach of your cord, and therefore extend your literal reach, but any stage where this is required will have given you so many of the necessary extensions beforehand that they never feel like necessity, they’re just something you will inevitably pick up. Your cord length goes back to normal after each stage too, so it doesn’t even feel like there’s any progression.
The usual platform tropes are here – there are a myriad of collectibles in each stage, from a three tiny robots that will run from you, to several large coins. If this sounds familiar, you could always check any Nintendo-published platformer from the last five years because it’s the same thing all over again. Collectibles here are supposed to encourage replayability, but in my opinion, such a large amount of collectibles that will do nothing but fill up my totals screen honestly doesn’t tempt me to replay stages – not helped by the fact that many of the stages are some of the most predictable platforming you can possibly come by.
So yes, the stages of Chibi-Robo: Zip-Lash. Stages are mostly a thoroughly boring affair, with a hint of claustrophobia. Most of the time you’ll find yourself inside a stage, climbing upwards while surrounded by walls – honestly, it’s a little hard to breathe at times and this really hammers home that this is a linear game first and foremost. As I’ve said, most of this will be far too familiar to anyone who has played a Nintendo platformer lately, and the fact that you may have to replay stages does not help. At the end of each stage you swing your cord towards a Bronze, Silver of Gold UFO (Bell?) that hovers near the stage’s exit. The idea is to hit the Gold one, since it’s the smallest and most difficult target, and the result allows you to spin a wheel to see which stage you’re going to next. Yes. Spin a wheel.
Worlds have six stages, which you circle round Monopoly style, but if the wheel from the end of your last stage says you must replay an earlier stage, then it must be done. No choices. No questions. You have to do it, and honestly, it’s utterly stupid. Just making players go from stage 1-1, to 1-2 and so on and so forth would’ve been fine, instead they throw this slightly “random” method in an honestly it’s infuriating. You can slightly cheat the system, by buying more spins with your Moolah, but honestly it makes you wonder whether it’s worth playing the game.
The best stages are easily gimmick stages where you find yourself wakeboarding or skateboarding – sort of. These are still standard left-to-right platforming stages, but with either the inability to stop or the an additional two tracks to switch over to, to collect items and avoid obstacles, of course. It’s a shame that these don’t get either challenging nor interesting, to be honest. The balloon-themed stage of similar design has you swinging Chibi back and forth in order to adjust the height of the balloon, and really, that one is just utterly terrible.
It kills me that Chibi-Robo, the adorable little robot adventurer has been reduced to this. It’s like seeing a treasured friend come out of University with a degree only to work at McDonalds. His Gamecube outing was one of the finest on the system, but everything he’s done since then has been, well, awful. On the upside though, in Chibi-Robo: Zip-Lash he has a super cute amiibo – which just might be the only reason to buy his painfully average platformer.