This content originally appeared in issue #2 of the Nintendo Fun Factor zine. The issue is available as a free download here; check it out!
In 2005, developer Skip Ltd. released the quirky classic Chibi-Robo! for the Gamecube in Japan. The game follows the household adventures of a miniature robot tasked with
completing domestic objectives like cleaning up spills, finding lost items, and settling disputes between family members. Its charming protagonist and cute scenario made it one of the Gamecube’s standout exclusives and it remains a fan-favorite to this day.
Players control Chibi-Robo from the third person perspective, guiding him through the Sanderson’s home as he completes objectives in an effort to gain Happy Points which help him reach his ultimate goal of becoming Super Chibi-Robo and the number one Chibi- Ranking. While many of the game’s locations and scenarios are common and ordinary, Chibi’s world is nevertheless filled with an appealing and memorable cast of characters ranging from stereotypical members of an American nuclear family to an army
called the Free Rangers to a 1960’s style adventure hero called Drake Redcrest.
Chibi-Robo!’s main story goals are centered around exploration of the Sanderson home and completing tasks for each member of the family, but the
game also features many side quests outside of the primary objectives. Chibi spends most of his time traveling from one part of the home to another,
collecting items and solving problems, all the while earning the Happy Points necessary to progress through the game. Missions can feel tedious at times; just getting from one room to another can be a time consuming task for little Chibi (after all, an average suburban home is a big, big world for a 10cm tall robot), but the game’s charm and creativity mean that most of the time spent traversing the game’s world is an enjoyable experience.
In fact, one of the game’s chief charms is exploring an ordinary world from a
new perspective; from Chibi’s point of view, a child’s cabinet becomes a challenging obstacle that requires careful movement and planning to successfully navigate, while a
seemingly mundane locale like an unfinished basement is transformed into a foreboding and mysterious place.
It is certainly worth firing up a Gamecube (or a Wii) to explore the world of the original Chibi-Robo! While the game isn’t perfect (sometimes poor camera control can lead to some frustrating platforming challenges, for instance), Chibi-Robo! is a unique and memorable part of Nintendo’s past, and a game we were lucky to find released in the U.S.
Chibi-Robo! Park Patrol
Released in 2007 as a Wal-Mart exclusive in the U.S., the second game in the Chibi-Robo! series came and went with little fanfare. Fans of the original game should find a lot to love in Park Patrol though, including a conservation themed plot that revolves around cleaning up a local park, new cute characters for Chibi to interact with,and updated controls that make use of the DS’s stylus.
Chibi in Japan
There are three Chibi-Robo titles which have yet to leave Japan. The first is 2009’s Okaeri! Chibi-Robo! Happy Richie Ōsōji! which was released on the DS. In this game, Chibi is out of the out of doors and back inside to rock household chores. This time however, Chibi is taking care of the housework for a grown-up Jenny from the first game.
A month before the release of Okaeri! Chibi-Robo! Happy Richie Ōsōji!, the original Gamecube game was re-released as a New Play Control title for Wii.
During a Nintendo Direct in July, a new Chibi-Robo! was announced (and released on the Japanese eshop). Jissha de Chibi Robo combines platforming and the AR functionality of the 3DS to create what seems to be a charming and unique eshop release. With Nintendo’s fairly good track record of localizing their 3DS games in recent months, there is a good chance of this one making it west.
Which is good, because it’s about time we see that helpful little robot again.