Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Albert Lichi 16.10.2015 2

Review for Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash on Nintendo 3DS

Chibi-Robo! was a humble little Nintendo franchise that was developed by Skip Ltd. and began on the GameCube. There must be some high level executive that has a lot of faith in it because the series never quite got past its cult status and very small following. The games themselves have been on a decline after the original 3D collectathon, seeing iterations on the DS and eventually getting a 3DS eShop download as Chibi-Robo! Let's Go, Photo! / Photo Finder, which was, more or less, a glorified tech demo for 3DS hardware. Nintendo has struggled to maintain Chibi-Robo! and, sadly, most people just never gravitated towards the little guy, despite the company's efforts. With Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash, the franchise deviates from the day to day chores, 3D platforming and clean-up duty that it is known for, and opts for a 2D-style puzzle platformer. Can this new title reinvigorate and elevate Chibi-Robo from cult status? Is the tiny robot doomed to obscurity? Cubed3 plugs in and reviews Chibi-Robo! Ziplash.

When Skip Ltd. made the original Chibi-Robo! in 2005, it was conceived as a semi-life sim platforming game centred on doing chores for a dysfunctional family. Many of the mechanics found in the original, such as the fact that Chibi-Robo runs on batteries and requires a charge-up, and the energy system for his little home that converts trash into watts, make their way into Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash. Themes such as environmentalism from the past titles still ring true here, but they are much less pronounced than before, and, instead, bring the minor alien background stuff to the forefront. The story of Zip Lash revolves around an alien invasion, and during a routine clean-up on one of Earth's satellites, Chibi-Robo and his hovering computer partner, Telly, manage to spot the alien menace and set out on a journey to thwart them alone.

Screenshot for Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash on Nintendo 3DS

Anyone with experience in the past Chibi-Robo titles will be a bit surprised by how little this resembles a traditional entry in the franchise at all. It has more in line with an old-school Castlevania, what with the way the controls have a certain tightness to them, and how the plug outlet behaves when used as a whip or grappling hook. Chibi-Robo controls pretty tightly and doesn't have much of a leap like Mario would, but has more of a fixed hop. His plug cord, which doubles as a whip and grapple hook and is used to clear gaps, is the core mechanic. The lash also can be used to hover like a helicopter, as well as bounce off walls for some light puzzle challenges to break up the action. Everything controls well enough and has a very polished presentation, as it hearkens back to a simpler era of games.

The gameplay, in particular, which is not especially challenging, is ideal for children and has a Kirby-like charm about it. There are a few road bumps that do hamper the game, though, like the poorly implemented and enjoyable vehicle sections that have unique gameplay mechanics. It is understandable to mix things up once in a while, but Zip Lash could have done it better, instead of forcing an annoying level. It's interesting that it had to be like this, since the boss fights are incredible and highly entertaining. It begs the question of if there could have been more bosses, instead of lame vehicle levels that limit Chibi-Robo's abilities.

Screenshot for Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash on Nintendo 3DS

While traversing the six worlds, new features will gradually open up, including some innovative puzzle designs revolving around the long lash that can bounce off surfaces. These are the aspects that make Zip Lash stick out from other games like it. Classic concepts that Chibi-Robo is known for, such as the energy management and trash collecting, take a backseat to the whip mechanics and puzzles. Now, this is a well-made and very polished game, with some exceptional graphics and animation, but the gameplay never quite elevates itself to truly imaginative levels. Many titles tend to rise tension or friction, but Zip Lash is a far too laid back game that revolves around actions and reflexes to the point it becomes boring, save for the boss fights.

There are some baffling design choices, like the adventure wheel, which is a spinner that is spun around and determines how many spaces Chibi-Robo will move on the map for whatever level that will be played - much like a board game. There is no real reason for this mechanic to exist in the reality of the game's world, and it will lead to stages being replayed, whether the player wants to or not. There are concessions, like using in-game currency to buy specific panels for the spinner to tip the odds to land on a more desirable number, which basically renders the whole mechanic fairly useless and proves just how much of a nuisance it really is. When a world is completed, levels can be played in any order, anyway, so why bother? Other annoying design choices are that bonus rooms can't be retried and that the level must be replayed from the start in order to complete one single secret area. The point of a bonus room is the challenge of discovering them - being forced to replay the entire stage to get another chance to retry is just frustrating.

Screenshot for Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash on Nintendo 3DS

The replay value for Zip Lash has many variables to it, since the levels do contain a decent variety of collectibles. There will always be the annoying spinner that may send Chibi-Robo to unwanted stages, which is filler at its most basic and arbitrary. Expect about seven hours to beat the game without trying to get 100% completion, which is a fair length for a game like this. While it is not challenging, it also doesn't truly capture the imagination the way the past Chibi-Robo titles did, either. Easy games can be enjoyable, but they also need to be interesting. Aside from the standout boss battles, Zip Lash just doesn't get very exciting and is pretty skippable considering its price.

Screenshot for Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash is not the best Chibi-Robo - it is not even that great of a 2D side-scroller or platformer, either. For the most part, the experience ends up feeling shallow and generic compared to the past games and aside from a few fleeting bold moments with the bosses, there just is not much memorable about it. The world may never see another game in this franchise, and it is sad that this one will probably be remembered as "that time Nintendo tried to give Chibi-Robo a desperate change." Perhaps the timing was bad for this character, or the world just wasn't ready for him yet. Zip Lash is a well-made title, just one that fails to inspire. Skip Ltd. should have played to its strengths as a quirky Japanese game developer, instead of aiming for a homogeneous 2D platformer.

Also known as

Nagenawa Action! Guru Guru! Chibi Robo!

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Was going to get this, but after seeing multiple reviews, I've really lost interest in it. I might pick it up in the future still, but only for a much cheaper price. The level select system alone majorly turns me off, it just baffles me why they thought it was a good idea.

chris (guest) 07.11.2015#2

You should still get it though. It's actually pretty good once you look past the destination wheel(Which isn't that big of a problem, to me at least.)

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Azuardo, mikem52, Phoenom

There are 3 members online at the moment.