Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol

Developer: Skip Ltd.
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Oct. 2, 2007
Systems: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: The real reason I borrowed Chibi-Robo

0:01 "Touch to start." So I do. I can choose from a bunch of colored flowers to represent my save file. Nice touch.

0:02 "Citrusoft robotics is committed to making a difference in people's lives." Thus, the new version of Chibi-Robo is "Blooming Chibi-Robo." He's four inches tall and shaped like... er... what's this game rated again?

0:03 Some disturbing scenes here of a Chibi-prototype being tortured with a soldering iron. "Pollution is a major problem worldwide." Great, here comes the enviro-lecturing...

0:04 I get a boom box, which makes plants sprout buds, and a water squirter, which makes buds grow. Simple enough, although I doubt that boom box thing would work in real life.

0:05 I'm in control. The d-pad moves, while the touch screen has a variety of fancy buttons for things like moving the camera, picking stuff up, etc.

0:06 This boom box works like no other boom box I know of. You have to spin the tape spool with good timing to get it to play music -- too fast or slow and it sounds wrong. Cute enough mini-game, but don't most boom boxes handle the tap speed automatically? This isn't a hand-crank phonograph, is it? Whatever, it's a good excuse to see Chibi dance. Heehee

0:08 Using the squirter to grow flowers gets me Happy points. Oh how happy they make me.

0:09 "Chibi-Robo's gardening ability is a green answer to pollution." Really? Flowers? I've heard a lot of debate over hybrid vehicles and ethanol and such, but nothing much about flowers as a solution to our world's warming woes.

0:10 They're giving Chibi-Robo's to parks for free. Because they're just that nice. "Citrusoft. We're ripe with innovation." Heh.

0:12 The "park" I've been dropped at is a vast dusty field with like three flowers. Wow. Sad.

0:13 Hmm... this time around my happy points are turned into life-giving watts. I guess that makes sense, as there aren't any outlets in an outdoor park, but the risk of falling dead and gone out in the field is a bit terrifying.

0:14 Chet, my round robotic helper, says this park used to be covered with flowers on "every square inch." But the picture I'm shown of that verdant park seems to have... not many flowers. More than it does now, but still, rather empty.

0:19 So I go make a few more flowers using the dance/squirt method, then come in to charge. Then I do it again. And again. Compared to the first game, the world seems a little sterile and empty. There's just not much to do yet.

0:20 "It's up to you to make the park explode with flowers." OK, fine, but is that all I have to do?

0:22 Whoops. Too much dancing means I'm out of batteries before I can recharge. This loses me some happy points. Sigh.

0:26 I'm up to 19 flowers planted now. So far I'm pretty upset with how repetitive and empty this game has been. There's none of the human warmth or wacky verve that infused the first game's first hour. It's just endless fields of brown and endless toil over the flowers. Bleh.

0:30 Day one is over. A cut scene features a black-spandex clad man (whose face we never see) laughing ruefully at the flowers that have sprung up. He thinks my house is a pile of "sweet sweet life-choking garbage." Was this guy rejected from the Captain Planet villain casting call or something?

0:32 So the Chibi-gear section now has a 150-watt battery, meaning I won't have to recharge as often. But I'll still have to do this soul-crushingly repetitive gardening routine over and over, righjt? Um.. yay?

0:33 Groan, I don't even have enough watts for the battery. Oh game. Why do you taunt me so.

0:39 Some nice synth-guitar music fills the air now that I've reached a certain threshold of flowers. It makes the soul-crushing repetition a little less soul-crushing, I'll give it that.

0:42 Now I can buy clippers to clip the flowers and take them to the flower shop. This will gain me happy points, but it seems to go against the entire message of the game (i.e. that flowers are good against pollution and therefore should not be PLUCKED FROM THE GROUND TO DIE). Oh well, at least it's something else to do.

0:44 I go about systemically destroying my work of the last half hour. The peppy guitar music goes away as I pick out too many flowers. Way to encourage me, game.

0:46 Oh dear lord. I just played a street crossing mini-game, that consisted of (1) waiting for the signal to turn green and (2) crossing the street. Frogger it ain't.

0:48 The flower shop owner tells me his tale of woe. "All over the world, flowers are disappearing at an alarming rate." Yeah, it's tough all over, pal. It's odd that I never see his face. In fact, I haven't seen a single human face since the first cut scene ended. Weird.

0:50 Holy crap. Giving away 11 flowers got me 340 happy points. For context, I has been getting like two or three points a piece for planting them. Screw gardening for gardening's sake -- cold hard commerce is where it's AT!

0:51 I recklessly recross the street without waiting for the green signal. I seem to make it OK...

0:53 I convert my massive happy points into enough watts to power a small city... or a small robot for days on end. Being a greedy capitalist has its perks. Too bad I have nothing to spend these watts on.

0:56 A hint of things to come... Chet tells me that once I get the tiller cartridge, I can turn sand into soil to plant more flowers. Hooray! The promise of more menial labor!

1:01 I get a big flowery "Congratulations!" message. Er, for what. Did I reach some flower milestone or something? Who knows? The only real difference I notice is a butterfly hanging around. Whoo.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? No.
Why? What can I say, I just don't have that green thumb.

This review based on a retail copy provided by Nintendo.


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Anonymous said...

Funny stuff. The reason you don't see people's faces is cause you're supposed to be viewing things from Chibi-Robo's level. Also did you notice something about the florist's outfit? Blue overalls, red shirt, like a certain famous Nintendo mascot.

I agree this game isn't for people who dislike mindless repetitive behaviour. Yet I like it, I don't know it doesn't seem that terribly repetitive. Perhaps it's that I just like those cute babbling penguins so much. It's good if you have alot of time to kill, kind of like virtual pet games.