Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash (3DS): COMPLETED!

Bite his shiny metal IAPs

Although I went into this knowing it wasn’t a true Chibi-Robo game, I had to buy it because it was cheap and came with a Chibi-Robo Amiibo and actually, it was pretty good when I played the demo. That was a while back though. Not sure why I picked it up, finally, this week.

A brief overview would be this: it’s a better than average platformer with a decent gimmick (the “zip lash” of the title) and a few utterly baffling but thankfully not game-ruining design choices. And it’s cute and twee and stuff.

The zip lash, and the similar whip lash, are moves where Chibi-Robo flings out his cable, to attack baddies, grab items, smash blocks, or anchor on ledges and use them to climb up. He can also swing from marked ceilings, and after extending the length of his cable, use the zip lash to bounce the plug off walls and reach items and other hidden areas.

Six worlds, with six levels in each, and there’s the usual platforming array of themes – grass, sand, ice, fire, and so on. They’re fun though, and varied in that Nintendo way of having hundreds of great ideas that are infrequently used. A couple of levels have you on a skateboard, some more hanging from a bunch of balloons, and some that take the form of a jetski obstacle course. A traditional boss at the end of each world, plus a final end boss, and that’s your game. Pretty short, mostly very easy, but enjoyable nonetheless.

However! There are two completely out of place parts to the game, both of which feel like this was supposed to be a free-to-play game with IAPs to fund it.

The first one is how you move on from each level. Normally, you’d expect after level 1-1 you’d go to 1-2, right? Here, at the end of a level you have to hit a copper, silver or gold UFO that are floating around. Hitting them get you 1, 2 or 3 (respectively) spins of a six segment wheel. Each segment has a number on it, and the number you land on is how many levels ahead you move – looping round from level 6 to level 1 if necessary. At first, this feels like a level skip bonus, but you have to complete all the levels in a world to move on, so why would you want a number other than 1? All it does it make it more likely you’ll need to repeat levels later. And here’s the first clue to ditched IAPs: You can buy, with in-game coins, segments for the wheel. You can pay to cover up all the 2s and 3s with 1s, guaranteeing you don’t need to replay completed levels.

Of course, repeating a level has its own worth – more coins, higher scores, find the rest of the missing big coins/sweets/mini Chibi-bots/baby aliens (all of which are optional), but being forced to do them because you span the wrong number? Why not pay to bypass that?

The second one is the coins themselves. They let you buy batteries (which refill your power bar if it runs out), a jetpack (to save you once if you fall off the bottom of the screen) and these wheel segments, but they’re incredibly cheap and mostly unnecessary. You can also feed coins into a gatcha machine which dispenses random figurines for you to collect. They serve no purpose, but gotta catch em all, I guess. So you rack up a few thousand coins, spend them on baubles because there’s nothing else, and then – just before the final boss – in order to save the world you have to buy “giant parts” for Chibi-Robo and these cost about 20,000 coins in total. Unless you’ve been saving them up for the whole of the rest of the game, you hit the end and then have to grind earlier levels for more.

Or… in app purchases? Well, it certainly looks like that was the purpose originally anyway. And what kind of world makes their hero pay for the upgrades necessary to save them from oblivion? Tch.

But those two things aside, I enjoyed the game and it’s well above your usual character platformer. I’d probably have enjoyed it even more if I’d not “wasted” my coins before then end. If you don’t do that, you’ll probably enjoy it too.

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