A quirky, offbeat Adventure Game
with the guts of a platformer
tells the story of the Sandersons, a seemingly average suburban
family. For her birthday, 8-year-old Jenny Sanderson receives a "Chibi-Robo", a tiny, 4-inch tall Robot Maid
with a hyperspace head
, a neurotic flying sidekick
, and the ability to turn just about anything into a useful tool
. By design, Chibi-Robo is supposed to perform simple household tasks: Cleaning up, entertaining children, cooking—the basics. But this
particular Chibi-Robo doesn't have it so easy, as he becomes a kind of Armchair Psychiatrist to the Sandersons and all of their severely messed up toys
What? Did we forget to mention that all of the toys in their house are alive
? Silly us.
Released in 2005 for the GameCube, Chibi-Robo
is considered something of a cult hit. It was critically praised, but sold poorly—partially due to its odd nature
and partially due to the overall bad sales of the system it was on. Despite this, it managed to spawn a very cute sequel on the Nintendo DS, this time with a Green Aesop
thrown in, but as it was a Walmart exclusive for a while after release, it didn't sell very well. If you have a Wii (or still have a GameCube kicking around), check this out—it's incredibly cheap, quite fun, cute as a button,
and unexpectedly moving
Nintendo included it as one of their "New Play Control!" Updated Rereleases
for Wii. A third entry, Welcome Home, Chibi-Robo! Happy Rich Big Sweep
was released in Japan for the Nintendo DS in Fall 2009, but passed most of the country by due to lack of advertising. A 3DS game subtitled "Photo Finder" appeared on the 3DS, including augmented reality features.
This game provides examples of:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer - The Sanderson's kitchen sink. Justified, as Chibi is only a few inches tall. What's huge to him is tiny to everyone else.
- The Ace - DRAAAAAKE REDCRESSSSST!
- Alien Invasion - Subverted. At first, the aliens seem mysterious and ominous. However, they're perfectly nice folks.
- There are evil spidery robots, as well, but they're not aliens.
- Aliens Speaking English - Apparently, alien language is just normal language, spoken really, really softly.
- All Love Is Unrequited - Every lovestruck character in the game manages to avert this... except for Dinah, who never admits her liking for Phil to his face without trying to take it back as a joke even by the end of their subplot, which... must have been a pretty tough time for her, to say the least. Poor Sophie never really gets anywhere even once she mostly averts this, either.
- Ambiguous Gender - The Phillies.
- Ambiguously Gay - Ketschburg and Moustardin from Photo Finder. The only real ambiguity about it is the fact that they're never actually called a couple. They have lines where they talk about the fact that they were (literally) made for each other, and during one sidequest, when it looks like Miss Clayra might have designs on Ketschburg, Moustardin exclaims that she'll never let her take Ketschburg away from him.
- Arm Cannon - The Chibi-Blaster, which fires (mostly) harmless sonic blasts.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other - Mrs. Sanderson kissing Mr. Sanderson in the end.
- Badass Creed - "YOU'RE FREE RANGERS! YOU'RE HARD-BOILED!"
- Beast and Beauty - The mummy action figure Mort loves the beautiful princess doll Princess Pitts.
- Benevolent Architecture - No matter how out-of-the-way it seems, some part of the landscape will let you get up there.
- There are quite a few places you can't get to without the use of a Utilibot, however.
- And, thanks to Park Patrol, you can even make the landscape that way!
- Big "NO!" - Mr. Sanderson utters one when he realizes that his wife wants to divorce him.
- Bland-Name Product - The company that made Chibi-Robo, Citrusoft, is a reference to Apple. In a similar vain, the company that made the evil Spydorz, Macroware, is a thinly veiled poke at Microsoft. Taking sides much? Or, it could be the other way around: Citru-SOFT=Micro-SOFT and MAC-roware. Or they could be combinations of the two companies. Take your pick.
- Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata is a fan of Apple after all.
- Bragging Rights Reward - Collecting all the stickers.
- Bumbling Dad - Mr. Sanderson is one for sure.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer - Mr. Sanderson. Despite being a Bumbling Dad to the extreme, he's actually a brilliant inventor.
- The Cameo - A character named Kid Eggplant looks VERY similar to Eggplant Man from Wrecking Crew. There's also Primopuel, who is a real toy produced by Bandai (though only in Japan).
- Cartoon Creature - Squid Vicious in Photo Finder is the Animate Inanimate Object version of this. For most of the other characters in the game, it's obvious what sort of objects they represent (plasticine clay, a tin robot, garden statuary), but Squid is just sort of a plasticky-looking strange... thing.
- Cast from Hit Points - Chibi has one stat for everything, from using special abilities to taking damage to time—it's his battery. Plugging into a handy outlet gives you a full heal.
- Cloud Cuckoolander - A few of the non-Woobies.
- Concepts Are Cheap - Lampshaded with Drake Redcrest. According to his "official" bio, he fights for justice, but he actually has no idea what justice really means and is in a state of mild existential crisis because of it.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment - When Chibi plugs in to recharge, if the player mashes buttons in an effort to rush through Telly's save dialog (and on a heavy "15 minute" day this can be as many as 3-5 recharges), then when Chibi goes to unplug he gets harmlessly whacked with a pan or can top dropped from above. Telly denies it, of course, stating he has no idea where it came from, but counts the number of times it has happened.
- Cute Machines: The title character, along with his various robot buddies.
- David Vs Goliath: Chibi-Robo goes up against The Spydor Queen towards the end.
- Disco Dan - Funky Phil ("Awwww yeah! Are you funky?!)
- Park Patrol follows up on this with the beatboxing Kid Kombo, mascot of Monkey Burger, who teaches you dance moves.
- Disney Death - Funky Phil. He was just "turned off."
- Every time a toy runs out of energy in Park Patrol, complete with cheesy parting words.
- Dinah and Sophie, though the "Disney" part can come in too quickly afterwards for it to be made particularly dramatic. Dinah jumps out of her loft after you collect all of the lego blocks and smashes on the floor, but Mr. Sanderson puts her back together, which was part of her plan; Sophie passes out after giving Drake her letter and her butterfly-formed ghost is shown floating out of her body, but trying to talk to her revives her, and it also happens every time you use the ghost costume's pose on her.
- You yourself are able to pull one off. Telly Vision even cries over your 'grave' when you fall over.
- Does This Remind You of Anything? - Sunshine wants his nectar...
- The Dragon - Sergeant Smogglor to Miasmo in the Park Patrol.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty - The Sergeant of the Free Rangers is a strange blend of this and A Father to His Men. He's hard on them, but he does truly care about them, and he's arguably harder on himself.
- Dysfunction Junction - Everyone in that house has serious issues.
- Eccentric Townsfolk - Added to the fact that they're toys...
- Expy - Drake Redcrest's design was obviously Gatchaman-based (his original name in the Japanese version was "Gocchiman"), and he seems to have a bit of Buzz Lightyear in him, as well.
- Funnily enough, he seems to have both of Buzz Lightyear's personalities in him: he's completely aware that he's a toy, yet acts like a real super hero anyway.
- The American version of Drake Redcrest (with the yellow helmet visor) appears to be based on a rooster.
- The Faceless - The inventor of the Park Patrol Chibi-Robo model. We see the rest of his body in the intro and tutorial.
- All the humans in Park Patrol are like this actually, which is weird considering in all of the other Chibi-Robo games you can see everyone's face.
- Fangirl - Sophie to Drake Redcrest, and Dinah to Funky Phil to a lesser extent.
- Fetch Quest - That's what happens when you turn an Adventure Game into a platformer-esque game.
- Frothy Mugs of Water - Captain Plankbeard repeatedly drinks from a wooden jug during conversation. After a few drinks, he remarks that he "Love(s) the taste of water".
- Gag Lips - Sophie
- G-Rated Drug - Sunshine and his "nectar" addiction.
- Gender Equals Breed - More like, "Gender Equals Toy Line." The children of Mort and Princess Pitts are a male mummy action figure and a female princess doll.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar - Sunshine and his "nectar" go without saying. Also, the first time Phil drops a seed, Dinah, while ranting, will say something to the tune of "Why am I blushing?! It's only a seed!" ...Uhh.
- Spraying Princess Pitts with water gets you this gem:
Princess Pitts: You got me wet, you naughty robot!
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: The frog rings, and specific items you collect (like crayons).
- Granola Girl - Molly Mapleleaf in Park Patrol, a plastic tree toy whose goal is to help the environment in any way she can, and dreams of becoming a real biodegradable tree in the next life.
- Gratuitous Japanese - Parodied extensively with Telly Vision's song "Teriyaki Blues." The opening lines of the song are "in Japanese," but consist entirely of loanwords like "ninja" and "otaku."
- Hammerspace: Chibi-Robo can carry anything in his head; all from a flower seed to a pirate ship.
- Happily Married - Mort and Pitts, once you complete their Story Arc.
- Heroic BSOD - Parodied. The father has one of these whenever anything mildly interesting happens.
(after Chibi Robo picked up a flower): Hot! Diggity! Dog! That's AWESOOOOOOOME!!!!
- Though in that last example, it likely was more over the fact that Chibi put the flower (which is quite a bit bigger than Chibi) in its head.
- After Funky Phil "dies", Dinah spends the next solid 24 hours (not in actual time, of course) standing next to him with wild eyes, talking nonsense.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: How does Chibi fit all that stuff in his head?
- It gets ridiculous enough to fall into Refuge in Audacity, as well. Like when you carry a pirate ship that is easily over 10 times Chibi's size.
- I'm Okay - Sophie loudly proclaims "FEELS GOOOOD!" after falling down the stairs.
- In-Universe Game Clock - You can customize the length. Shorter days mean less waiting for time-based events, but obviously, less time to do chores. Longer days mean more time to do stuff, but when it comes to time-based events, be prepared to wait unless you've got a pair of Pajamas.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Sergeant of the Free Rangers. While he is harsh on them and insults them despite hard work, he is genuinely worried about the youngest ranger, Memphis, who was kidnapped by Tao.
- Also, Captain Plankbeard, who is quite harsh-mouthed, but he is really attached to Giga-Robo.
- Kleptomaniac Hero - You'd think you'd lose points for having so much household stuff go missing. Oh well.
- Large Ham - Drake Redcrest, who for starters claims part of the Space Hunter code is to greet everyone by yelling.
- Living Toys
- Lost Wedding Ring - Mr. Sanderson looses his after the main story. You have to fetch it up.
- Love Letter Lunacy - The literal Chew Toy Sophie and her crush on Drake Redcrest.
- Macro Zone
- Metamorphosis - Each of the toys with problems in Park Patrol goes through this in a metaphorical rebirth after you help them with said problems.
- Mood Whiplash - Of a kind that can cause decapitation from it's severity. It's a lot more potent to anybody playing who knows what it's like to be in a family where you get A) Ignored by a parent not due to ill will but because of circumstances (Jenny and her mother), B) have a family threatening to taken apart because of miscommunication (the father), or C)to care about somebody who tends to irresponsible and makes it difficult to keep making excuses for them, and then finding out they had a reason for it in the first place and didn't want to hurt you with it (the mother). and remember, that all happens after a playful romp with living toys and trying to make the family happy. And that's not all of the problems you face in the game.
- Money for Nothing - After buying all the upgrades, there's really nothing more you need. You also don't need Happy Points after completing the game.
- Motor Mouth - Dinah, not so much in the speed of her words as the quantity.
- Mouse World - The setting.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero - General Greenthumb's original owner, thinking he's stupid since he can't win playing as him in a game, discards his Greenthumb figure at the park, thus providing the perfect minion for Miasmo.
- Nobody Poops - The Sandersons' house has no bathroom.
- No Name Given - Mr. and Mrs. Sanderson are known as just that, with no mentioned first names.
- No One Gets Left Behind - This is the main conflict with the Free Rangers: A while ago, they let their youngest member, Memphis, get left behind, and they haven't recovered.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything - Both Captain Plankbeard (a literal pirate, who lampshades this to a degree "As ye know, pirates who aren't evil end up at theme parks...It be terrifyin'") and the Free Rangers (a military-esque group) don't seem to do much in the way of their official jobs—though the Free Rangers do train a lot.
- Hell, when you find the Primopuel, one of the former Free Rangers suggests stealing it from you, only for Captain Plankbeard to shut him down by saying, "You think a pirate would do something so dirty and dastardly?" Yes, even though that's the very definition of a pirate.
- Playable Epilogue - The game continues after resurrecting Giga-Robo, and a few sidequests are only completable after this.
- Park Patrol continues after beating Miasmo and gaining Greenthumb's power source, and the sidequest bit applies here as well.
- Punny Name - Photo Finder has Squid Vicious the punk squid.
- Reluctant Retiree - Bull in Park Patrol. He gets better about it.
- Rewarding Vandalism - As contrary to your main goal as it is, breaking things is required to progress in the game.
- Robot Buddy - The titular Chibi is one, but he has his own robot buddy in the form of Telly Vision. The Park Patrol version also has one in the form of the overly-apologetic Chet.
- Robot Maid - Chibi may only be four inches tall, but he fits.
- Schizo Tech - Despite being in a setting that has had functional robots with AI for years (though very power hungry), the Sandersons have two phonographs, no computers, TVs with dials and no bathroom.
- Shout-Out - The game was co-produced by Bandai-Namco, so a Tamagotchi appears in the game.
- Side Quest - The game is almost nothing but sidequests.
- Smooch of Victory
- Speaking Simlish - "Gubba gubba, doemingmee!"
- Speaks Fluent Animal - Certain outfits allow Chibi to talk to animals.
- Stalker with a Crush - Sophie really "watches" Drake more than she follows him. Then again, she's slightly less mobile. Once she "dies", though, she constantly flies behind him as a ghost butterfly.
- Stealth Pun - The princess doll's name is Princess Pitts. If that seems like an odd name for a princess, think about some other Nintendo franchises for a bit. What do you find inside of a Peach?
- Stuck in Their Shadow - In-Universe example with Fizz of the penguin mascot duo for PopFizz Soda in Park Patrol. He gets fed up and leaves Pop after a while, but they patch things up later.
- Talking with Signs: Chibi-Robo is generally voiceless, so he speaks with "yes" and "no" signs.
- Theme Naming - The Free Rangers are all named after major US locations (at least in the American version). Most are cities or nicknames for cities (Frisco), with some oddballs like Maui, an island, and Bama, presumably Alabama.
- Time Skip - The third game in the series, Welcome Home Chibi-Robo!, features a grown-up Jenny as the owner of the household this time around. She even has her own son.
- Toy Time - Jenny's Room.
- Trademark Favorite Food - Nearly every toy in Park Patrol has one.
- Tuckerization - Family dog Tao was a real dog, owned by the game's creator. He looked pretty much exactly like the in-game one. He actually has appearances in many other Skip, Ltd. games (like Captain Rainbow), but the real dog sadly passed away in 2009.
- Turned Against Their Masters - The Spydorz.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: The Sandersons.
- Unexpected Character: Drake Redcrest and the Smoglings return in Photo Finder.
- Unnamed Parent: Jenny's son Keith (we never know who his dad is).
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: If you find Sophie's love letter to Drake Redcrest that she dropped, you can either give it back or...give it to Redcrest.
- Video Game Caring Potential: Giving it back to Sophie is much nicer, though.
- Also, finding all of Jenny's frog rings is not a requirement, but if you find them all and give it to her she will take off her hat. Not permanently, however.
- Voice for the Voiceless: Chibi-Robo's manager will usually do the talking for him. According to Telly, it's part of their job.
- The Voiceless: There have been several models of Chibi-Robo, and none of them have been equipped with the ability to speak.note
- Walking the Earth - The puppet Francois, due to a desire to break his strings borne from another toy wondering if he truly has free will.
- Wizard Needs Food Badly - A version of it. Being a robot, Chibi runs off a battery, and he needs to "charge" it periodically. Until the aliens show up and give every robot in the world, including you, perpetual energy.
- The Park Patrol Chibi still needs to plug in frequently at the beginning of its game, but it also has the ability to convert happy points into energy, so the energy crisis was averted anyway. Maybe that was technology derived from the aliens. The toys in Park Patrol occasionally need this too, from Chibi-Robo itself. Except for Smogglor/Greenthumb.
- The Photo Finder Chibi also still needs to plug in frequently.