The Chibi-Robo series has always been seen as one of those ‘big in Japan’ franchises. Yes it has had limited success in other regions but this is the first time that Nintendo have put some marketing muscle into the series outside of the Japanese region. Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash is a platformer featuring Chibi-Robo, a inter-planetary trash collecting robot that uses his power cable as a grappling hook and weapon.
Our protagonist progresses through various worlds comprised of six separate levels. Each level features different collectables such as candy, three star coins and three Chibi-Tots (mini versions of Chibi-Robo). In the levels themselves you use your power cable to interact with highlighted panels in order to progress to the next section or platform. The aiming of your cable is the games primary mechanic and can be somewhat compared to the egg tossing from the Yoshi’s Island series. While the aiming is static you can switch from your 3DS analogue stick to the d-pad for more precise aiming. Bouncing from platform to platform and solving basic puzzles does eventually get monotonous as you have an abundance of time and the slow-paced enemies don’t pose much of a challenge. Adding to this there are many checkpoints and losing a life, even though a rare occurrence, adds to the ease of this game.
Each level is well designed in order to emphasise the grappling mechanic. Breakable blocks and hidden area’s are plentiful and in some instances the cable carries you over ridiculous gaps. As you advance through the level your cable will occasionally be upgraded in length opening up new ways of making it through the level. Occasionally you get to play a sporadic vehicle-based side quest. Whether it be a skateboard, jet-ski or submarine these distraction are poor additions to the generally consistent platforming. Boss fights are also very simplistic and offer no real challenge. While these snags are a concern the game still remains fun, the major downfall has nothing to do with the gameplay but rather the level select system. When ending a level you randomly choose one of three UFO’s and depending on which one is selected allows you to SPIN a given amount of spaces. This board game-like method means that you could end up playing the same levels numerous time before any actual progression. You can however use in-game currency to buy certain numbers on the dial but in all seriousness, this is the most daft level select method I’ve ever encountered.
Completionists will have a field day with Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash as collecting all the extra’s provides you with over double the gamplay time. Some levels towards the end are particularly long and finding the extras is definitely more a challenge than a chore. Just make sure that you don’t hit one of the collectible Chibi-Tots, rather than picking it up, because it’s things like this that lead to families breaking up.
The Chibi-Robo character is as engaging as ever and its various robo-squalls will charm your pants off. Zip Lash has some solid platforming elements but falls sort on some frustrating side missions and the general lack of challenge. This isn’t all bad as it will easily appeal to a younger demographic as well as people who just want a quick fun romp with a charming trash collecting robot. Yes this game has its pros and cons but overall it’s a will balanced game and most importantly… it’s fun.