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chibi robo
games Posted 2007-06-18 14:47:06 by Jim Crawford
The protagonist of Chibi Robo is a tiny housecleaning robot. At the start of the game you're set loose in a house with just that information and a cutscene introducing the family that lives there -- the unemployed, geeky father who spent too much money to buy you, the wife who hates him for being unemployed and geeky, and the daughter who's pretending to be a frog because her parents aren't getting along. You start out just cleaning, but your general goal is to make people happy, so thanks to the Chekhov's Gun principle you know you're eventually going to have to solve all the family problems.

The gameplay is almost completely exploration based. The house is bigger and more detailed than it seems, and things are always happening, people moving around and doing things, allowing you to interact with them in different ways. At any given time there's any number of things to do, all sorts plots to follow, people and toys who need happy-making. I've spent the past few hours looking forward to whichever part I'm intending to do next, because the game has always kept ahead of me with the new goals. And the presentation is fresh and utterly charming.

Reading some reviews of the game via Metacritic, I see criticisms to the effect that the time restrictions of the day/night cycle is too short, that the dialogue is unskippable, and that having to recharge yourself periodically is frustrating. All true, and all the sort of thing I've cited for ruining games for me in the past. Funny how being excellent makes up for the sort of flaws I normally get hung up on.
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