On the grand list of Nintendo mascots, very few think of a household robot that goes on adventures around the living room. But the Chibi-Robo franchise has quietly put together a solid slate of games in its own right, a line that's set to continue with this fall's 3DS effort titled Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash. Shacknews went to San Diego Comic-Con this year to try the game out.
There's a big difference between Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash and its predecessors and that's the game's setting. The titular Chibi-Robo is now out of the house and floating in the depth of space aboard a shuttle. Aliens have invaded and are looking to sap the planet of its resources, so it's up to Chibi-Robo to put a stop to those shenanigans.
Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash unfolds as a fairly standard 2D platformer. Chibi-Robo's main method of movement and attack is his trusty extension cord. By using the X Button, the tiny robot can use his Whip Lash attack, sending his cord straight ahead or at a 45 degree angle. The idea is to grasp certain platforms to help pull Chibi-Robo towards new areas. He can also flip switches to help solve puzzles and open new paths. Some platforms will require intense heat to proceed, so Chibi-Robo will have to pick up an invincibility power-up that will shoot him up to boiling temperature and allow him to melt certain walls upon touching them.
Chibi-Robo soon gets a new ability in subsequent levels, one that adds far more gameplay possibilities. The Zip Lash ability (tied to the Y Button) uses a second cord, one that must be charged prior to use. Charging the Zip Lash will shoot the cord out further distances and can be aimed in any direction. The Zip Lash can be used to defeat numerous enemies at once, but it's also used to bust blocks and reach out-of-reach switches or items. It can bounce off the ground, ceiling, and walls to ricochet to entirely new areas, allowing for trick shots that can trigger platforms or take out foes in style. Across each level, Chibi-Robo can also find power-ups that can help extend the length of both his Whip Lash and Zip Lash.
In addition to completing stages in straightforward fashion, Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash will have its share of collectibles. Common household trash will be scattered across levels, which Chibi-Robo can clean up in ways that harken back to his GameCube days. Miniature Robos are also scattered throughout each stage, which must be caught manually. Using any of your cords on these little guys will cause them to break, meaning players come away empty-handed. Then there are missing alien children, which are also occasionally scattered across different levels. Upon finding a lost alien child, Chibi-Robo can pick it up and return it to a safe drop zone, where a mothership will pick it up and reward players with bonus goodies.
Those unfamiliar with the Chibi-Robo franchise will find a solid entry point with Zip Lash, a game that makes references to the series' past, but largely stands out as a completely different adventure. With solid platforming, numerous puzzles and collectibles, and a charming cast of supporting characters, Zip Lash is looking to be a breakout title for the largely-unsung Chibi-Robo. Look for Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash to arrive in October.