A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Chibi-Robo: Photo Finder is a game available only via download for Nintendo 3DS. It’s a light-hearted augmented-reality adventure in which players explore realistic environments in a home, doing things such as cleaning and vacuuming. They'll sometimes have the chance to use the 3DS's camera to take pictures of household objects such as soda cans and T-shirts. There's no iffy content at all, but a lot of reading is required as well as some patience and experience navigating three-dimensional environments in games (it's easy to fall off ledges in some areas).
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What's it about?
Available only as a downloadable title through Nintendo’s eShop for 3DS, CHIBI-ROBO: PHOTO FINDER puts players in control of a four-inch-tall robot working for the curator of a museum. His primary objective is to run around taking pictures of household items (players do this using the 3DS's built-in camera) that are then replicated as three-dimensional objects and displayed in the museum to attract visitors. However, to earn the film necessary to take these pictures, kids have to do chores around a house, such as picking up garbage and recycling it or using a tiny vacuum to clean up spots of dust. Players also can engage in specific tasks, such as a measurement-guessing game involving a tape measure or a shooting-gallery game that involves taking aim and firing a little blaster at balloons and clay skeets. More activities and tasks unlock as the game progresses and Chibi-Robo fills additional cases in the museum.
Is it any good?
Whether kids have fun with this little downloadable adventure will depend largely on their ability to digest the game's odd presentation. The unusual household activities -- such as trying to find a pork belly amid various ingredients in a fridge so a pair of talking mustard and ketchup bottles can prepare dinner -- are attended by bizarre scenes in which strange characters do a lot of talking about nothing in particular. Kids will either get the weird humor or they won't.
If they do, they'll likely have a lot of fun not only with the strange mini-games but also the photo-snapping core of the experience. Tracking down and then properly framing the objects the curator wants to display in his gallery -- a book, a CD, a paper cup with a straw -- is fun and can be surprisingly challenging. The resulting 3-D objects are kind of cool-looking and may even contain surprises such as collectible stamps if you examine them closely enough in the game. It's well worth the $9.99 price -- assuming you can get down with the peculiar Japanese vibe.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about housecleaning. Would you like to have a little robot helper do your chores? Do you think tiny automatons like Chibi-Robo will ever exist?
Families also can discuss photography. Did you have a hard time finding the proper subjects for the game's augmented-reality photography segments? Were you able to come up with suitable alternative objects to those that were recommended?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, prediction
Creativity: making new creations
- Price: $9.99
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: January 9, 2014
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Robots
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Fantasy Violence
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