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! Zip Lash is a side-scrolling platformer adventure game with some mild cartoon violence. The game's hero, a tiny robot, fights off invading mechanical aliens using his power cord, which he slings around like a whip. Hits result in enemies bursting apart and disappearing in a flash of light. Beyond fighting, Chibi-Robo solves simple contextual puzzles and cleans up any garbage he comes across before incinerating it to generate the power on which he runs, much of which is branded from product like Mentos and Pez. There's also optional Amiibo gameplay tie-ins with the Chibi-Robo Amiibo. Note that while the game is safe for younger kids, the controls are a bit awkward at times and take patience to master.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
CHIBI-ROBO! WHIP LASH puts players in control of Nintendo's tiny silver robot for a new adventure, but shifts focus from the franchise's traditional cleaning activities to fending off an alien invasion. Player perspective and movement have also been changed, with two-dimensional side-scrolling action replacing previous series' three-dimensional exploration. Chibi-Robo runs along flat stages from left to right, using his power cord as both a grappling hook that attaches to certain surfaces and as a kind of whip that can be flung towards enemies to make them explode. He still picks up bits of trash along the way, burning it in an incinerator to generate the energy that keeps him running, and -- eager to please as ever -- he helps characters by hunting down specific treasures. But the majority of play involves figuring out how to jump, swing, or pull Chibi-Robo from location to location, grabbing coins and other collectibles, and defeating enemies in his path.
Is it any good?
While the hero remains as cute as ever, some of the personality that defined his series has been lost here. The quirky and distinctive objectives of past games, which included tasks like cleaning and taking pictures, have been largely supplanted with generic running, jumping, and combat mechanics. And Chibi's key ability in this game -- using his power cord as a grappling hook and whip-like weapon -- feels a little awkward. Players need to adjust a targeting line to properly aim each toss, sometimes mid-jump. It breaks the flow of movement and can lead to costly mistakes that will force players to lose significant progress or even restart some levels. Plus, strange game design decisions -- like spinning a wheel used to randomly choose the next level, which can lead to replaying levels you'd rather not revisit -- are as likely to lead to frustration as they are to delight.
If you can grow accustomed to the less-than-intuitive controls, there's still fun to be had, thanks to a handful of imaginative levels and the tireless and persistent Chibi-Robo himself, who is easy to root for. Plus, players who opt for the version of the game that comes with a Chibi-Robo Amiibo figurine should enjoy levelling it up with points after each level and then using it to transform Chibi-Robo into a super-powered version of himself. Let's hope, though, that the next Chibi-Robo game returns our tiny tin hero to his charmingly eccentric roots as a household chore robot.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. With the ability to play anywhere, it's easy for kids to spend a lot of time playing handheld games. Do you find it difficult to keep them from playing when you're not around? What methods do you use to control the amount of time they spend playing on mobile devices?
Talk about reclaiming energy via garbage incineration. It might make more sense than simply burying it, but it's always better to try to reduce, reuse, or recycle first. What sort of garbage might be best used for incineration?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Price: $29.99-39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid (The game alone costs $29.99; purchasing with the Chibi-Robo Amiibo adds $10.)
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: October 9, 2015
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Robots
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.