Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash Preview

What once was small… is still pretty small.

Chibi-Robo is one of those franchises that usually starts a conversation with either “Oh yeah, I loved that back when” or “I forgot that even existed!” followed by a chat about the days of the GameCube.

It's yet another of the surprising thoughts from Shigeru Miyamoto’s mind (when he’s not gardening or remembering the times he spent exploring caves in his childhood) brought to life by the talented programmers and design people of Nintendo. And at E3 this year, where so many of his brainchildren are getting new titles of their own at once, we even get to see one as niche as CR receive a little love.

In the past, Chibi-Robo has been a puzzle-platformer about helping the family that’s in control of himcleaning up, charging batteries, housework… that sort of thing. This time, to hell with the chores, he’s charging around and wielding his power cable like Indiana Jones’s bullwhip to navigate the various environments that only available to those ten centimeters tall can navigate. It’s not clear where the story is going, but it’s an obvious departure from the established take on the franchise.

He can use it to grapple the climbable blocks, destroy the breakable blocks, and collect gems. There’s apparently a rubber tip to his plug as wellweird, since rubber is naturally an awful conductor (thanks, ninth-grade electronics class!)as it can ricochet off walls like a billiards shot to climb up further. The focus on everything is obviously that cable, and through finding power-ups and power for his own battery represented by a battery meter, Chibi-Robo can extend his cable to reach new areas and continue to… wherever he’s going.

It looks a little rough around the edges, like a bit of slow control response and some jerky pinpointing of where he’s throwing that plug next. They weren’t bad, but notable enough I should mention them here. It looks fine, pixelated around the edges but that’s hardly noticeable on the actual 3DS screen (but very clear on the monitors shown, and not simply because it’s projected and stretched from a smaller screen). There’s still time to make those micro adjustments and make clear if there’s any “story” here, or if it’s just platforming for platforming’s sake.

Chibi-Robo will start whipping around with us on 3DS on October 9, 2015. We’ll see then just how tall it can stand on its own, my friends.