Friday, January 24, 2014

Review: Chib Robo Photo Finder

Review by EggBeatr8

Title: Chibi Robo Photo Finder
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: 3DS eshop
Bottom Line: Slow at the get-go, and at times can be tediously punishing, but if you've got the patience, there's much to love about this new installment in an overlooked series.

In the looming shadows of big AAA titles and popular IPs, it's common to find a handful of original titles that just weren't popular enough to garner sequels. That's why it's extremely satisfying to see an overlooked series like Chibi-Robo to get another installment; a long overdue sequel made possible only on the Nintendo eShop. 

In this new Chibi-Robo adventure, Photo Finder has Chibi-Robo helping Mr. Curator build a NostalJunk museum by using the 3DS camera to snap photos of various objects 'from the past' and converting them into museum exhibits. But in order to do this, Chibi-Robo must obtain Happy Points which he can get by cleaning up counter tops and garages or helping out the inhabitants (mostly toys and inanimate objects come alive) in various mini-games. Once you get enough Happy Points you can exchange them for silhouette film and finally take a picture of something in the real world that matches the shape of the silhouette of the film. And that's pretty much what Photo Finder has you doing through the whole game. 

From the get-go, whether you've played a Chibi-Robo game in the past or not, it's obvious how painfully tedious this game is during the first 3 hours. Accepting work from the game's characters is your main source of Happy Points, but if you fail the challenges they give you even once (and mind you, most of these mini-games rely heavily on trial and error), you'll have to wait until you obtain a new NostalJunk and your job mail to reset before you can attempt them again. Your only other option to obtain Happy Points is to 'Explore' the set areas around the museum, which task you with cleaning up dust and picking up garbage. Of course, anyone who has played a Chibi-Robo game before should expect the game to limit you to 50 watts, the game's health points, which decrease over time whenever Chibi Robo walks or uses an item. The main problem with this early limitation is that it restricts how much exploration you can do at any given time. To put in perspective, it takes at least 10 watts to vacuum up dust patches, and even if you do manage to fill your dust bag to 100% don't expect to get a lot of Happy Points for your effort. Fortunately, the game picks up speed later on, though it's just too bad it has to be so darn slow to get going anywhere.

Probably the biggest problem the game faces is, sadly, what seemed to be the coolest gimmick: taking pictures. The low res 3DS camera is absolutely terrible at registering shapes, and in order to get at least 60% accuracy for the item to appear, don't be surprised if the game tells you again and again that the lighting is too dark. Even worse, you're only given 9 tries per silhouette film to get a shot right- if you can't get it within that duration then, well, it's back to farming Happy Points. And let's say you do get a picture just right: don't be surprised if it turns into a Nostaldud, the game's random insult to turn your hard work into a puzzle puzzle item that has no apparent point to the game until you collect all of them. And while it is sort of considered cheating, I did end up resorting to taking pics straight from Google Images, but i only did it to save myself the trouble of having to go track down an object again in real life because it turned into a Nostaldud. This is very unfortunate, because it's fun to see what object the silhouette actually turns out to be when you take a picture of something that's similar or (in most hilarious occasions) completely different in shape.

If there's one thing that's worth forking over $10 to buy this game, it's the undeniable Chibi-Robo charm the series is known for. The characters you meet in the game, including a bear shaped sponge, an anime TV robot, and a French Mustard and Ketchup bottle duo are all just as unique as the last, and their witty dialogue is as ridiculous as they are. Exploring every nook and cranny for goodies is what makes Chibi-Robo shine the brightest, and the areas to explore offer a good change of pace from working for the game's local toy folk (though it's dissappointing there's only 5 levels total in the game). The game looks really good all around too, boosting some impressive textures and details for a 3DS game.  

To conclude, if you like Chibi-Robo, and you can overlook the game's constant tedium, then you can't go wrong for $10. On the other hand, if you're impatient and hate randomly generated shenanigans, then this is definitely not a game you'd want in your collection. While it's great that we finally got another Chibi-Robo, it's unfortunate it has so many shortcomings against it. 

The Good: 
+Undeniable fun and witty dialogue and characters. 
+Impressive graphics. No visuals hiccups.  
+Some fun mini-games.

The Bad:  
-Extremely tedious and restrictive at the beginning of the game. 

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