We begin in a darkened room. Chibi-Robo’s metallic form clanking on the surface that he dashes across, the tantalising, enigmatic glow of a red button teasing you to push it in the distance.
As to where Chibi-Robo begins his latest adventure is unclear, but we learn from service robot Telly that the miniature robot is running late – soon tumbling from the ceiling and colliding with Mr Curator’s noggin. Your mission is to help the beret-wearing enthusiast open a NostalJunk museum, players using the Chibi-Robo Portal Console (Chibi-PC) to capture specifically-shaped objects from the past with Silhouette Film.
In essence, this becomes the game’s rapturous charm, as you gleefully hunt your everyday surroundings for items that match the shadow’s somewhat perplexing shape. Discover something that matches, and you’ll line up your 3DS camera to take a shot – measured on your accuracy, of which 60 percent is the baseline requisite. Succeed and Chibi-Robo will be transported through the PC to retrieve the NostalJunk, returning it through a Portal after which it will then be displayed in the interactive Exhibition Room.
Transitioning real-world items into the game is the core appeal, but this can regularly be a fussy encounter where your snaps fail to score highly due to poor lighting or not perfectly filling the silhouette outline provided. Perhaps it is the 3DS camera itself that holds Chibi-Robo! Let’s Go, Photo! back, but with photography having a key role to play inevitable frustration will soon creep in.
If you’re looking to expand your Silhouette Film assortment, these are printed by the player and require enthusiastically named Happy Points. These are earned by doing jobs for wacky characters that appeared earlier in the series, your pint-sized hero looking on in bemusement at their eccentricities. These requests are sent to you through the Chibi-PC, largely revolving around bite-sized missions geared toward the game’s portable nature. Whether that be shooting targets with your Chibi-Blaster, guessing distances with a tape measure, or returning ingredients to an eager pair of sauce bottle chefs, these mini-games are a delight despite their varying length.
Everything that Chibi-Robo does, whether that be normal movement or leaping around the place, requires Watts, the minuscule robot grabbing his tail plug and slotting it in any power socket to recharge. Let him run empty and you’ll collapse wherever you are, only to be rescued by Telly who will lecture you on the importance of keeping yourself juiced up. It’s not necessarily problematic until you run out of charge partway through a job, soon realising that you’ve lost all progress that you made up until that point.
The attention to detail of Chibi-Robo’s animations will regularly delight, the characters that you cross paths with making the whole adventure feel like something plucked out of Disney Pixar’s Toy Story. Stuttering frame rates regrettably detract from this appeal, as well as a meandering soundtrack that continuously loops.
Japanese developer skip’s dare to be different approach results in an active experience that successfully moves away from Chibi-Robo’s cleaning roots back on GameCube. It is the inaccuracy of 3DS camera integration that holds their vision back from delivering on the concept’s undeniable potential. Mr. Curator may cherish snaps of our household junk, but he’s lucky that he can even recognise what they are.