Chibi-Robo Park Patrol is one of those few great games that many people are just going to skip over because of its exclusivity to select retailers. Well at Nintendo Life we took it upon ourselves to give this game the review it deserves, and we must say that doing so put huge smiles on our faces; the unique story and amazing gameplay, bundled with the overall quirkiness of the game, makes it such an enjoyable challenge.
Looking at screenshots of the game, you might notice that everything seems quite large. The reason for this is that Chibi is a four-inch robot who's job is to save the environment and rebuild a park that was destroyed by Sergeant Smogglor and his evil Smoglings. Playing as the pint-sized hero, you must use your trusty squirter – a spray-gun that cultivates flowers from buds – and boom box to save the park! In case you're wondering, the boom box is used to dance; you dance because, with good timing, this can make flowers disperse seeds that can further enrich the park's floral habitat – just like in the real world...
While you're cleaning up the park, Sergeant Smogglor and his Smoglings will occasionally drop by to create havoc – turning your wide array colourful flowers into black flowers that wither and die when night falls. These veritable bad guys will also destroy bridges, fountains, and all things of beauty within your park. The only chance of stopping them is to use your trusty – evidently versatile – squirter to spray the Smoglings. If you spray them enough, they'll pop, causing water to fly in every direction. There are also some Smoglings that have developed special powers. In cases where you encounter one of these – like a giant Smogling that won't exploud when you shoot it with water – you'll need to think carefully and devise an imaginative strategy to take them down.
If you manage to grow a certain amount of flowers in one area, the soil there will transform into grass. Doing this will make the park better, which increases the amount of visitors it will receive. However, there are certain types of terrain that flowers can't grow due to an insufficient amount of nutrients within the soil. In order to transform this terrain and enrich the soil, toys will need to be used...
This is where Chibi goes to the city. Though most of the game revolves around maintaining a park and rebuilding it, there is a need to visit the city; here you can find items, go to the flower shop, and make friends with toys who will help you with the park. These playful friends all have a special attributes that will determine their cost-effectiveness for performing certain jobs within the park. There are many toys who will be glad to help you, none more memorable in our minds than Francois the French puppet.
It's not just social networking in the city, you can also sell flowers. To do this, you must first obtain the Clippers and cut the flowers in the park that you wish to sell. Then, once cut, you must bring them to the flower shop where the store clerk exchanges them for Happy Points. Happy Points are points that you can redeem for Watts, which is the currency in the game. With Watts, you can buy items for your park and pay other toys to help you build something in the park.
Not only can you enlist help from toys to improve the park, but you can also find the cartridges that are scattered throughout the greenery. Within these cartridges is special content: such as the ability to make hills in your park, make fountains and statues, build different types of terrain, and so on. Fortunately, cartridges are very easy to find: you can get them by helping toys, digging up X-marks in the ground, and even looking in recycling boxes found throughout the city. There are tons of these to find, and this provides a great means of keeping you engaged in the game.
As Chibi Robo is a robot, he runs on energy: exploring the park and city, will consume his energy. Because energy is integral to sustaining the little guy's activities you must use it wisely. If you ever lose all your energy, you'll awake at the station where you can recharge, buy items, check the local forecast, etc. While there is not too much bad in all that, you will find that, at your station, energy costs a price, whereas in the city, it's free. The lesson taught here is to use your energy wisely or it'll cost you, quite literally!
The station itself, which looks like Chibi-Robo's face, is epicentre of the game. It's in the middle of the path that separates the city and park, and is where you begin your quest each day. It's also where you talk to your friend, Chet, and where you recharge and kit yourself out. Some people say that it's inconveniently located due to the size of the park, but we thought it perfectly located as it acts as the nexus between the city and park.
Each day in the game starts in the morning and ends in the night. These go by quickly and, before you even reliaze it, many days have passed. As you make headway in the park maintenance – planting flowers, and working on its overall appearance – you will slowly unlock items. Many of these are dependant on you growing so many flowers, which allows you to purchase the items at your station. Once purchased, these items can be used at your whim; vehicles are probably the most handy as they allow you to travel through the park quickly.
The only real problem we had with Chibi Robo: Park Patrol was the mediocre presentation. There is large amount of repetition when characters speak; Chet often says the same things over and over again, which can get quite annoying, which can get quite annoying. Other characters also repeat what they say when you speak to them – infuriating because there is no option to skip dialogue.
In terms of Park Patrol's graphics, everything is pretty impressive. Visuals are clear, colourful and fit the game well. There is nothing blocky, which is always a plus, and everything has a sense of being real. There are a few problems we noticed – Chassey's tires don't appear to be attached to her – which could have been fixed, but overall, a pretty good job has been done.
Music is integral to game because of the boom box feature – it's the only way to get flowers to disperse seeds. Thankfully, the variety of music is great and the sound effects are good; the music on the boom box has quite a unique feel that has you always wanting for more! In all honesty, we were really impressed with the music and sound effects in this game.
The lack of places to explore is a bit of a limitation to the game; we would have liked to see some more areas to explore instead of retracing our steps on a daily basis, but there are still a lot of things to find, and it's very fun to customize your park with the items you've found. With tons of items to customize your park, maybe it's actually a good thing that there aren't too many locations!
Chibi Robo's longevity is substantial; there is great replay value in this game. You'll be playing this game for a long time before you find every item there is. Having some Nintendo Wi-Fi modes would have further increased the incentive to keep playing; it would have been nice to show your park off to other people and see what they have done with theirs.
Overall, Chibi Robo: Park Patrol is an exceptional game. It's a really enjoyable to play and has plenty of replay value when compared to other games out there. If you're the type of person who must find or unlock everything in a game, this is for you. The amount of content packed in is incredible, and so is the presentation. Simply put, this is a must-have title for many gamers.