E3 2006: Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol
Impressions directly from the showroom floor
Chibi-Robo, sleeper hit extraordinaire is back in an all new DS adventure, and this time the action takes place out doors. Once again it's up to everyone's favorite robot to save the day, revive the transformed flowers, reclaim the missing playground equipment, and make the park a nice place to play again. I think it's great that the DS is getting a Chibi-Robo title, maybe now it can receive some of the mainstream press that it deserved on the Gamecube.
Jumping from the Gamecube to the DS is no small feat in itself, but if anyone can do it, Chibi-Robo can! Non-surprisingly, the game play seems to benefit nicely from the DS's touch screen controls. Most of the traditional controls are regulated to the D-Pad --which navigate the robot -- and the shoulder buttons -- which perform many functions depending on the situation. The stylus and touch screen controls allow you to change camera angles, and activate items like the turntables, and your water squirter among other things.
Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol is one of the few DS games at the show with a pair of headphones attached, so that one can enjoy the game's music in the insanely loud atmosphere that is E3. That alone proves that music is a big deal in Chibi-Robo, and some of the sounds can actually help you out during your campaign. For instance, at the beginning of the game you're asked to revive some of the flowers scattered around outside. To do this, you first must use your stylus to squirt the flowers with the water squirter to make them erect, then you must pull out your turntables and stylus-spin the record to the music in order to make them dance, bringing them back to life. Without listening to the music, it's impossible to know whether or not you're on beat, otherwise making your attempts to revive the precious flowers futile.
Chibi-Robo is reminiscent of some of the cleaner looking platformers found on the Nintendo 64. The game features great stylus control, various recognizable elements from Chibi's prior home console adventure, and innovative game play thanks to a new mode of input. Now that a game in the series has found a home on what is arguably the most popular console in the world right now, let's hope it can be better exposed to the masses.