Have you ever seen a game, thought it was a good idea, tried it and then discovered something was amiss? You couldn’t put your finger on it exactly, but it didn’t exactly feel right. I had one of those experiences myself, earlier this month, upon playing Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash for the first time.
I’m a long time fan of Chibi. He’s one of three reasons I wanted a GameCube. I stalked local Walmarts for a copy of Chibi-Robo! Park Patrol. I even paid money for Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder. If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is. When I heard about his platforming 3DS adventure, Zip Lash, I was determined to give it a try. It stars my favorite robot buddy. It’s coming to the 3DS. It’s going to work with what will probably be one of the most adorable and rarest amiibo. I was all in.
Then, I played Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash at E3 2015. I went in expecting an easier version of Umihara Kawase. The mechanics were similar, after all. Chibi would use his plug to grapple to higher areas, pull on things and attack enemies. It seemed like the perfect setup to a physics-based platformer.
The problem is, Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash is clunky. I know Chibi is a robot, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a smoothness to his movements. Especially since he’s supposed to be swinging and rappeling his way around the world. You’d think there’d be some sort of elegance to his adventures, but there wasn’t.
The demo was also much easier than I expected. Yes, Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash has always been more about enjoying the ride than facing overwhelming odds. I know he wasn’t going to morph into Nintendo’s greatest action hero for this game, but that doesn’t mean someone should be able to walk through a level without expending any effort. It was so disappointing and anticlimactic that I couldn’t bring myself to play more than ten minutes. It was boring. You know there’s trouble when a previous game about performing household chores was more enthralling.
Perhaps it was a case of a bad E3 demo. Maybe Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash doesn’t show well in small doses. There are many variables here, to be sure. Still, the experience turned me off and left me thinking that I’d rather save the money I would have spent on the game and put it toward ensuring I acquire a Chibi amiibo.