Maybe I’m just an oddball, but I really don’t recall the games I played as a kid until I play something very much reminiscent of it. Most likely due to how as a child I often preferred thinking about video games, as opposed to playing them due to how much I was intimidated by failure, not learning to appreciate challenge due to how I rarely encountered it anywhere before in my cushy life. The unknown scared me and I chose to play games where the objective was far more lenient for my piss poor hand eye coordination, or I just activated cheat codes. The point is that I played Chibi-Robo! back in 2006, which is the lens I choose to review its sequel under.
Chibi-Robo!: Park Patrol Review Release Date: 02/10/2007 Platform: DS Developer: Skip Ltd. Publisher: Nintendo
Acting as a pseudo-sequel of the original title, where a four inch tall housekeeping robot saved a troubled marriage by going back in time and whatever else I can remember when I was essentially another person. All there is to Chibi-Robo!: Park Patrol’s premise is that you’re a helpful robot who is tasked with managing a destroyed park and fill it up with flowers while occasionally stopping a gang of smog-centric baddies who despise nature because they are literally made of pollution. Which in itself is a bit on the nose with the whole environmentalism message, but it involves humans to the point where their faces are never shown as the very well trodden path of the environmentalism message is more downplayed as you’re stopping jerks from blackening up flowers.
Which is not quite as simple when it comes to the gameplay as a whole. Using a fairly minimal layout with all actions done through the touch screen, D-pad, and shoulder buttons, a lot of the game is just walking or driving around in toy bikes and cars, or squirting flowers to make them bloom before taking out a miniature boom box and dancing to make more of them appear. While picking and giving away said flowers in order to get Happiness Points, which bring up a very fascinating idea that the game never utilizes as much as it could.
Chibi-Robo is battery powered and is constantly using watts of energy by doing any action or walking about. With a limited amount of power before he croaks, the earlier days in the game were a mix between managing Chibi’s own mortality and continuing to get more Watts by converting the aforementioned Happiness Points by growing flowers and making the park you’re in more attractive. It is actually pretty tense playing as a character who very clearly needs to work in order to live, and an idea that I’ve had many a time.
However, it did not take long for me to get an insane amount of happiness points by giving out flowers to the flower shop in the small accessible strip outside of the park, and have more converted into watts than I would ever need. Which I guess is necessary for the park renovations you can order, but once I gave 25 flowers to the shop, I had too many Happiness Points for them to be fully converted into 5 maxxed out digits of watts. In the area outside of the park, there are seven adorable living toys who can become your friends, which means they will assemble structures and alter the land of the park for you if you give them enough watts.
As a mechanic it often resembles management, investing in hopes of getting more overall watts so you can eventually fill all 49 squares with green and flowers. But aside from that, the characters you are able to befriend until you end up working them too hard and they need to be rescued from a cardboard box prison, are the heart of the game. From a green afro wearing monkey doll who will teach you dance moves if given a cheeseburger, to two surfing Penguin mascots for a soft drink, there were more than a few times when I squealed as they did a thing outside of working while going on a character arc often influenced by other characters.
The later part of which can oftentimes be a pain, because you can only have three working friends at once, and they will need to get exhausted from work before you can get rid of them. When I would be totally fine with the characters all standing around doing whatever because of how one of them is a tree toy who wants to be a real tree, while looking disturbingly joyful. Yet, they are only a set of minor characters when they have enough appeal to be Animal Crossing characters.
In fact, the game has a very Animal Crossing-esc feeling. You’re just a nice person in a place doing a relaxing activity without a lot of danger aside from a more objective focused beginning. A certainly delightful feeling, at least until it ends by giving you unlimited watts for Chibi-Robo itself, and turns the enemies into pink orbs that make flowers into rainbow flowers. And once the characters said all their available lines and went through their developments into becoming good friends, the only thing to do was rest thing about the part and build once more.
I guess I shouldn’t expect that much from a game that I recall having a budget price tag along with a store exclusive retailer embedded on the boxart, at least my copy from Newegg, but as I spent the last few hours of my literal day with the game, trying to do the boombox touch screen minigame well despite how it is very iffy most of the time. And with the only other distraction being minigames that rarely served a practical purpose other than being something else to do, things got boring quite fast. Which I guess is a good thing if that is my biggest problem with the game.
Although, I would normally have issues with a fully 3D DS title, but the bright set of colors and simple models for the enemies, being balls on legs with faces, kept the issues I have with the system and polygons at minimal. As my biggest gripe is how the game takes place in an acre of land, which sounds alright until I mention draw distance. With most of the world looking pretty empty up close, and even a bit too barren given the available tools, as most of my park was just flowers along pathways, with trees and appealing looking playsets being few and far between, as most of the park is made for Chibi-Robo, rather than the visitors you are rewarded for attracting. I just wanted to add a giant looking slide, is that too much to ask?
Thankfully, the frustrations possible are neglected by very relaxing music for the world, with character themes capturing the rest of the fairly mellow score that somehow doesn’t feel juxtaposed by the occasional dance beats you can lay down. And after growing over over a hundred and fifty thousand, I’m still not tired of the sound effect for growing a flower, or the same garbled language the character speak in.
Park Patrol is an adorable little game that while it does not take advantage of every toy in its box, it is still a very fun little title that makes for an excellent game to play for half an hour a day. From a neat mix between points, money, and life, to an energetic cast, there is a lot to like about the game aside from the appealing, although sometimes hindered aesthetics. As my least favorite thing is how it made me regret selling the first.
An impressive product, but won’t always astound due to a fair number of flaws that are difficult to ignore. Still worth your cash and a few hours of your time.
Posting this and barely remember writing it, I’m so good at this. Speaking of my quality, I’d like bits criticizing how mine is low, high, or mixed. If you’ve already read my review, it would only take a minute and would likely make my reviews better.