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Chibi-Robo

Bold primary colours, an adorable, tiny hero and the mother of all tidying-up jobs to do.

We've been here before, but Skip's thin tin man doesn't get quite so carried away by his task as Katamari's Prince. Chibi Robo goes about his chores as he finds them, painstakingly, one at a time, and with everybody's happiness - not their mass - on his mind.

At its most menial, the route to a harmonious household is by disposing of rubbish, scrubbing away at stains with a toothbrush or feeding cookie crumbs to hungry fish.

Robo's tools, along with all items, are stored in his amazingly capacious head and selected from a circular menu system with a flick of the stick (according to current Nintendo fashion, since Zelda Twilight Princess also renovates its clumsy inventory in this way).

They include helicopter blades for gliding, a teacup that serves as an even more quaint reprise of Solid Snake's cardboard box and a popgun for dealing with parasitic mechanical spiders.

True happiness is more then just cleanliness, however, and Robo will need to communicate with his owners and the other strange, toy-like occupants of the house by dressing up in achingly cute costumes (such as frog, patient or superhero) designed to appeal to their natures.

There are indications of a touching, everyday side to the surreal story - father has been banished to sleep on the couch because mother is 'mad all the time' - while a short day/night cycle brings intriguing changes to Robo's environment that could deepen the puzzles significantly.

Even with its full-movement Nintendo makeover, Chibi Robo is a simplistic and leisurely experience, with slightly sluggish controls and a lack of immediate freedom to clamber and explore all that looming furniture as much as you'd like to.

If its domestic world opens up, and later tasks prove as elaborate and involving as that gorgeous animation, it might yet be the perfect distraction from actually doing the tidying up.



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