Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-10-18 Nintendo DS Action/Adventure E (Everyone) Nintendo / Skip

I don't know much about the original Chibi-Robo (never had a GameCube) except that it took place indoors, in a family home. Park Patrol takes Chibi-Robo outdoors on an environmental quest.

Pollution is spreading, and the local park has been turned into a wasteland. It's up to Chibi-Robo - a clever little battery-powered robot - to restore it back to what it once was, by planting flowers, defending them from Smoglings and customizing the park to attract more visitors. The ultimate goal is to defeat the polluting villain, Sergeant Smogglor.

Chibi's initial tools are a squirter to water flower buds, and a boom box to help them grow. The game is entirely played with the stylus via the touch screen, with few exceptions. For example, to water a bud, you must pump the squirter by sliding the stylus up and down. To make a flower grow and bloom, you pick a song from the boom box, spin the record manually and do a little dance. Depending on how well you do, the flower will grow and produce more or less seeds.

Chibi runs on watts, which is not only his power source but the currency of the game. You don't gain them directly though, instead, any Happy Points you receive are converted into watts at your little headquarters. Planting flowers, building park equipment, playing mini-games in the park and doing mini-quests in town rewards you with Happy Points.

Chibi's power is also needed in some occasions to power up any toys he finds. Once you power them up, you might have to do a little favor for them so they will join your staff and help around the park.

You can't build or modify the park unless you have helpers, and you can have up to three at the same time. Once you have picked a helper and its job, you get to spin a slot machine to try for a discount in their wages.

However, after a couple of jobs, the toys run out of juice, so you will have to go fetch them in town again.

These characters are all very wacky, in their own way. Talking to them will sometimes give you extra Happy Points, depending on your replies. There is a pair of penguins who are the spokespersons for PopFizz Soda, a girl-car that has a crush on Tampa, the soldier who wants a more peaceful life, a French marionette, a dancing monkey and several others.

You can exchange your Happy Points by watts when you plug Chibi in to recharge. Then you can spend them on park upgrades, upgrades for Chibi (water resistance, higher battery capacity), stickers and cartridges.

There are a lot of hidden cartridges too, obtainable through quests or sometimes by digging for treasure in the park. These usually unlock new goodies and tools, for example flattening land, repairing bridges, building a windmill that you can use to recharge while outside, or placing some Smogling repellers. As for park upgrades, you can turn sand into fertile soil, demolish or build rivers and paths, manholes for quicker transportation and games.

Chibi also gets other useful items to help him out, such as clippers to cut flowers (you can hand them in at the florist for Happy Points) and a bike or car to move around the park faster.

In the middle of all the responsibility of finding and powering up toys, doing little quests and planting flowers, you also have to defend the park from those pesky Smoglings. The computer will alert you when they are coming, so you must go out before they do too much damage and turn your beautiful flowers black. Black flowers wither at nightfall, so you should cut them and hand them in at the florist later. To get rid of the Smoglings, you chase them with your squirter. The more they get soaked, the more the swell. When they explode, new flowers will sprout and sometimes an X will appear where you can dig for treasure.

This eco-friendly game is one for the whole family, simple enough for the children, light-hearted, although it is a little repetitive and the young ones might get tired of it soon. As for the not so young, I think there should be an option to speed up the text or skip certain scenes entirely. It became a bit cumbersome to read "lets turn those happy points into watts", "lets get your fully recharged" and "do you want to save now?" coming from the little helper all the time.

But that aside, Park Patrol is pretty entertaining and somehow addictive. Plus, Chibi-Robo is one of the cutest things I've ever seen. I want one to help with my garden too!

Special thanks to Allison Guillen, Eileen Tanner and Nintendo for providing a copy of this title.