Let’s get the first bit of sacrilege out of the way: I never played the original Chibi-Robo on Gamecube. During that time, I did have a Gamecube, but I didn\’t really find much interest in the quirkiness of Chibi-Robo. Oddly enough, I did enjoy the Katamari Damacy series, so I always felt like I missed out on Chibi-Robo. When Nintendo announced at Nintendo Direct that Chibi-Robo was coming to the 3DS, I felt like this would be a great way for me to experience on what I missed out on for the Gamecube.
Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder is an interesting concept. You play as Chibi-Robo, thrust into \”The Curetor’s\” museum and must collect pictures of \”Nostal-Junk\”, which is common day items in today’s world. For the record, I found \”The Curator\” to be a genuinely terrifying character, which his odd voice and over done movements. Maybe I\’m alone in that. Anyways, Chibi must take pictures of select items using special film to add items to the museum so that it can be profitable.
The film used in the game is not just given to you however. You must earn \”Happy Points\” to purchase the film. The way to earn \”Happy Points\” is to do mini-games for strange and outlandish characters. The better you do, the more points you get for your film. While it may seem like a chore, I actually enjoyed the variety of the mini-games. One has you shooting things in a first-person perspective, which I believe is the first use of a first-person shooter on the 3DS, oddly enough.
The real joy in the game is when you get enough \”Happy Points\” to use on the film to take your pictures. The problem with this is the same problem that Spirit Camera: Cursed Memoirs faced: The 3DS camera just isn\’t that good. In order to take a proper picture, you have to have good lighting. I\’m not sure if you need a spot light shining down on you, or if a UFO needs to shine a bright beam to the ground, but the game has some real issues recognizing your photos. That brings a problem because once you start taking a picture you have nine attempts to get it right. The game grades you on a percentage of what the image you are taking, so accuracy is a must.
The real tragedy in this is that it really isn\’t the games fault, but more the hardware. For example, one image was that of a t-shirt. I laid a t-shirt down on my living room floor and attempted to take the picture. First, the game wouldn\’t recognize the image because I didn\’t have enough light. I used an app on my cellphone to shine a beam of light on the shirt, but I couldn\’t get the picture right still. The game traces out a pre-designed image of what the picture should be like, and if you aren\’t within those parameters, your picture percentage suffers. Since you need the game to at least recognize the image by 60%, it makes things very difficult when in actuality they shouldn\’t be.
That’s not to say the mechanic is completely broken however. My favorite picture by far was taking one of a can. I went into my kitchen, opened the fridge, and placed a beer can with the refrigerator light shining on it. I snapped a picture, and here comes Chibi in my fridge, takes my beer can out of the fridge, and returns it to the museum. Moments like that make the game shine, and it’s a shame that the 3DS camera doesn\’t allow for it to happen as often as it should.
Graphically, the game is very solid. Chibi moves with a certain grace to him, and the animation is very fluid. The world itself is interesting, and althoughThe Curator scares the hell out of me, he is very well animated. The music in the game is charming, and although there is no voice acting, there is a \”language\” that the characters in the world speak.
Overall, Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder is an interesting game. It is a much better use of the 3DS camera then Spirit Camera: Cursed Memoirs was, but it still isn\’t a gameplay mechanic that can be fully used. If the 3DS had a more powerful built in camera, or a flash feature, the game would be a much better experience. As it is, Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder is only a $9.99 purchase, and it is worth the money. Just grab a flash light, a spot light, or harness the power of the sun to take your pictures with a high clarity so you can fully enjoy the game.