Charming cast; photo premise unique; solid controls; engaging gameplay.
Photos too hard to take; inconsistent ranking system; some chores a bit bland.
One of the things I love about the eShop is that it allows under-loved franchises to get back in on the action. Chibi-Robo, which got its start on GameCube back in 2006, is one such series. Chibi-Robo: Photo Finder reunites players with the lovable robot janitor, this time with an emphasis on using the 3DS camera to bring real world objects into the game. While a bit rough around the edges, Photo Finder does a good job of capturing the quirky spirit of the previous games.
Chibi-Robo himself is an adorable little automaton tasked with playing janitor to an eccentric museum curator. Photo Finder is reminiscent of the Pikmin games, in that the player’s perspective is shrunk down to the diminutive size of a small toy. Chibi interacts with rolls of toilet paper and laptops that dwarf his miniature stature, which adds a certain whimsy to the experience. What would normally be mundane environments, like a garage, for instance, become sublimely fascinating by virtue of their new sense of grandeur. Graphically, Photo Finder is a bit shaky, primarily due to its hit or miss framerate, but for the most part, I found the visuals to be immersive and rich.
Photo Finder revolves around collecting items called NostalJunk, which would truly be junk in the real world, but are seen as museum pieces in the game. The cast is cute, though some of the dialogue was a bit overlong, in my playthrough. Not horrible, mind you, but a touch too heavy-handed here and there. Chibi’s tasks boil down to basic household chores for most folks, but in the context of a video game (and being only a few inches tall), they become entertaining. That’s not to say Chibi’s objectives are all vanilla, as there’s plenty of weirdness on display, too. Let’s just say I didn’t expect I’d take orders from a sponge!
Mixed in between chores are some light platforming challenges and plenty of exploration. I never thought it would be so entertaining to wander around the top of a desk, but Photo Finder makes it work. Chibi can’t operate limitlessly, though, and must be charged from time to time. I found recharging cumbersome at first, but quickly realized that by completing objectives in the game, Chibi’s power cells could be charged further, extending my time traversing the different environments. There’s no denying that not all of the tasks given to Chibi are winners, though, with some genuine snoozers interspersed throughout the adventure.
My biggest problem with Photo Finder is the mediocre camera implementation. The idea is sound, as the player must snap pictures of real world objects that will fit within mysterious silhouettes. To get these outlines, the player must purchase something called Silhouette Film in order to take the necessary snapshots. The actual picture-taking is where things go wrong, however. The game ranks the player’s photos based on how well the object they’ve found matched the silhouette in question. Photo Finder is simply way too inconsistent and shaky about this process. Some of my pics randomly were awarded higher scores than others, despite being framed and shot the same way. It’s the weakest part of the whole game and a true missed opportunity.
Photo Finder is a decent adventure stuffed with charm and fun. The concept of cleaning and doing chores is as novel and interesting as it was when Chibi first bowed. While the actual picture-taking is a bit wonky, and some of the chores overly tedious, I found myself sucked right into Photo Finder‘s tiny world. Nintendo is also supporting the game with additional content via Wi-Fi, so be sure to hook your game to the Internet for additional fun! Definitely consider Photo Finder for a download if you’ve been wanting for a fresh title on 3DS.