(Note: This is not OUR final review of the game; rather, it is our partner Haedox’s review. Every time he makes a video, we’ll put up the script along with the video, for your viewing pleasure. Or you can just not read it and wait for a price drop or sale.)
Zip Lash is unlike any Chibi-Robo! game to date; the only real similarity it has with the other games is the fact that Chibi-Robo! is in it. Instead of being a three dimensional, adventure platformer like virtually every other Chibi-Robo! installment, Zip Lash is a side-scroller. So, does that change in gameplay work in its favor or does it suffer because of it?
Well, why don’t we begin with the story. The first thing you see when you load your save file is the little robot in space, scrubbing a satellite. Then, the infamous guide TV screen tells you about an alien race that’s stealing all the human’s resources so it’s up to you to stop them. And that’s pretty much it for the story aside from the ending scene. I mean, a title like Chibi-Robo! doesn’t have to have a compelling story to be interesting, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely exempt from criticism. The story just feels tacked on and like a lame excuse to go on adventure, which is probably not an issue to newcomers to the series, but as a fan of all the games, Zip Lash’s story feels particularly lackluster. That being said, though, it didn’t make my experience worse; I just wish the story could have been a bit more interesting with more quirky dialogue, interesting characters, and so on.
As for the presentation, it’s alright. The art style, derived from its predecessors, is nice and polished, and overall, everything is bright and colorful. Not to mention, the character models look great and the designs of most of the enemies are fairly interesting. Also, some environments and backgrounds kind of look distinct, but in all honesty, there’s not much, from a visual standpoint, Zip Lash does to make it stand out from every platformer ever. When you boil down this presentation to its basic level, you have a run of the mill presentation where it starts out in a grasslands, then a “desert”, and so on. While the graphics are certainly good for a handheld, the overall presentation felt generic to me. There’s not much variation in the visuals all things considered. However, even despite the visuals not being anything special, the game doesn’t have any technical issues and runs smoothly, so really, my complaints are more nitpicks than anything.
But the soundtrack is as forgettable as music can be. The best way to describe the soundtrack is that it’s essentially the white noise you listen to when you go to sleep. There is not one track that stands out from the others, or one track I can even distinguish from the others. Unlike Kirby Triple Deluxe, a game very similar to this one, there isn’t a world that has a theme I want to relisten to, which is a shame considering the fact that the original had a stellar soundtrack.
You could probably tell by now, but the gameplay doesn’t fair any better. Zip Lash is as generic, simple, and not challenging as platformers come. The main gimmick here is Chibi-Robo!’s plug, which can be tossed around to kill enemies, grapple onto ledges, break objects, or open chests. At first, the plug mechanic took a bit to get used to, but as the game went on and the level design became “plug-centric”, I came to admire the feature. It’s implemented into the levels seamlessly and unobtrusively, making it really novel. Plus, you can use two variants of it. By pressing the X button, you can use the quick whip where unleashing your plug is instantaneously. Usually, the game likes to motion you towards using this for close-up combat and for simple tasks. The other usage of his plug involves the Zip Lash where Chibi-Robo stands in one place and aims a reticle to any place he wants to throw the plug. The Zip Lash is extremely useful for hitting faraway objects and so on, and like the regular whip, it’s use is intertwined with the level design, which is fantastic. That’s something I have to give this title a lot of credit for, it’s level design is pretty well constructed with each level, from a gameplay standpoint, feeling different from one and other. Like one level will have you soar through the skies in a wonky controlling balloon and another will have you traverse through a whole part of a level to get more length for your whips to use on opening a door. Luckily, this genius design stays true throughout the entire adventure with a couple minor monotonous mechanics. But, the problem I have with the majority of the levels is that pretty much all of them are simple and kind of overly long. Now, this wouldn’t normally be detrimental to the game, but since Zip Lash has this absolutely atrocious chance wheel mechanic, this flaw is only accentuated. See, after each level, you will spin a wheel for moves to get to another level in that world, but the problem is that you need to beat every level in that world to move onto the next one. So, if you are skipping levels left and right, you will have to replay some old ones in the hopes of getting a spin to move to an unplayed level. Because you have to play levels, which yield no rewards for fully exploring them other than points and costumes, it dampers your overall experience tremendously. This spin mechanic essentially ruins the game for me. I spent so much time trying to get to one final level, but the wheel kept screwing me over. Not to mention, levels are pretty long, which only makes your time with Zip Lash more unnecessarily lengthy and boring.
So, overall, Chibi-Robo! Zip lash is not a fun game. Though the presentation and story are decent, the gameplay is subpar at best. If it weren’t for the spin mechanic, I would have probably enjoyed Zip Lash a lot more, but it just drains any entertainment out of the experience. Even though there are a lot of interesting and unique ideas here, they feel underdeveloped. The better question I should be answering is, “will this save Chibi-Robo!”, and well I really don’t know. It’s not that good of a game to have people keep telling each other about it, but it does have the amiibo, which could be a big selling point. However, as it stands now, Zip Lash is just a mediocre platformer that I don’t feel comfortable recommending to you. For 30 bucks, you will get your money’s worth, as there is a lot of content here, but I don’t think you will enjoy it, regardless of your stance on platformers. If you think the spinning mechanic won’t hamper your experience, then go for it. Other than that, I would only recommend this to people if you want to support Chibi-Robo!, but even then, I don’t think it’s worth it. But as always, if you disagree or agree with me, let me know in the comment section below. Thank you so much for watching and take care. Have a wonderful day and good bye!