Kirby: Triple Deluxe - Review
If Mario is Nintendo's default platformer, and Donkey Kong is there for the extra challenge, then Kirby is definitely platforming set to easy mode. After all, the adorable pink ball of bubblegum has a permanent glide ensuring missed-timed jumps are almost never a problem, while his health bar means you have more leeway than the "two strikes and you're out" approach used by Nintendo's other platformers.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe sees the little guy finally make it onto Nintendo's 3DS. Split up across six different worlds, developers HAL Laboratory get to show off just how confident they are with Nintendo's portable console. Levels are bright and colourful, with activity being split up between the foreground and background to better show off the 3D capabilities of the 3DS. It's a good job too because, given that this is Kirby, the whole thing is rather easy to breeze straight through.
The first four worlds or so are incredibly undemanding, with most enemies being minor annoyances than outright threats. Environmental hazards start to pose a bigger problem once you reach the final two worlds but this is a game that, for over half its runtime, is sorely lacking in challenge. There's typically a Sun Stone requirement, much like how Mario has to collect stars, to unlock later levels, and encourage greater exploration, but it's unlikely to slow down your progression.
In one sense this isn't a problem, simple gameplay doesn't mean simple game design. HAL Laboratory have crafted an incredibly playful platformer, one that encourages you to tinker around with the mechanics and see what happens. All this is thanks to Kirby's signature ability. As always, he's capable of sucking up nearby enemies like a portable vacuum cleaner and then either spit them out, or ingest them to gain additional abilities.
There's a wide variety of different forms for the pink gumball, and the number of unique moves each form has is really impressive. Some, like the Stone form are fairly simple, granting you near immunity to most attacks by hunkering down and then jumping out with a barrage of smaller rocks to attack nearby enemies. Others, like the Ninja, are really quite complex, at least for a platformer, with the ability to cling onto worlds, wield a sword, and toss throwing knives in any direction.
It's the experimentation that keeps things interesting. The excitement when you get hold of a new form leads to some more time playing around, just seeing what it can do. Unfortunately, the rest of the game lacks the same level of creativity. Bosses in particular are shamefully rehashed time and time again throughout a campaign that, in total, isn't all that long. The bosses themselves are rather fun, if somewhat simplistic, but there's just not enough of them, resulting in repeated re-skins of the same enemies even before the halfway mark.
Likewise, the environments flick through every single platforming cliché from the last twenty years. Snow levels? Check. Fire levels? Check. Final world weird space levels? Check. It's a disappointing approach from a developer that on the one hand truly seems to grasp the playful nature of Kirby, and craft a really fun game around him, only to fill parts of it with pretty but uninspiring chaff.
Some segments have Kirby enter "Hybernova" form and turns his humble sucking power into an all out tornado. Here again, HAL Laboratory get to show off their skill with Nintendo's console. Kirby gobbles up everything in his path like a category five hurricane; uprooting trees, enemies and nearby rock formations only to gulp it down in one go moments later. They're certainly not that challenging, instead trying to dazzle you with all the flashing lights and pretty animations, but they are something of a treat.
Meanwhile, the Triple Deluxe in the title refers to the two additional modes that come with the game. The first is Kirby Fighters which is essentially Super Smash Bros. except with characters being the different Kirby forms. It's a decent aside, and the opportunity to play with other players rather than the computer makes for a nice addition. It's unlikely to really hold your interest for all that long however, much like Dedede's Drum Dash, the other mode, which has you jumping from platform to platform as King Dedede whilst trying to match the rhythm of some music.
Both mini-games are nice filler for a campaign that's rather thin on the ground but it just ends up leaving the question, why wasn't that time spent fleshing out the main game? Kirby: Triple Deluxe is gorgeous, funny and impossible not to like, much like it's lead character. It's a shame then that the developers can't quite match Kirby's creativity at changing forms with more imaginative gameplay.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe was released on May 16th exclusively for the 3DS.
© 2014 LudoLogic