Review: Kirby: Planet Robobot
Posted 25 May 2016 at 13:00 by Sam C Gittins
Clearly keen to continue the success of the previous 3DS title Kirby Triple Deluxe which was released just under two years ago, HAL Laboratory have done it again by taking the template used in the hugely popular outing which contained three distinctly different Kirby experiences all placed in one package. This time around you get another adventure Story Mode in all its glory, Kirby Clash which is a more multiplayer focused affair where you play as one particular type of Kirby's abilities then team up with three other players to battle big bosses and finally Kirby 3D Rumble which is a fast-paced, combo-based mini 3D Kirby game which looks suspiciously similar to a title in the series which never was; but more on those later and back to the main event as the planet is in peril once again, which can mean only one thing... fun, frantic platforming plus some light puzzle solving!
Yes, Kirby is back in his latest adventure as he fights to save Planet Popstar from the Haltmann Works Company and its robotic army, this time you're up against the mysterious Susie who is commander of the aforementioned company and is surely a force to be reckoned with as in the intro you see this giant enemy base descend from the sky which plunges its mechanisms into the ground at five key locations across the planet in an attempt to drain all of its resources. Even the great King DeDeDe is afraid of this thing as it attacks his castle, Meta Knight of course attempts to go in for an all-out assault aboard the Halberd but to now avail as his ship is shot down by a giant laser; so I guess this means it's all up to Kirby again to save the day!
Starting out in the first alliterated area known as Patched Plains which Teaches you the basics of the game, it's here you will become acquainted with a fair few of Kirby's copy abilities, some mech sections plus you'll learn to explore enough so that you can obtain all of the Code Cubes otherwise you won't be getting to the boss. The setting is like any green starting area in other Kirby titles except it has more mechanised parts to it which adds some refreshing gameplay twists, the boss is one which should be very familiar except more robotic in design, it's a treat for the fans plus it leads to a more involved fight which doesn't disappoint.
Take that! *Clang!* That's not supposed to happen...
You'd think that playing as Kirby inside a robot mech suit would take away from his other abilities, on the contrary though it only enhances them as while in the suit you have a tractor-beam which can drag in abilities so for instance if you grab fire then you'll get to use a flame-thrower, you'll also be interacting with the level more as there are certain platforms which require you to lock into with the mech by pressing Up on the D-pad then you'll need to use the circle pad to rotate platforms or other devices in order to make new paths; aside from that you can destroy a fair amount but be careful what you break as sometimes if you destroy too much then you might do yourself out of the odd collectable or two so remember that Kirby is in no way timed and to take your time observing the stages as you explore.
Naturally all of Kirby's classic abilities are present including Beam being the useful projectile attack as ever, Cutter which plays a greater role in puzzles, Doctor Kirby who will see you now with a prescription of pills and powerful potions, Electric also aids you in connecting some circuits while proving useful in frying foes, then there's Fire which helps heat things up. You also have ESP which is most reminiscent of Ness' abilities from Earthbound as is the Sword in its blatant homage to Link from The Legend of Zelda series complete with all the moves you'd expect, there's also Poison which proves very tactical in its usefulness, Fighter is one of the classic mainstay staples of the series; also the Leaf ability is worthy of a mention just for the cheeky reference in it's description which simply reads "be a leaf on the wind!" which definitely got a genuine smile out of me.
Poison is a particularly deadly ability.
Given the mechanical theme of this title it should be unsurprising that the best abilities to absorb as Mech Kirby turn out to be two modes of transport, Wheel for instance turns you into a car which is handy in the second urbanised area Resolution Road which has roads to cross with cars which have Waddle Dee's behind the wheels trying to run over Kirby, there's even Kirby specific traffic lights; when you play as a car you're constantly jumping between the two dimensional planes as well in addition to solving some puzzles with pedal power, plus later on there's a Casino stage with billiard balls coming at you across a giant table in 3D! Even better though is when you turn into a Jet which turns the whole game into a shmup, or at least for that stage it does, of course it's more like a lite version of such a genre but it still hits all the right notes in addition to keeping that basic puzzle-solving mechanic all the while avoiding getting crushed as the stage auto-scrolls; which reminds me as there are actually a few more auto-scrolling sections in this title but they work well, forcing you to pick up the pace for these stages whereas normally you don't have the stress of a time limit.
Diving deeper into the adventure there's Overload Ocean an Underwater area with metalwork, wheel-mech section hads you racing along the rigging jumping between the two 3D planes, an autoscrolling factory stage followed by one seemingly set inside a freezer where fifty foot tall ice-cream cones are made in the background before perilously toppling over toward the foreground, splattering the screen and Kirby if you aren't swift in dodging, then you can skate across platforms made from ice lollies & ice-cream sandwiches as you use ice power to turn your enemies into ice cubes... it's an icely made level. In Gigabyte Grounds you get a Desert area with mechanised portions, brilliant mechanised devices, such as a water-drinking bird contraption turned into a flamethrower constantly on a tilt, clever stage revolving around poison clouds and wind turbines, the long electrical poles which reach from the foreground to the background first seen in Triple Deluxe make a return, plenty of puzzles to keep you guessing and a fantastic boss battle which I shall not spoil.
Kirby on his peaceful morning commute...
And on that note that's about all I can really say about the contents of the levels as it's better to at least have some surprises as you play, I can tell you though that if you enjoyed collecting keychains in Kirby Triple Deluxe then you'll love acquiring all of the stickers which are scattered throughout the stages including some rarer shiny ones which you'll really have to hunt out, there are nearly two hundred to collect plus you can apply at least two of them at a time onto the side of your mech; there's also amiibo support which gives you certain copy abilities based on which character you scanned and whike Link gives you the sword ability as you'd expect, you get the UFO ability for scanning in Kirby which is pretty decent plus too really nicely augmented abilities for scanning in Meta Knight and King DeDeDe which I'll let you see for yourself, it's just a shame custom paint jobs for the mechs via amiibo aren't available as would have been a nice bonus.
It's certainly a satisfying Story Mode overall with a fair few secrets to unlock as you play which I can't tell you about, plus some really cool unlockables once you finish the main game which are well worth persevering for. Perhaps the best thing about the campaign though it that you always feel as if the game is keeping you invovled in the world around you with plenty of interaction with the mechanics of the levels are you quite literally turn screws in the mech to move platforms towards or away from the screen or rotate devices to operate lifts, even the odd box puzzle is here as well just to keep you thinking; limiting the use of the mech to certain areas or stages means that Kibry is still every bit the hero on it own but if you're going to see this fantastic adventure through to the end then you're going to need a bit of help from your mechanical friend.
The mech suit in all of its shiny, pink glory!
After finishing the main game you'll unlock two substantial extra modes to play through, of course I won't spoil them here but anyone who has finished the excellent Kirby Triple Deluxe will recognise at least one of them which adds significant replay value and is an astonishing amount of fun, then there's the other mode which is surprisingly challenging at times, again though they both play to the unique strengths of the Kirby series which has so many wonderful facets to it. Of course you'll want to go back the the main game as well if you intend to collect everything, unless you're an obsessive player like myself who refuses to move onto the next stage until all major collectable items are obtained, this is how I decided to play through the story mode and I found it more than worthwhile as there are some nice bonuses for getting everything plus it pays to explore because you never know what references you might find in a Kirby title; this is another thing I like about the series as it always has these hidden secrets which are sure to put a smile on any gamers face plus the dialogue used within the story is nothing short of spectacular, again no spoilers here but I just wanted to reiterate that this is yet another fantastic adventure which is well worthy of your time.
Perhaps the most interesting inclusion in this package, Kirby 3D Rumble seems to take its core concept from an early prototype dating back a generation of two, either way this is clearly a greater, fully realised ame mode than just a demo as it depicts small areas in a form of isometric 3D in a similar fashion to Captain Toad on the Wii U as you seem to have some limited camera control as you run around the area inhaling enemies then expelling them into any others on-screen in order to keep your combo going while keeping a look out for medals as well in addition to getting through the stage quickly all in the name of going for a high score and a gold trophy or even Platinum if you're good enough. Every four stages seems to result in a boss battle which takes many interesting baddies to battle against - not all the typical encounters you might be expecting - while keeping you in those confined areas which will force you to work out a strategy as when it's just one enemy on screen you'll need to wait for your chance to inhale stars to spit back out at them all while jumping with limited ability to avoid attacks; it takes some practice to get good at it as if you want those high scores then you'll need to be nabbing multiple enemies at a time while spotting the patterns which will secure you those vital points in time, while there aren't as many stages as in the main story mode all I can say is that if this is a testing-ground for a possibly bigger downloadable game to be released in the future - similar to how we got enhanced versions of the other games in Triple Deluxe - then I would personally be happy purchase such a thing if it were to reach fruition.
Easily one of the most satisfying boss battles.
In the other game called Team Kirby Clash you effectively get a boss battle mode which takes on elements from your typical four player RPG/Adventure games where you have your tank dealing the damage, defense stopping you from getting overwhelmed, a healer backing everyone up and of course a mage dishing out the damage dealing spells; except replace that with coloured Kirby's which have Sword, Hammer, Doctor and Beam abilities respectively, you should have a good idea of how it all works. You have a way of seeing how much damage you're dealing to each enemy along with how much damage is being dealt to your team so as each player takes on their role - if you choose to play Wireless Quest (local only) - you devise a winning strategy for tackling each challenge, as you beat up the boss you may see a piece of a Power Tablet appear so if you manage to acquire all four pieces then a metronome appears which you try to hit in the centre as the more of you that do, the higher the damage - obviously just one press for single player - as a meteor attack then strikes your foe usually dealing a death blow; it's an enjoyable mode to play either alone or with friends but I still can't help but think that it could have done well with an online mode even if it would have probably proven to be short-lived as it would have been fun but as it is this is still a pretty comprehensive package.
Having come to expect nothing but the best from the visuals in Kirby titles, this is no exception plus it even exceeds the fantastic standard already created by Triple Deluxe which raised the bar by itself, once again the technical wizards at HAL have managed to create some simply stunning stereoscopic 3D effects which truly utilise what is surely the full potential of the effect as I used to look at the previous title and think that this had to be the zenith yet here there is an even greater dynamic look to it all; simply put you just have to see it in motion to truly appreciate it. Again the music which has always been a particular highlight of Kirby titles has a lot of memorable pieces of music, you will remember them all as they are recognisable yet they have a fresh spin on them as the new arrangements seem to showcase the best bits while adding in subtle flourishes which work with the overall tone, of course there's original music in there too including more this time around, it's all just such a joy to listen to as you play which is what matters then once you're done you'll be humming the tunes even when you're not which is truely a mark of masterful composition; some of the best pieces from Triple Deluxe made it across as well - the menu music is the same for instance - also the sound effects are once again perfect.
This stage looks tasty but... watch out for the giant falling ice-cream!
Being that I claimed Kirby Triple Deluxe as being "the best Kirby game I have played bar none" then this surely means that Kirby Planet Robobot deserves the complete cop-out title of "Best Kirby Game 2.0" as it takes everything which was so joyful about the title which made it possible, streamlined the parts which were less popular, added in some even more enjoyable mini-games into the package and has managed to create something equally as good in the process. If this is the forumla for which all future Kirby games will now follow then I am more than in approval with this, it seems that many people wanted a sequel to Triple Deluxe, this is essentially what we've got so there's not really anything else to say rather than a very big "Thank You" to Hal for creating something so wonderful and our deepest gratitude to the late Satoru Iwata as he was the Executive Producer for the game, it's likely one of the last games he worked on and his presence is definitely felt just as it will be sorely missed from future titles.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Anyone looking for an excellent platformer plus a whole lot more should be very satisfied with Kirby's latest adventure. Everything about it oozes charm through the very 3DS screen, I challenge anyone NOT to enjoy it because I just don't think that's possible.
Excellent use of 3D
Plenty of extras to unlock
Exceptional audio and visuals
Mech-based stages add further variety
An online mode for Kirby Clash might have had potential