Kirby has just as much right of being in the spotlight as any other Nintendo character and yet his video-games are never that popular. Regardless, it’s probably a good sign that the company is still diligently getting long time Kirby developer, HAL Laboratory, to release another title with the Nintendo 3DS release of Kirby: Planet Robobot.
In this new adventure, the peaceful realm of Dream Land is yet again invaded by an unknown group that quickly turns it into a mechanical wonderland. It’s up to Kirby to go and defeat this new threat and ensure that his land returns to its original state. With the land given a makeover, it means that the usual colourful fantasy environments associated with Kirby titles are replaced by metallic tubes and other mechanical structures. This isn’t necessarily bad considering that there are still some nice sights to see such as a flashy casino or the busy town areas, where Kirby has to pay attention when crossing the road. In a way, it’s interesting to see what it is like when what is essentially an organic world full of greenery is consumed by modern technology.
Kirby’s basic movement controls and attacks in general feel somewhat clunky in this title. The little guy doesn’t even seem to run quite as fast as in previous tittles. This is likely to make it more enticing for players to use the abilities and also adapt quickly to the new mech mechanics.
Yes, one of the highlights of this title is being able to control a mech. In fact, the mech works really well and it is not only easy to control, but most importantly fun to use. It even can make use of Kirby’s trademark enemy ability copycat power to make the mech more powerful. The use of this powerful machine to operate switches and other items doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
Kirby: Planet Robobot makes use of the background and foreground to have interconnected routes in most levels. It’s interesting to often move between both with the help of the mech and the various abilities. It definitely makes for far more complex levels than those found in most previous Kirby adventures. There are also high action levels where the mech is transformed into a aircraft, for some air shooting antics, or a speeding race car. These are a welcome break from the traditional platform sections and the controls work just fine.
Not only does the title make use of most of the abilities that fans are used to seeing in Kirby titles, but it also adds a few more. At least one will make long time Nintendo fans smile given that it uses the power of a certain psychic kid from another Nintendo franchise. The powers are very effective and definitely come in handy during some of the boss battles. It’s also interesting to see the different ways that they power-up the mech.
An idea that makes a return from the last Nintendo 3DS Kirby title, Triple Threat, is the inclusion of items that are used to get access to each area’s boss level. These are called Code Cubes and it’s not that difficult to find them in each of the levels. If anything, it gives a legitimate reason for trying to find every collectible hidden in each level. There are also many stickers to find throughout the mechanised Dream Land or by making use of StreetPass. These are used to decorate the mech and although it is nothing more than a superficial feature, it is still somewhat appealing to get the chance to customise the mech – even if it’s only a basic option.
What is obvious about Kirby: Planet Robobot is that it’s brimming with confidence. In fact, it never quite seems to falter as it charges full speed ahead both figuratively and when using the powerful mech. The same applies to the upbeat soundtrack that continues the tradition of including remixed versions of well known tracks from previous titles. Even though it’s apparent that there is a certain routine set in place in terms of the way that levels are played for each area, it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Even the boss fights are decent with some of them being modified mechanical versions of familiar bosses from previous Kirby titles, such as the giant grumpy tree, Whispy Woods.
For once, this is also a title that takes full advantage of the 3D effect feature that was more popular when the handheld was initially released. In here, the use of different layers in levels really makes for some eye popping visuals when playing with the 3D effect activated.
Perhaps it’s the energetic nature of the title or the fact that it is fun to play, but it falls prey to certain familiar issues, like many other Kirby titles. It never feels like there is much of a challenge and the story mode doesn’t take that long to complete. It’s handy that there are not only additional modes that are unlocked after the story is completed, but some other modes already available from the start.
The title manages to become even more spirited during the modes unlocked. More so with the time attack Meta Knight themed mode, where the proud knight goes through areas from the story mode as fast as possible. It certainly makes for a better challenge. Modes available from the start, such as Kirby 3D Rumble, where the pink guy battles enemies in 3D levels are a welcome addition.
Team Kirby Clash is a lot of fun and it’s great that not only does it supports local play, but it can even be done with just one cart. It’s basically a light version of a RPG where players pick one Kirby ability representing a class and then proceed to defeating various monsters. It even has text pop-ups for when certain actions are performed. It almost feels like they could be standalone downloadable titles.
Amiibo enthusiasts will also approve of the feature to automatically get an ability by using one of the figures. Each amiibo has an ability associated with it and it’s commendable that Nintendo didn’t make it so amiibo were needed to unlock some abilities.
Although nothing particular extraordinaire there is no denying that this is another solid entry in the series. The title’s enthusiasm is contagious and it makes for an enjoyable adventure – even if it might feel like a brief one with regards to the main story.