Occasionally Nintendo reveals a game out of the blue with a nearby release date, reminding us of the company's ability to deliver delightful spontaneity. Kirby: Planet Robobot is one such release, announced in the early March Nintendo Direct and all set for an early June release in the West. Having sampled what it's offering over a number of hours we're pleased to report that this is anything but a rushed and sloppy sequel - it's simply more lovely Kirby gameplay with a fun twist.
HAL Laboratory has a previous release with this IP on 3DS with Kirby: Triple Deluxe, which was charming and hit many marks. It was arguably lacking a little spark, despite its overt cuteness, playing rather safe and struggling to go from being 'good' to 'great'. It did little wrong, and offered fun extras and smiles all around, but it didn't deliver a knockout blow - the game's Hypernova gimmick looked great at first but quickly lost it lustre.
Planet Robobot could tip to the next level, however, giving Kirby a sequel that improves upon what came before. The core gameplay remains, naturally - Kirby walks, runs, jumps, floats and sucks in enemies (abilities) and items. Yet there are flashes of creativity courtesy of the storyline, and Kirby's transformations also spring to life in some pleasurable moments.
The key hook, as the name suggests, is that robotic foes have arrived and taken over the world. With that come the new contextualised sections in which you jump into a mech shell and transform into a hulking representation of the pink one. It's a delight the first time it happens and hasn't lost its allure for us as yet, especially as the mechs absorb enemies and utilise an alternative twist on their abilities. The fun of past generations in discovering Kirby's transformations has been multiplied here.
Mech Kirby is, of course, powerful and rather destructive, which can dramatically change your approach to a level. It's more dynamic than the aforementioned 'Hypernova' of Triple Deluxe, and as a simple idea (put Kirby in a cool robot) it delivers exactly what one would expect; it's a hoot.
Even better are sections where the mech transforms into other vehicles that take you into entirely different stage types. Suffice to say there are levels where you fly and 'drive', and you can envisage the genres and game styles that are riffed upon. Stumbling across these areas is always a pleasure, especially as they often emerge with little deliberate build-up - quite unexpectedly the game shakes things up, and has prompted plenty of smiles from your humble writer.
Romping around in a mech is great fun, but it also seems HAL has been able to focus its attentions on level design, no doubt helped by having the game engine established with its last entry. Environments are varied and, as always, there are hidden objects - stickers are optional, but each stage also has three futuristic cubes to find, some of which are needed to unlock the boss stages at the end of each world. Beyond simply finding items there are some nice puzzles, too. Though they don't exactly have you scratching your head, there are some neat ideas that riff on technology and electricity. For example you may need the Spark ability to start a fuse, and then manipulate wires to power a battery which then reveals a secret. Making you pause to think over environmental puzzles is an effective way to add an alternative rhythm to play.
The main game, of which we've played through most of the worlds so far, is shaping up nicely. Yet there are also extras that provide brief but fun diversions. Kirby 3D Rumble contains a number of stages with an isometric view - your task is to dispose of enemies as efficiently and quickly as possible, with some tricky encounters and stage layouts thrown in. It's over quickly, but it's fun and will have some chasing the top rankings to improve their scores.
Team Kirby Clash can be played with local multiplayer or CPU comrades - it supports download play which we'll test for the review. This is a short number of boss encounters, with each Kirby having an assigned power type and role. The bosses are a lot of fun and a little different from main-game equivalents, and working within the team is vital in terms of healing each other, using a shield ability for protection and sharing boosts. The AI assist characters are smart when going solo, and a neat twist is that you can access a 'Power Stone', triggering a brief event and unleashing huge damage on the enemy. Again, it's a short extra, but it's enjoyable and will have plenty chasing the top ranks.
As a whole this title also demonstrates that the 3DS is still capable of attractive visuals, with the franchises' style suiting the portable perfectly. That said, a small number of stages do get a little choppy with 3D enabled (even on a New 3DS) but run smoothly in 2D. It's not every stage that has this problem. Beyond that we also want to give a nod to the soundtrack, which is upbeat and, in a word, fantastic. In addition a neat feature we've barely used (as the game isn't particularly difficult) is the option to scan amiibo to access abilities in game, which should be a big help for younger players in particular.
So far, then, Kirby: Planet Robobot has kept us very entertained. It's easy-going but has clever moments, while dripping with charm and good humour in every stage. Unlike Triple Deluxe it also feels like the level designers let out their playful, creative sides a little more - beyond the usual collectathon and general lack of lost lives, there are some delightful moments that raise an impromptu smile. It's those unexpected flashes, when fun becomes delight, that make this a game to watch closely.
Triple Deluxe is an awesome game and honestly can't wait.
Can't wait !
Looks cool.... I'll keep this on the radar for sure. This would have been cool on the Wii U- or why not have a dual release for this or more games?
My son and I can't wait to play this. A little over a month to go. Have this preordered and am waiting for the amiibo to be up in Canada for preorder. Missed out on the Smash ones.
3D Rumble is so short, it's only 3 levels. I bet they will make a 3D Rumble Deluxe.
Triple Deluxe was a delight and this looks to be even more so. I will definitely be picking this up.
I am super excited for this game! I hope it has a decent length and difficulty, there's too much opportunity to be had with this game for it to be a short one. I'm especially looking forward to using Kirby's Smash Bros. ability!
Got mine preordered too, anlong with the Waddle Dee and Meta Knight amiibos. very much looking forward to this!
Also, I wasn't aware that Triple Deluxe was underrated... I remember it getting generally good reviews, moreso than the typical mainline Kirby titles. I personally liked it just a bit better than RtDL, my only real complaint being the same one mentioned above, about Hypernova being pretty meh. Thankfully, Robobot looks to be fixing that one issue, so it's probably gonna be even more amazing. Here's hoping!
Can anyone give a reason as to why Nintendo hasn't produced this as a title on Wii U as well? It wouldn't hurt the 3DS much (if at all) and sales overall would surely be greater. Kirby games are perfect for HD and currently all we have is Rainbow Paintbrush, which is not my cup of tea.
I love the look of this and Triple Deluxe, but each time I look at them I just think 'If only HD...'
Edit: @rockodoodle got there first. But I agree whole-heartedly.
I loved Triple Deluxe enough to play it thrice, so I'm very excited for Robobot.
It looks nice and i have not played a kirby game in a long while so i may pick this up when it comes out.
Glad to hear this is a wonderful game; so excited for it! I liked Kirby Triple Deluxe, so I'll definitely pick this up. Besides the framerate, the visuals look absolutely stunning and top-notch for a 3DS!
Even if this isn't a promising game, I'll get it because its a platform game....something which the 3DS seriously lacks big time.
Nice. I missed out on Triple Deluxe, but I think I'll probably grab this one as soon as it releases.
Dr. Kirby for smash
@gcunit That Wii U owners were stuck with Rainbow Whatever (changes with region) and 3DS owners get this just annoys me. Both are better suited for the other system (touch heavy vs traditional).
Is Kirby's universe or "lore" suppose to match up and make sense ever? The whole series is crazy, like why is there suddenly mechs? No explanation lol Why do the other planets we've visited in other Kirby games never reappear or ever get a mention?
I'd say this, from the numerous amounts of footage I've seen, is going to be the best Kirby game yet. I too, like many people here, skipped Triple Deluxe - but I've decided to pre-order this just because of the premise alone.
I adore Triple Deluxe and it might even have a spot on my Top 10 3DS games so I cannot wait for this game to be released.
It doesn't really matter at all. The games are always fun, so I'm cool with whatever zany thing they want to introduce. Things don't always need an explanation.
@Vandy Well I'm not saying Kirby is bad, it's one of my favorites, but an explanation of some things would be cool. But if not, okay haha Just for curiosity sake I suppose.
I'd rather there not be an explanation and just leave Kirby as this mythological-type character who just happens to have a whole bunch of random adventures that don't necessarily have to make sense. It's how I used to look at Link from Legend of Zelda until they decided to painstakingly map out a chronology.
Like a parent telling a child a bedtime story every night. "Tell me another one about Kirby".
"Well, did you hear about the time Kirby found a magical paintbrush?"
@Vandy I do agree with the Kirby being mysterious part, I think they do that on purpose and it works really well. Changing it would probably ruin the charm and wonderment which is part of the fun. I doubt they'll change it.
I'm indifferent about Link, the games were already more in depth but I do remember having more wonderment when things weren't so tied together the way they are now.
Besides Kirby is probably aimed toward children even though everyone plays the games, making it too in depth would alienate kids who don't have the mind for that kind of stuff yet.
I think we're looking too deeply into something that is just intended for enjoyment. Not everything needs a heavy backstory, regardless of whether it's intended for children or not.
It's like the people who are complaining about how the shooting controls in Star Fox Zero work. Who cares? It's fun.
I don't care what the motivations for Super Mario to be in space are. They could have said "he woke up on the moon one day" and I'd shrug and say "whatever" because Mario Galaxy is amazing.
I only hope it is better than Triple Deluxe.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Triple Deluxe, even though most reviewers seem to feel it was "pretty good" at best. Seeing a game reviewer go on about how fantastic and delightful Robobot is makes me so happy and excited!
I just picked this game up in Japanese.
It is easily one of my most, if not my actual, favourite in the entire series and currently on level 4-1.
I've loved this series ever since I played Kirby's Adventure on the NES and it feels like it keeps improving with each 'main' entry.
Wasn't interested in this initially, but it's growing on me.
Also who else agrees that Kirby's mech needs to make a Smash Bros. appearance in the future? It would make a great final smash.
Wait, so scanning Amiibo is essentially only supposed to relieve the games difficulty? I thought it was to auto-keep a certain ability - because who likes losing their favorite ability then having to backtrack to a specific world for a specific enemy again?
" playing rather safe and struggling to go from being 'good' to 'great'."
I definitely felt this way about Triple Deluxe, that it just never took that last step into being an awesome game. It was definitely fun and worth the price though, and I'll be picking this one up when it comes out.
I'm looking forward to this, I think the mechs will add a fun element in a similar way to the Hypernova Kirby sections in Triple Deluxe. I never played any of the DS or Wii Kirby games (I've only played Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby's Adventure, Super Star, and recently Triple Deluxe) so maybe I'm not as 'burned-out' as some other fans of the series are. I just enjoyed Triple Deluxe and am glad this game offers more in the same vein.
I got this pre ordered, I wasn't expecting much of triple deluxe but I had some great fun with that game and fell in love with Kirby all over again
When the NX generation roles around, I'll be glad that games like this will release simultaneously on a console for comfortable shared large screen viewing and for a portable device. Wii U could use this game right now, alas, 3DS and Wii U are totally different platforms to the core. I chalk it up as hope for the future, though.
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