Title: Kirby: Planet Robobot
Available on: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Genre: Action Platforming
Official Site: kirby.nintendo.com
Release Date: June 10, 2016
Where to Buy: Retail, Nintendo eShop
I’ve always been sort of been undecided on the Kirby franchise. I like the character and find his copy abilities fun and varied, but the platforming has always been a bit slow for my liking. Imagine my surprise when I boot up Kirby: Planet Robobot only to find that it’s added enough new to add some fuel to what I thought was a dwindling flame.
Dreamland has been besieged by a massive, spherical spaceship; it descends on the massive glowing star that Kirby and friends call home, terraforming it in the process. The lush green grass is uprooted and replaced by metal sheets. The entire world is changed, retaining some of its former charms, but gaining a new mechanical sheen.
It certainly keeps things fresh as you leap and float through the game’s six worlds. Each one brings a new aesthetic that bucks the trends previously established by platforming games. The snow level is comprised almost entirely of platforms made of popsicles and ice cream, while the sand world feels like an industrial yard, complete with winding pipes and creaking metal structures.
This metallic coat expands to the enemies, too. You’ll still fight the same array of classic Kirby foes, but many of them have gone through slight changes and adjustments. Whispy Woods – the steadfast tree that blows gusts of wind Kirby’s way – is now Clanky Woods, a rickety mechanical tree that stalks Kirby on spider-like appendages. And the robot facelifts don’t stop there. The new aesthetic goes a long way in reinvigorating the happy-go-lucky art style.
Kirby moves at a decent clip through the levels. His jumps are floaty, giving players plenty of leeways to make difficult jumps. Tapping the jump button repeatedly puffs him up like a balloon, allowing him to soar over levels. It’s helpful for making a comeback if you miss a jump or get knocked into a pit, but being able to hover over entire levels still feels a little broken; taking away a lot of the challenge.
There are two levels to each stage: the foreground and the background. Certain objects let Kirby switch between the two to take down elusive enemies or solve simple puzzles. You’ll constantly be switching between the two planes, which expand the level geography and switches up the pace so you’re not just holding right.
Kirby’s full suite of abilities is on display in Planet Robobot. Holding down the B button makes Kirby violently inhale, sucking anything nearby into his gaping maw. Consuming enemies grant the pink puffball their abilities, and there are plenty to toy with. Classics like the sword still feel great to wield. There were certain powers that I actively avoided, but trying them out offered up an extra challenge as I learned how to use and master each power. Depending on which power you tear through each level with, your experience can change significantly, from speed to strategy.
The biggest change added to Kirby: Planet Robobot is the addition of the mech suit. At certain points in some stages, the pink puffball dons a hulking suit of mechanical armor. It completely changes how the game plays, allowing Kirby to tear through stages, decimating all enemies and obstacles in his path.
The mech suit also shares Kirby’s copy ability. Scanning and copying an enemy will change the suits coat of paint and transform the arms in cool and surprising ways. For example, absorbing a sword enemy gives Kirby two massive blades to slice and dice enemies with, while a fire enemy gives him two devastating flamethrowers that can light the stage ablaze. Piloting the mech makes the game even easier than it already is, but skidding through stages and effortlessly throwing enemies aside is incredibly fun.
Some levels center around certain mech abilities. Scanning a jet enemy will transform the suit into a chubby little jet, which changes the stages into side scrolling shoot ‘em ups. It happens infrequently enough to still remain fun and keep the pace fresh.
The main story of Kirby: Planet Robobot took me roughly seven hours to complete but completing it unlocks two supplementary modes: The Meta Knightmare Returns, and Arena. Both are time trials, testing your skills and speed.
The Meta Knightmare Returns has you running through the majority of the campaign as the fearsome Meta Knight. This means no abilities and no mech suit, only you and your trusty sword. This mode is quick and relatively easy, but zipping through stages cutting down enemies is a refreshing change of pace. There are four special moves relegated to the touch screen, which can be used to recover health, increase movement speed, or simply destroy anything on-screen.
His wings carry him much faster than Kirby’s floating ever could, making each level fly by. There are even several new bosses to take on and challenges to face. All in all, it adds more variety to what is an already fun package.
Arena is simply a boss rush mode. You play as Kirby, choose what ability you want to wield and take on the game’s most fearsome foes, one after another. It doesn’t offer as much as the game’s other main modes, but it’s a nice diversion after finishing up everything else.
There are also two small mini-games: Kirby 3D Rumble, and Team Kirby Clash. The first is a top-down 3D version of Kirby set on small stages, while the second is like a co-op boss rush mode. Neither adds much value to the overall package other than offering up something else to do if the other modes grow tiresome.
I tried out the new Kirby Amiibo to see what it added to the experience, but each figure just unlocks a new, special ability. If you aren’t interested in collecting the figures themselves than it isn’t worth buying simply to get a new, throwaway ability.
I had a lot of fun with Kirby: Planet Robobot. The simplicity, ease and slow pace of the gameplay wore on me as I reached the end of my time with the game, but it offered up fun and solid mechanics that add to the time-tested Kirby formula. Don’t go into this game expecting the challenge you get out of a Mario or Donkey Kong title, but it’s a fun romp regardless.
Gameplay: Fun but floaty platforming and easy action.
Graphics: Colorful and vibrant, show off the world and gameplay well.
Sound: Great music and enemy sound design.
Presentation: All comes together well to form a fun, cohesive package.
- Nice visuals
- Fun abilities
- Solid Platforming
- Fun bosses
- Very floaty control
- very easy
- gets repetitive
Steadfast Nintendo fan who loves to expand his knowledge of the gaming industry. Follow him on Twitter to hear his musings on games and life in general.