Returning with a mechanical repair job, Kirby floats back for a new 3DS adventure in Planet Robobot. Bringing together superbly designed levels, lavish aesthetics and zany boss fights, the pink puffball’s robotic world shines like its steely exterior.
After the events of Kirby: Triple Deluxe on Nintendo’s handheld, HAL Laboratory are back to appease fans’ wishes with a new outing for the pink puffball. While Kirby sleeps peacefully under his favourite tree, planet Pop Star is taken by the motorized space ship Access Ark and is plunged into a gritty yet garish steampunk world full of gears and gizmos sent to thwart the inhabitants of the tranquil planet. Where Meta Knight and King Dedede fail in their attacks to protect their world, Kirby takes up his usual stoic role to defeat and conquer the ship by travelling to six uniquely themed areas, meeting many of the franchise’s well known enemies and a rather curious robot named Susie along the way.
As an action platformer, Kirby: Planet Robobot features three distinct modes and two mini games. While the main adventure takes place in story mode, players will also have access to Team Kirby Clash and Kirby 3D Rumble, as well as two other modes unlocked after story mode’s completion. With six new areas on offer in story mode, including the standard grasslands and ocean levels to the more sumptuous and technological districts in Gigabyte Grounds and Rhythm Route, there’s a real sense of variety and truly ingenious level design at play here that makes it insanely fun. Gone are the repetitive end levels and bosses seen in Triple Deluxe, whisked away by the HAL team, as they are replaced with areas that feel original, interesting and satisfying.
From rolling around as a yo-yo with Kirby’s copy ability to seeing huge tortoises, frozen ice cream snowman, and whipped cream cones of delicious design in the background, Planet Robobot throws you into moments of sheer joy and madness it can be hard to put down. And as both the foreground and background are used exceedingly well, there are many moments where you’ll have to zip between the two planes of existence in a racing car, or careen through levels in your mechanical jet through the help of Kirby’s robotic skin, after scanning a particular enemy’s abilities. While it is ludicrously easy, it’s also strangely satisfying to smash through dozens of bricks, stones and enemies in a hulking mass of metal. In fact, it’s this seamless fusion between new and old that makes it feel just like classic Kirby.
Progressing through the five to seven levels unlocked in each area of story mode will grant players the chance to collect code cubes hidden in rooms chock full of puzzles. While you’ll need a select amount of cubes to gain access to the boss area, collecting all of them will enable you to play through an additional stage. And of course, in true Kirby style, there are also other collectibles on offer too, namely in the form of stickers; 199 to be exact. And though they serve no real purpose other than to beautify Kirby’s robotic skin, discovering them is quite enjoyable.
Other than the addition of a new robotic suit for Kirby, there are three new copy abilities to be tried and tested by fans of the puffball. You can now inhale Doctor, Poison and ESP to strike down those enemies by way of pills, liquid goo or by using the power of Professor X. Personally I prefer the latter, but perhaps that’s just the mind control speaking. Of course, over 25 other copy abilities return, so fans can get acquainted once again with Archer, Sword, Cutter, Circus or the Beam to name but a few.
Those who own a New Nintendo 3DS can inhale various copy abilities from all compatible amiibo currently on offer in stores. Placing Link, Toon Link or Zelda on the lower touch screen, for example, will let Kirby inhale the Sword, Cutter or Magician’s abilities, while the Pink Woolly Yoshi will lick up a storm with the whip ability. With the new Kirby series of amiibo available when the game releases, players will be able to use the blue-based characters to inhale a unique look and copy ability too. And since there’s such a wide selection of choice, boredom is certainly not on the cards.
Although Kirby games have never been known for their challenge, Planet Robobot’s end boss stages are far from a walk in the park. These intensely pleasing end levels are visually stunning and provide some much needed meat on the bones of the sliding difficulty scale. However, story mode can be completed in 8 to 10 hours, collectible cubes included, making it a slightly shorter game than fans may have expected.
Aside from story mode, two mini games are also included. Kirby 3D Rumble stars three different stages, where defeating enemies by using Kirby’s inhale abiity to rack up combo scores is the key to success. Yet it’s a bland and unnecessary mode, with no real quirks to keep those playing enthralled, and can be completed in mere minutes.
On the other hand, Team Kirby Clash is the only multiplayer mode in Planet Robobot, though can be played in single player or via download play too. Here, Kirby fans can choose from four characters; Sword, Healer, Magician or Hammer. Each player can then level up their character in this classic RPG mode and set out on quests to take down level bosses. Featuring six quests and a real corker of an end boss, Team Kirby Clash is a mini game that adds wonderfully to the overall experience. Though it won’t be a mode players will go back to after scoring platinum on each quest, it’s fun while it lasts.
After completing story mode, two additional modes will unlock. For those who want a clean, unspoiled experience, skip to the end paragraph. These two modes will grant players access to a boss rush mode and Meta Knightmare Returns; the former taking you through 11 of the games’ mid to large bosses, with the final two reflective of the gargantuan end battles. But it’s playing through Meta Knightmare Returns that pops a new twist on an old surface. Playing as Meta Knight, you’ll have to breeze through all of the area’s levels in one fell swoop against the clock, collecting shiny M’s and bubbles for your energy gauge along the way to release special attacks. Not only is it an addictive mode, it breathes new energy into the title, giving 3DS users an extra reason to play when story mode ends.
With its exceptional level design, wonderfully composed music and some incredible boss fights and additional modes, Kirby: Planet Robobot is – quite simply – a must-have for your 3DS. Though it does suffer from a short storyline and an undesirable mini game, these are minor nitpicks at best. Let’s just say, it’s a real steal.