Kirby: Planet Robobot is the fourteenth entry in the Kirby franchise and the newest outing on the Nintendo 3DS for the pink eating machine. HAL Labs have once again taken Kirby in a new direction, this time with the addition of mechanical battlesuits which players can use to help Kirby overcome the invading forces who have set their sights on Planet Popstar.
The main game is broken into two distinct game modes. As with all Kirby games, you have the story mode, where players play through the main campaign which is broken into a number of worlds and levels. The main objective of which is to collect data blocks which in turn unlock levels. This does sometimes mean repeating levels to get extra blocks which I sometimes found to be monotonous due to some blocks being trickier to find than others.
The newest addition to Planet Robobot is the ability to don mechanised armour in order to take down enemies as well finding new ways to advance through the levels. While piloting the armour, Kirby can move scenery to access new areas and deal more damage to his enemies. By scanning his enemies Kirby can also copy their abilities. For example, scanning an enemy with the “jet” will engage jet mode, allowing Kirby to fly across the screen, while the “wheel” scan will turn Kirby into a car that can race between the foreground and background.
As well as data blocks, a number of stickers can be collected throughout each level which can then be viewed in a gallery; as well satisfying many players’ urge to collect meaningless in-game items, they can also be used to decorate the arms of your Robobot armour. At any given time you are only able to use one sticker per arm. There are over 200 different stickers to collect which, if you’re selective like me, choosing just one can be a daunting task.
The enemies in the game make clever use of the 3D effect by changing tactics and shifting landscapes to attack you from virtually any angle. While traversing the landscape in the foreground, for example, enemies in the background can and will attack Kirby without warning by firing projectiles. In later levels, Kirby is able to transition between foreground and background freely whilst using the ‘Car’ armour.
In true Kirby fashion, you also have a boss at the end of each world to conquer before you move on. Boss battles, like in many other Kirby titles, play a predominant part of Planet Robobot. Using his skills acquired through the level, Kirby must overcome these in order to proceed. The bosses are varied and do tend to match the world’s overarching theme, however, I did find they tended to be a little repetitive. I found that once I had figured out their patterns, defeating them was quite simple.
Kirby games have always had a unique charm and character to them. Kirby and co can be easily identified and the new additions to the universe fit the design. Although a completely new feature, the Robobot armour feels like it has been there since day one. The level design is bright and colourful with well throughout areas to add a challenge to the game, although I did find them to be somewhat repetitive in nature as I progressed through each stage.
Overall, Kirby: Planet Robobot is an enjoyable adventure laced with bright colours and characters. The gameplay can be somewhat repetitive though if you can overcome this it’s a solid platformer. The addition of the Mech suits is a welcome change to the Kirby formula but I felt it was underutilised. If you’re a fan of the Kirby series you’ll want to give Planet Robobot a try.