Nintendo is commonly accused of milking their franchises by recycling their games. Whether it’s a new Mario platformer, another Legend of Zelda title or the latest in the line of Mario sports titles, the comments come out pretty quickly on how they’ve simply brought out the old formula and put some slight tweak on it (I disagree for the most part, but I don’t think this is entirely out of thin air).
There is one particular franchise does not quite draw the same ire, if I’ve observed correctly, as it is often used as a hotbed for more unique and quirky ideas between releases, and so when said franchise decides to do that very act of taking the old formula and applying some tweaks, words like ‘stale’ don’t quite come to mind. This is where Kirby Triple Deluxe for the Nintendo 3DS comes in.
As you can imagine, Kirby Triple Deluxe has a fairly simple plot (although the finer details in these plots are surprisingly inventive considering Nintendo’s more popular franchises) – a giant beanstalk (or ‘Dreamstalk’) has grown under parts of Dream Land, including Kirby’s house and King Dedede’s castle, and put them in a land called Floralia. Dedede is promptly kidnapped, and the game starts with Kirby giving chase.
This starts off a game which follows, basically, the standard Kirby formula with some tweaks added. The last Kirby game this reviewer played was Kirby’s Epic Yarn, back in 2011, which was certainly not the standard Kirby formula with some tweaks. So unless you’ve been keeping up religiously with the Kirby franchise, or just have been playing these games recently, this shouldn’t feel as tired and worn as some think of other franchises.
One thing you’ll notice is the graphics look quite nice – it flows smoothly at a good frame rate, and all the colours and lighting effects, as well as the objects on the side of the terrain, fit nicely with the upbeat, charming nature of the game. While there are some gimmicky animations – like Kirby or certain enemies getting smacked into the screen – this game puts the 3D capabilities of the console to good use. with certain parts of each level consisting of a foreground and background layer, with means to move back and forth between them, and also attacking and defending from one side to the other. It was almost enough to get me to switch 3D back on! (Perhaps this game would’ve been a great launch title for the 3DS, instead of 3D versions of games that played better and had more support on other consoles).
The level design is also quite good, changing themes at a decent rate. For instance, I spent too long on a particular level in a factory-like setting (and I was quite tired anyway) and was starting to feel a bit bored. The next level of the game was in a circus, using mirrors in the foreground to reveal certain enemies and items, and basically, the about turn in the design woke me up! The levels are also mixed up with regular minibosses, albeit with similar attack patterns that are only freshened up if you decide to use Kirby’s current ability instead of the standard pick-up-this-star-and-fire-it-at-the-enemy strategy. This point could be made about the end-of-world bosses I fought too, although I still liked these battles, and particularly enjoyed the second boss, a nod to Kirby’s Power Paintbrush (AKA Kirby Canvas Curse) on the DS (my favourite Kirby game).
Kirby games are usually quite easy, and from what I’ve played in the game so far, I’m not expecting this to change. However, as with Kirby’s Epic Yarn, the games has extra parts to it to add optional challenge – in particular, the Sun Stones littered throughout the levels. Some of these are in plain sight, while others need a bit more exploring to access, and some are hidden away in puzzle rooms – marked with a red star on the door – which are not always immediately obvious to solve and can provide a decent challenge. You need a certain number of Sun Stones in each world to unlock the boss level, and if you collect all the Sun Stones in the standard levels in a world, you unlock an additional level providing a stronger test of skill (although the ones I played were still quite easy – this might change going further into the game).
Speaking of the puzzle rooms, these often require the tilt functionality on the 3DS – an object will be in the room, and you would need to tilt in a certain direction to use it appropriately – e.g. a water bowl needing tilt to put out a fire. These are simple enough – a decent use of tilt – and are used sparingly, so they don’t get tired (another reason why this game would’ve made a great launch title).
Kirby’s old abilities make a return, such as Sword, Beam, Cutter and Spark, while he has a few new ones too, such as Bell, Archer and Circus. While I remembered each one normally giving Kirby one attack in these games, in this one, most of them bring Kirby a decent, mostly unique move set, accessed using the same kind of button combinations used in Smash Bros – i.e. press B for one attack, press a direction & B for an attack to the side etc. One particularly nice touch is Kirby’s sword firing off a beam if Kirby has full health, pretty much completing the Zelda image they started when they first gave Kirby that green hat. However, I say ‘mostly unique’, because a lot of the abilities have effectively the same directional attack of charging into the enemy with whatever Kirby has on him at that time, as well as the same attack of shooting a charged projectile. I can’t complain too much because Kirby still has a variety of movement, but certain abilities feel stripped of purpose (like the Ninja ability, which just felt like a Sword knock-off when I was using it).
A particular highlight in Kirby’s new abilities is Hypernova, which boosts Kirby’s inhaling ability and lets him inhale bigger objects like trees and giant missiles. Think of it as Kirby’s Mega Mushroom, although while this could’ve just been a fun mindless diversion at the end of a level, it’s also put to use with some simple puzzles, with Kirby sucking in some larger enemies and blocks to move them out the way so Kirby can continue. Some of these sections have Kirby suck away a background to reveal a level underneath – I interpreted this as a nod to Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and it was quite interesting to see the standard Kirby formula take in bits from one of Kirby’s more experimental titles.
As well as the Story mode, there are also two other modes available at the start of the game – ‘Kirby Fighters’ and ‘Dedede’s Drum Dash’. Kirby Fighters is a Smash-Bros-like (Stamina Mode) beat-em-up (you can tell the same dev team works on Smash Bros!), where you choose an ability and fight it out with up to three other Kirbies, using powerups and environmental hazards that appear to your advantage to defeat the other players.
This comes in three modes – Single Player, Multiplayer and Training. Training lets you fight a single match with three other Kirbies, and Multiplayer supports up to four players (I wasn’t able to try this mode). Single Player is an Arcade Mode of sorts, consisting of six rounds against other Kirbies with different abilities, initially against a single Kirby and later on against up to four. I played this on the Hard difficulty setting and was surprised to find that it actually was hard (although the difficulty dropped in the final round).
It’s an enjoyable minigame – I imagine with three other players, this could provide a decent alternative to Smash Bros while we wait for that to come out. Dedede’s Drum Dash is a rhythm platformer, where you play as King Dedede and bounce on drums to well-known Kirby themes, including Green Greens, Gourmet Race and Dedede’s theme. Dedede bounces on his own, and you move him while in mid-air to go between drums, collecting coins, avoiding enemies and pressing A on landing to bounce higher.
Unfortunately, the numbers of levels are small, so this minigame is short-lived. But it’s fun while it lasts, and the end-of-level medals, attained through getting a good score and boosting this by satisfying certain often-challenging conditions in the levels (e.g. get all coins, bounce perfectly between drums) add a little bit of replayability to complete a better run through.
There are certain other bits worth a brief mention, such as the collectible keychains in the levels – which are random on collection, can also be bought with Play Coins and add replayability for those determined enough to collect them all – and StreetPass assist items, which get given to you at certain parts in the levels (although I wasn’t able to fully explore this feature, on account of the game not being out yet).
All in all, it’s a fairly standard Kirby game. Charming, plays nicely and provides for decent entertainment. If easy games bore you, this will too – it’s certainly not for the Dark Souls crowd. Otherwise, if you haven’t played many Kirby games, or just haven’t played one in a while, I recommend it. If you don’t have a Nintendo 3DS and are thinking of getting one, I’d definitely recommend it. And if you are thinking of getting a Nintendo 3DS for a friend, get this with it and lie to them and tell them this was a launch game.