The very first game to feature HAL Laboratory’s fluffy pink vacuum, the Gameboy-bound Kirby’s Dream Land was too simple. Its NES follow up, the game that introduced Kirby’s copy abilities came too late in the system’s lifecycle; many had already moved on to 16 bit gaming. Kirby doesn’t quite have the star power, the draw that Other Nintendo characters like Mario possess, which is rather unfortunate as he’s a rather versatile fellow.
He’s since appeared in a number of other games, of varying genres – he’s been in puzzle games, mini game collections, and even appeared as a giant ball of yarn. I’ve always favoured his platformer outings, which his latest game, Kirby Triple Deluxe on the stays true to Kirby’s platforming roots. If you’ve played any of the previous Kirby games – especially Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, you know exactly what to expect.
Instead of King Dedede being Kirby’s foil, we see Kirby rescuing him. The foe this time is a floating six-armed caterpillar that created a magical beanstalk grow up through Dreamland, carrying Kirby’s house, Dedede’s castle and other worlds up in the sky. Naturally, it’s up to Kirby to climb the beanstalk, rescue Dedede and dispense of the misguided caterpillar with furious, swift pink justice.
Don’t let his marshmallow appearance fool you; though the Kirby games have always been aimed at children, Kirby is a badass – as any Super Smash Bros player will tell you. His ability to suck up his enemies and copy their abilities make him a versatile, perpetually entertaining protagonist.
Swallow and enemy who spits fire and Kirby will be imbued with incendiary powers of his own. Most of the abilities from previous games return; sword, beam, cutter, rock et al, along with some new ones, including an instant favourite; the beetle ability. This gives Kirby a great big beetle horn he can use to rush forward and skewer enemies with, casting them off of his shish-kebab at will. It adds regular spice and variety to the gameplay, as you’re constantly chopping and changing your suite of abilities.
Many abilities are intrinsically linked to your progression; you’ll need to have fire abilities to light the fuse on the cannon that might propel you to the next bit of the level. In each level, you’ll have to collect between 1 and six sunstones to unlock more levels. They’re generally hidden, requiring a bit of thought, having the right ability or having excellent timing to find. As with the whole game though, they’re not exceptionally hard to find – but Kirby games have always been about saccharine charm rather than punishing difficulty. Littered throughout levels you’ll also find collectibles; key rings with characters from previous Kirby games. they don’t do anything, but they fun to find anyway.
A few levels contain mechanics that have you using the 3DS’s gyroscope for controls; tilting a bowl of water so that plants can grow, or moving s block with fuses so that they can catch fire in time, but they’re superfluous, adding nothing of worth.
Perhaps the most interesting addition is the Hypernova, which takes the fluffy pink ball’s inhaling ability and amplifies it, Spinal Tap style, all the way to eleven. When Kirby encounters and digests a magical fruit, he glows brightly and gains the ability to suck up just about everything in his path; trains, planes and automobiles included. It’s also used for a number of the game’s puzzles; you’ll find yourself, for example, pulling along a giant bit of masonry with your inward breath, so that you can use it to depress a switch on the floor. You might use it to pull along a giant snowman’s head, avoiding the bursts of flame that would leave his head an unfortunate puddle of water.
Kirby Triple Deluxe features the most impressive stereoscopic 3D effects in a game yet. Sumptuous presentation, couple with clever depth of field makes 3D almost necessary in Triple Deluxe. Like with Donkey Kong Country, the game is played out on two planes. Certain stars on the level will propel Kirby to do his platforming in the background, with a later transporter bringing him to the foreground. The 3D goes beyond being cosmetic, to genuinely useful; one section features a strip of spikes, that without the 3D looks like they’re on the same plane – but sliding the 3D to on reveals that they’re not, making it traversable.
The game, as is usual for Kirby games is perhaps a little too easy, without much challenge at all right up until the game’s final boss; a battle that seems to go on for entirely too long. Completing the game allows you to replay the game as the hammer-wielding King Dedede in timed missions.
Adding to the value is a mode called Kirby Fighters, a 4 player fighter that’s very much like a “lite” version of Super Smash Bros that allows you to master the pink fluffball’s copy abilities and all of his attacks.It allows 4 players to play off of one copy using download play but doesn’t, unfortunately have an online mode. Another included mini game is a rhythm game featuring Dedede, called Dedede’s Drum Dash. It has you tapping in time, moving along on drums to collect coins. It’s not quite as engaging as Kirby Fighters, but it’s a fun distraction nonetheless.