Developer: HAL Laboratory
It’s been a while since I’ve played a Kirby title, having missed out on the Wii entries from last-gen. I’ve always looked at the Kirby series as a solid adventure/platformer series out of Nintendo, but one that rarely exudes the charm or polish of their high profile franchises. But Kirby Triple Deluxe has become one of my favorite 3DS releases in recent months, and quite possibly the best Kirby title I’ve seen since Kirby Super Star on the Super Nintendo.
The premise of Kirby Triple Deluxe is simple enough. King Dedede has been kidnapped, Kirby gives chase, and you’ll advance through a series of eclectic worlds spread across an overworld map called “The Dreamstalk”. As the name implies, it resembles a giant beanstalk that’s sprouted in Dream Land and makes its way into the heavens above. The six worlds featured are well designed, with a heavy emphasis on background and foreground elements that allow the 3D feature of the system to really shine.
Kirby Triple Deluxe’s action takes place on a 2D plane, with 3D models. But unlike the disappointing style of Yoshi’s New Island, Kirby Triple Deluxe really shines here thanks to fantastic animations, renders, and the varied enemies/bosses you encounter. Kirby retains his trademark ability to suck in enemies and adopt their unique powers. There’s a host of returning abilities from previous titles, along with a handful of new powers. Each ability is fleshed out, with a series of movesets that make each power feel very unique.
At various points, Kirby will consume a glowing fruit that puts him into “Supernova” mode. This amplifies Kirby’s ability to consume enemies, and often allows him to devour entire portions of stages, or manipulate large objects for bonuses or puzzles. Each stage also contains a number of hidden items, like the keychains you can collect throughout. Most worlds consist of five or six stages, with a memorable boss encounter to top off each world. There’s also a number of mini-bosses scattered through the worlds, and surprisingly you’ll find some actual challenge here. This isn’t nearly as difficult as the Donkey Kong Country Returns series, but it was certainly tougher than most Kirby titles I’ve played.
Controls feel great here, with the ability to use either the D-Pad or Slide Pad for movement. I found the Slide Pad to be a little touchy when it came to double taps for running, which would occasionally have me executing a dash attack when I didn’t intend to, but switching to the D-Pad fixed that. Pause and Drop Ability are mapped to the bottom touchscreen, which is the limit of touch controls featured. There are some gyroscope movements as well, but they are few and far between, and not frustrating or embarrassing to execute..
The thing that really stands out to me as fantastic with Kirby Triple Deluxe is how well the game utilizes the 3D feature. This is definitely a title that benefits greatly from the slider, with a ton of interaction between the foreground and background elements. Enemies will spawn in from the background and move to the foreground often, and obstacles or other dangers will do the same. Kirby will actually move between both areas as well, and most boss encounters make use of both planes. For those that have trouble seeing or using the 3D feature, it’s still certainly playable, but you’re definitely going to miss out on a significant function of the gameplay that is certainly unique to the platform.
I also thought that the level design was absolutely fantastic throughout. You’ll see your typical element based stages, with snow, jungles, lava and so on. But there’s a lot of variety not only between the six worlds, but the individual stages within them. Kirby has a lot more to do than just suck in enemies and spit them back out. You’ll solve small puzzles throughout, hunt down hidden items, trigger switches, manipulate larger objects with the Supernova ability, don a cannon on your head and blast away at enemies in the background, and so on. There’s a lot of mechanics packed into most stages that go beyond simple action and platforming mechanics, making a number of stages feel pretty memorable.
Outside of the core adventure, there’s a few other modes featured too. There’s the rhythm based Dedede’s Drum Dash, which features King Dedede as he hops on drums, pressing jump in time with the beat of a song. Hitting jump at the right time will launch King Dedede further into the air, allowing him to collect coins as he advances to the end of each stage. Collecting coins, timing your jump presses properly, and finishing a stage early can all contribute to a higher score. There are leaderboards featured, but they’re only used for Streetpass and not online.
Another mode is Kirby Fighters, which feels very Smash Bros. like in execution. You can compete against other players locally, and download play is supported, so you can bring in friends that don’t have a copy of the game. It’s a lightweight, silly mode, that features some of the powers found in the main game. There’s not a huge amount of depth to uncover with it, but as an additional side activity, I found it to be a fun time waster with friends.
Also worth noting is an unlockable mode that you gain access to after you’ve finished the story. I won’t spoil what that mode is here, but it’s certainly worth unlocking. All in all, these additional modes in conjunction with the primary story mode put a lot of value into this one little cartridge.
It’s certainly forgivable if Kirby Triple Deluxe isn’t a release that’s been on your radar, but I’d urge you to rectify that now. This is one of the best 3DS releases this year, and certainly not a title I’d urge any Nintendo, or old-school action/adventure fan to miss. Kirby Triple Deluxe really packs a lot of fun into its pint-sized package, and I suspect a lot of people will be surprised by how great this game really is. I wholeheartedly recommend it, whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not.