It’s been just over a year since the release of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse on Wii U and Nintendo’s lovable pink puff is back at it again in Kirby: Planet Robobot, and fans will be pleased to know that he is on top form.
The game opens with Planet Popstar being invaded and overran by a group of robotic enemies. Kirby decides to set out to thwart the invaders, resorting to using robot powers to keep his beloved home from succumbing to mechanized doom. Anyone who has played Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards or Kirby: Triple Deluxe will recognize the aesthetic right away; the usual Copy Abilities are reintroduced, the enemies are mostly familiar and the game plays much like The Crystal Shards in terms of side-scrolling 3D goodness. Returning Copy Abilities such as Jet, Mirror and Smash are now accompanied by three new powers: Doctor, Poison and ESP. Kirby’s Smash ability has been updated to reflect his moves from Super Smash Bros. — his hammer can be charged and shielding creates a bubble barrier. What is clever about Planet Robobot is that it draws on these familiar classic tropes and blends in the whole mecha theme almost seamlessly. The Copy Abilities have always been fun, but with the addition of the Robobot Armor you can scan enemies and take on their power while donned in your flashy mecha gear.
In total, there are thirteen armor modes — Beam, Cutter, Spark are just a few that you will encounter. Working out how to use these effectively takes some playing around, but is ultimately really fun. Some levels require use of the armor more than others, and it feels really good when you complete a challenge by effectively combining abilities and modes. With the introduction of the Robobot element, Nintendo has cleverly built on what made Kirby so great without removing its identity altogether, and it makes for a fantastic and refreshing gaming experience.
But there are other things to do in the main game besides battling baddies with your fancy armor, such as collecting items. Collectables in the game include Code Cubes and stickers. Code Cubes, similar to Mario Stars, allow you to unlock certain parts of the map after collecting a certain amount. Stickers on the other hand are collected mostly through bonus rounds. The stickers, categorized as “Common” and “Rare,” can be used to pimp out your Robobot Armor or added to your sticker collection. Completionists will not consider the game complete without obtaining all these collectables, but the more casual players will be happy to just play along through the main course.
There are also two mini-games upon starting: Team Kirby Clash and Kirby 3D Rumble. Team Kirby Clash, intended for a quick and simple challenge, takes influence from RPG games and allows you to complete quests alongside others via Download Play or with NPC characters by choosing a “path” for Kirby — Doctor Healmore, Sword Hero, Beam Mage or Hammer Lord. In Kirby 3D Rumble, you race against the clock to defeat as many enemies as possible for a high score. Later on, two more min-games called Meta Knightmare Returns and The Arena can be unlocked. Meta Knightmare Returns lets you race through the entire game as Meta Knight himself, gaining points along the way to unleash special attacks. The Arena pits you against bosses one after the other. Here, you visit bosses behind one door at a time, gaining health items and changing abilities between each match. This is a good way to eliminate that dreaded “boss fear” and it acts much like a fighting game — a good place to unleash any frustration.
Kirby: Planet Robobot also looks and feels fantastic. It’s vivid, responsive and runs smoothly on the 3DS. The controls are utilized well, with the touch screen being used to display information such as your collectables, health items and lives. The touch screen is also where the amiibo feature is used. By tapping an amiibo, Kirby will “inhale” the character and copy their powers — a nice little touch that adds more replayability. For example, scanning a Mario amiibo will give Kirby the ability to use fire. Scan the Ness amiibo and Kirby will gain the ESP ability, allowing him to use psychic powers. Making use of each amiibo’s functionality will save time from having to seek out enemy Copy Abilities.
The best thing about Kirby: Planet Robobot is its fun factor. The gameplay does not get repetitive and the music is infectious and chirpy. If nothing else, it is such a mood booster to pick up at the end of the day and see the little pink blob striding around Planet Popstar in a robot suit. In fact, I dare you to not smile! The main story will take between 6-8 hours to complete, but with all additional modes, this can increase greatly.
With such a wide variety of gameplay, well-rounded use of features and beautiful graphics, Kirby: Planet Robobot shines as a superb addition to not only the Kirby series, but the Nintendo 3DS library. The use of mechanical modes allows for a refreshing change without deviating from the winning Kirby charm from past games. Mini-games and amiibo offer the player a more in-depth experience, permitting more room for replayability once the main story is complete. Planet Robobot will please both seasoned Nintendo fans and newcomers alike, and I highly recommended it for anyone looking for an entertaining gaming experience.