Nintendo's Kirby: Planet Robobot introduces the pink protagonist to a brand new platforming mechanic in the form of a giant mech suit, and the end result is rather refreshing.
Some may feel as if the side-scrolling platformer has been done to death at this point. Indeed, it's somewhat of a major reoccurring genre, but that hasn't deterred Nintendo from offering up several different franchises that cater to this crowd. The latest just happens to be Kirby: Planet Robobot for the Nintendo 3DS, and while it is another platformer, it justifies its existence with fleshed out levels and an engaging new mechanized mechanic.
Those already familiar with the Kirby franchise will feel right at home inflating like a balloon to traverse the environment and inhaling baddies as they emerge. True to the pink blob's background, the protagonist is able to absorb the abilities of certain enemies that he consumes, and each power-up that follows provides a unique way for dispatching additional foes that happen to cross Kirby's path. While this has been the series' tried and true formula for quite some time, the addition of a robotic suit in Planet Robobot passes along the infamous copy ability to the mech-like mountable – doubling the power-ups available to players in the process.
While the addition of this new ability may seem like a gimmick at first, it's implemented so well into the layout of each world that it feels more like an extension of the character than an intentional selling point. The mech itself is scattered about a number of levels, and its arrival always indicates the inevitable offering of a handful of scenarios. Whether that be moving heavy objects, battling an enemy, or transforming into a jet, there's a method to developer HAL Laboratory's madness. Admittedly, this may become a little tiresome and expected if it weren't for the brilliant and unique level design that pops up with every new world.
Comprised of six core worlds, gamers will get their expected dose of water, desert, and forest areas, but the 3D capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS play into the environments as well. Much like its predecessor, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, there are often two fields in which users can jump back and forth to. This is immediately apparent because of the three-dimensional capabilities of the handheld itself, but also because of the moving parts that are featured in both the foreground and the background of various levels. Enemies will jump back and forth between plains, rolling logs will change their path based on the layout of the background, and collectibles will give away their existence as players march ever onward towards the golden end gate.
All of this makes for some ingenious game design that was first pioneered in the aforementioned Triple Deluxe. While influenced heavily by what had been previously accomplished with the franchise, it does manage to create a more immersive series of worlds – thanks to the sheer amount of detail that's been placed in every single area. Add in the fun-filled mechanics that accompany the form-changing mech, and the planet of Dream Land has never felt so alive.
Indeed, while Kirby: Planet Robobot lasts, it's an engaging affair. The only downside to this is that the game itself doesn't take all that long to complete, and the fact that it's so easy will make it a breeze for experienced gamers to tear through rather quickly. This could be seen as the biggest fault of the core campaign, but Nintendo has added several different modes that extend the title well beyond its initial playthrough.
After wrapping up the story mode, there are a pair of mini-games that users can jump into. Kirby 3D Rumble, for example, allows players to trek around a petite 3D environment in a bid to dispatch baddies as quickly and efficiently as possible before receiving a score. Then there's Team Kirby Clash which allows up to four players to take on a boss monster, with each user having the ability to take on a certain class-types (warrior, healer, etc.). Both of these are short-lived, but they do make for some added fun.
More important than both of those tacked-on modes, however, is Meta Knightmare Returns, which opens up after the Kirby-centric story has come to a close. In this mode, players take on the role of Meta Knight – Kirby's favorite frenemy. Suiting up as the caped sword-wielder, the campaign itself can be replayed at a much higher difficulty, with a handful of new bosses to boot. Alongside another mode called The Arena, which allows Kirby aficionados to tear apart all of the main game's bosses in one go, both of these additional options give fans a lot more content to explore.
Kirby: Planet Robobot is one of the most engaging Kirby titles in recent memory, but the game simply doesn't have staying power because it can be wrapped up so quickly. With that said, it's a standout title for the Nintendo 3DS that makes full use of the technology it finds itself on, and longstanding followers of the gluttonous pink puffball will thoroughly enjoy much of what HAL Laboratory and Nintendo have created here. Planet Robobot is a fleeting experience, but it's certainly a memorable one.
Kirby: Planet Robobot is available now for the Nintendo 3DS.