The loveable pink floating blob, Kirby, may often play second fiddle to his more recognizable Nintendo pals like Yoshi and the Mario Bros., but he makes a decent splash in his first 3DS outing, Kirby Triple Deluxe. Kirby’s playful new adventure through a series of airborne islands even floats past Yoshi’s New Island as the most enjoyable 2D side-scrolling 3DS game released this year, even though the mechanics are mostly confined within Kirby’s comfort zone.
Triple Deluxerefers to three distinct gameplay modes for Kirby to do his thing in. There’s Story Mode, the top destination in every previous Kirby game that rings true once again. Dedede’s Drum Dash and Kirby Fighters are self-contained games in their own right, though maybe more along the lines of an inexpensive downloadable title than a full-fledged cartridge release.
As the Story Mode opens, Kirby awakes to discover his home forced high into the sky by powerful vines. While attempting to consult with King Dedede in his castle regarding the strange occurrence, Kirby watches the villain, Taranza, kidnap the penguin king and whisk him off to the floating islands of Floralia. Being the courageous pink thing he is, Kirby brushes aside impending danger and heads off to rescue his chilly friend.
Kirby side-scrolling adventures have been around for over 20 years and Triple Deluxe’s Story Mode does little to interfere with a tried-and-tested good thing. All of Kirby’s signature moves are present including floating, jumping, 3DS-tilting to move objects, and like his buddy Yoshi, inhaling enemies and other objects. There are a couple new moves sprinkled in and new enemy powers to accumulate by inhaling them to go along with carryovers from previous games, but by and large, Kirby spends most of his time bouncing around from one level to the next like he always has, and most likely always will.
The signature new move is the Hypernova ability achieved by eating a specific type of fruit. Once eaten, Kirby is able to ingest massive objects and then lay waste to huge portions of a level in a swift stroke of awesome. Unfortunately the levels are designed so that the fruit and Hypernova are sparsely presented at the most opportune and scripted times that require taking advantage of it to advance, rather than organic placements that would render Hypernova an optional bonus to unlock extra goodies.
The other new move is Kirby’s ability to jump from the foreground to the background, then back again. There’s no practical reason for splitting the levels up in this manner, though it does allow the 3D presentation to stand up and be noticed. Donkey Kong has done this before so there’s no real “wow” factor achieved with its presence.
Advancing through the Story Mode from island to island and unlocking bonus levels requires locating hidden Sun Stones. Some of these Stones are in obvious locations and will be found relatively easy. Even the most well hidden Sun Stones can be found with a little poking around so kids shouldn’t get stuck simply because they’re a Sun Stone short of the minimum threshold to advance.
A true collectible scattered about the Story Mode are Key Chains of characters from the Kirby sprite games. You earn nothing for collecting these other than the satisfaction of subscribing to the aspiration of wanting them all and taking a short stroll through the nostalgia of Kirby’s past.
Kirby’s Triple Deluxe is visually more refined and polished than Kirby’s Epic Yarn, but also loses a bit of the charm from that game’s distinct design. It’s still a fantastic looking game with vibrant colors that plays well in either 2D or 3D, background jumping gimmick aside. Kirby may get undercard billing, but Nintendo definitely brought their “A” game in the presentation.
The first of the two alternate games, Dedede’s Drum Dash, sees the king partake in a rhythm-based game not like HarmoKnight where he must bounce across drums to the beat of the music. There are only three short levels, but each successive level is substantially harder than the last. If anything, Dedede’s Drum Dash is an advertisement for HarmoKnight, a fun and overlooked distraction of a game in and of itself.
Kirby’s Fighters is the meatier of the two additional games where up to four players basically brawl with one another in an arena. Think Super Smash Bros. but with different colored Kirbys duking it out utilizing a customized selection of 10 copy abilities. Download Play and local multiplayer are both supported, so when the Story Mode is wrapped, Kirby’s Fighters becomes the main event for continuous play in a solo progression system or against friends.
When the Story Mode is completed, Kirby’s Triple Deluxe becomes Kirby’s Quintuplet Deluxe as two additional game modes are unlocked. Dedede Tour swaps out Kirby for King Dedede in Story Mode in select stages with an emphasis on speed as it is a time trial. Arena Mode is an encore of all the boss fights from the game back-to-back, or voluntarily enlistment in deja vu.
Kirby’s Triple Deluxe makes an uninspired effort to break new ground in the venerable franchise. Instead of turning a new leaf, it uses Kirby’s signature moves and style as a crutch for a new quest with a few wrinkles sprinkled in along the way. Like Yoshi’s New Island before it, the Story Mode is simplistic and beatable without breaking a sweat. It’s also incredibly cute and kid-friendly, as it should be. Unlike his green dinosaur friend, Kirby has a few extra tricks up his sleeve once the Story wraps.
Kirby’s Triple Deluxe was reviewed on 3DS and furnished by Nintendo for the purposes of this review. It was released exclusively for 3DS on May 2, 2014.
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