By Jonathan Higgins / May 12th, 2014
|Title||Kirby: Triple Deluxe|
|Release Date||JP: January 11, 2014 NA: May 2, 2014 EU: May 16, 2014|
|Platform||Nintendo 3DS, 2DS|
|Age Rating||ESRB – E|
I’ve been following Kirby: Triple Deluxe very closely since its worldwide premiere during a Nintendo Direct last October. I ate up all the screenshots and information from Japan—I even followed a handful of people who imported the game when it released over there in January. Why? I’ve always had a soft-spot for Nintendo’s versatile ball of pink. And that’s a good word to use when describing most Kirby games: versatile. Since the early 1990s, Kirby’s outings have been either traditional or…experimental. His traditional lineup includes the early Kirby’s Dream Land games, while more experimental games like Kirby Mass Attack or Kirby Canvas Curse have been sprinkled in-between. The last Kirby platformer that came our way was Kirby’s Return to Dream Land on Wii, released around October 2011. So…it’s been a while! Now that I’ve played Kirby: Triple Deluxe for just over thirteen hours and completed the main storyline (insofar as both beating all the levels and collecting each level’s hidden Sun Stones—more on that momentarily)…I’m finding it difficult to explain how I feel.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. I suppose those are the first words that come to mind. When I reviewed New Super Mario Bros. U way back during the launch of the Wii U, I was able to speak at length because it seemed like the game was concerned with stretching beyond its pedigree, while simultaneously embracing its roots. That Mario game had a world map, in-game Miiverse interactivity, sufficient GamePad use and handfuls of extra modes to increase replayability, some of which were rarely, if ever, seen in a Mario game previously. Triple Deluxe…isn’t that. Before I even begin explaining myself, I think it’s important to note that Kirby’s latest outing does very little to “evolve” the Kirby series. If I were a different person, I honestly feel that I could legitimately get away with saying, “It’s just another Kirby game. You’ll know what to expect if you’ve played anything in the franchise since 1995.” slapping an appropriate score on it, and calling this review a wrap. Thankfully, that’s not the case.
It’s just another Kirby game. Well, more specifically—it’s another take on Kirby’s Return to Dream Land. In terms of gameplay, it feels like Super Mario Galaxy 2 felt after playing Super Mario Galaxy in 2007. Return to Dream Land had plenty of outstanding features, many of which series fans would consider notable steps forward in traditional Kirby gameplay. Return to Dream Land gave Kirby full control over his powers, allowing players to move Kirby in all directions while swinging his blade or hammer…or blasting forth as a meteor with the fire power, etc. And Triple Deluxe offers exactly that—the fully functioning controls of the game that came before it. The gameplay is so similar that…it’s practically impossible for me not to draw comparisons between the two games. For the sake argument: Return to Dream Land features a series staple of placing levels behind doors in a mini-hub denoted for each World in the game. Here are some examples.
Triple Deluxe, by contrast, just…gives you a linear path to follow. Each level has a unique image to set it apart, which is a unique touch (especially coming down from the lack of polish present in Yoshi’s New Island), but…it’s a tiny step backwards. Before I say anything else—I feel like the masses who really enjoyed Return to Dream Land are going to feel like this game is…a solid entry, but not quite up to the level of what that game was.
It’s a different Kirby game. Sure—you’re still Kirby, and the object of the game is still to eat everything in your path while seeking out hidden objects as you explore. But there are a few things Triple Deluxe does differently than its predecessors, and most of these are a very good thing. Many of these things were likely implemented because Triple Deluxe (3D, if you didn’t catch the title pun) is on Nintendo 3DS. First of all: Each level has layers to it, much like Mutant Mudds. You can often jump between the background and foreground of a level by way of a special star, and, sometimes, there are way more than just two layers to a level. Oftentimes, the level design accommodates this sense of duality. Enemies will come from the background to attack you in the foreground, or vise-versa. The game’s mini-bosses and bosses are especially unique and noteworthy in this regard. I can honestly say that Triple Deluxe offers some of the most interesting boss fights of the series, if only because the game toys with your expectations. Do you think you’re about to take on Wispy Wood for the hundredth time in the series? It’s true in theory—but this one can jump around and squish you like a tomato. As far as “things about Triple Deluxe that impressed me the most”—these boss fights are top-notch. Each and every boss level had a natural progression. If I can’t say anything else positive about Triple Deluxe (don’t worry; that’s not how this is going to go), I can at least promise that its masters are genuinely fun to trounce.
There are new powers to speak of, as well. The Bell copy ability is pretty weak up close, but the bells Kirby dons can be used as a shield or emit sound-waves to hurt distant foes. The Archer copy ability gives Kirby free-range control of a bow and arrow. Aim, charge up shots, fire three shots….this is definitely a copy ability for sharp shooters that’s a natural step-up from the Cupid copy ability seen in games like Kirby and the Amazing Mirror. The Circus copy ability lets Kirby…roll on a ball or jump through a ring of fire. I think that one’s the weakest of the new additions, but…to be honest, none of these hold a candle to the (Almighty) Beetle copy ability that is so unbelievably overpowered that I swept all of the game’s final bosses with this single ability. It gives Kirby wings like an insect to fly freely, and features a horn that’s used like a mixture of the Sword and Fighting copy abilities. Gut enemies or hurl objects…it’s up to you! Before moving on: over twenty old copy abilities are in this game as well. It has (almost) everything you could think of.
Also new to Triple Deluxe: the Hypernova ability. This is a sort of replacement for the Super Abilities in Return to Dream Land. Instead of granting Kirby an overpowered sword to swing, it’s…his eating that becomes overpowered. You suck up things I would have never expected Kirby to be able to swallow! The game has an extremely clever way of building up this ability each time it’s used. You start by being able to inhale entire trees—but by the end of the game, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Kirby had been able to suck up the entire beanstalk he’d been standing on! The Hypernova ability isn’t exactly a giant leap forward for the series, but it’s definitely something that was very cleverly implemented. It does a lot to make certain levels in the game go from “very good” to “almost unforgettable”. I may have been unimpressed overall by the lack of gameplay variants in Triple Deluxe, but the level design is quite solid.
Wrapping things up in the “differences” department—it’s everyone’s favorite thing! This Kirby game features gyroscopic controls unique to the Nintendo 3DS. Navigate mine-cart-like contraptions on a set path by tilting your system. Pour water on burning rocks (or to make plants grow) very gingerly to unlock secrets from time to time. Light a wick with the Flame copy ability, then hop into a cannon and use gyroscopic controls to move a block that has pieces of rope you need to make sure the burning wick hits, in order to reach the end of the cannon and blast you upwards. Indeed—puzzles that require gyroscopic controls. Thankfully, none of these puzzles were super frustrating, but…I found myself needing to “reset the tilt” (an option available to you on the bottom screen when using gyro controls, thank goodness) almost every time when faced with these puzzles. These kinds of controls are what amount to another tiny step backwards, in my opinion. It’s not as though these controls were poorly implemented; that’s not my issue. My issue is that every single one of these gyro-puzzles would have been better-implemented (and just as challenging) if I could just gingerly use the control stick instead of…gingerly tilting my system. When you’re playing a platforming game on a handheld device, your environment doesn’t often cater to motion-controls. Making these types of controls necessary in certain instances doesn’t speak well to how the rest of the game feels.
My thoughts about presentation and more can be found on the next page.
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