By Justin Guillou / May 3rd, 2016
While I was at PAX East 2016, I had the opportunity to try out two levels from the upcoming Kirby Planet Robobot or the Nintendo 3DS.
The first level was your standard Kirby fare, 2.5D like the last couple couple Kirby before it. Throughout the levels you can find some collectibles in the form of stickers. It was not entirely clear on what they do so we will find out when the game is released. The graphics were really good and surprisingly enough, the 3D worked very well on the New 3DS and the framerate did not appear to take much of a hit while the game was in this mode, which is always a good thing. I will however say, I am confused at why Nintendo continues to use the GameBoy control scheme for Kirby games. Despite the fact that there are more buttons on the 3DS, A is jump and B is the Copy ability. Previous Kirby games have used what I consider to be the far more comfortable B/Y configuration yet for Triple Star Deluxe and this game they decided to go back to this control scheme. It is really awkward to control at times and removes some of the precision when it comes to controlling Kirby. I really, really wish that they would at least have a button configuration screen in the final build.
Thankfully the robot level was far more interesting. As the game has kind of a mechanical/industrial theme many enemies are robots. In fact one of the enemies I encountered was a Robot version of Wispy Woods, the iconic tree boss that is often fought at the beginning of a Kirby game. I was not sure if I could defeat it as the game expected you to run away from it. Throughout the Robot level you would periodically fight a robot character, defeat it and you can jump in and pilot it. The robots feel a lot like the ride armors from the Mega Man X series which is a good thing and it works just as well here as it does in the aforementioned series. The real draw with the Robot is that it has the copy ability and these are great as the robot has an entirely new moveset for each ability! I was having so much fun gaining abilities then dropping them and trying to get a new one to test it out. My favorite was the cutter ability as it gives the Robot two giant buzzsaws for you to just plow through everything. As cool as the Robot is, the levels were very basic and most of the puzzles involving the robot mainly involved simply breaking a wall or unscrewing/rotating a platform. While it was cool, it didn’t feel like something that Kirby could not have been able to do on his own. I hope the final game really gives us levels that can showcase what the Robot can do and make the player use it to its full abilities. One thing I often say about Kirby, is that it is a terrible platformer. Reason being: you can float indefinitely, thus eliminating any kind of challenge you would have with navigating the levels. However Kirby is not a platformer, but rather a game where you experiment with several ideas presented to you through the form of copy abilities and these are what truly make Kirby games shine in spite of what I just mentioned. The Robot can not float indefinitely like Kirby, perhaps this means that we will be getting some actual platforming challenges in a Kirby game!
Overall I had fun with Kirby Planet Robobot. The robot basically doubles the abilities Kirby can do in the game meaning you have a whole new set of ideas and concepts for you to experiment with and see how that affects the levels. I look forward to checking this game out when it releases as the Robot seems to be one of the more interesting “Gimmicks” the series has presented in recent years. Are any of you looking forward to playing Kirby Planet Robobot when it releases in June?