|Dev: HAL Laboratory|
|Release: May 2, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Cartoon Violence|
by Jenni Lada
I've always considered Kirby something of an ironic, iconic character. He's an amorphous, adorable, blobular character. Charming, to be sure, but he looks nothing like the incredibly famous video game star he is. Though, the games themselves are even more surprising. In the 22 years since Kirby's Dream Land has been released, 23 games have been released and they're all more than passable. Whether it's a spin-off or a major installment, Kirby is a name you can trust. Fortunately, Kirby Triple Deluxe continues this tradition.
It begins on an ordinary day. Kirby frolicks through Dream Land, fishing, noshing, flying and napping. It doesn't last (it never does.) During the night, a gigantic beanstalk, known as the Dreamstalk, lifts Kirby's home up high into the sky. But Kirby isn't the only one afflicted; King Dedede's castle and a number of other landmasses have been carried up into the air. Kirby watches helplessly as a curious creature absconds with an unconscious Dedede. Naturally, Kirby follows through seven worlds to save the monarch and the day.
Playing a new Kirby game feels like coming home. As with all installments, Kirby Triple Deluxe takes us to a colorful world filled with vibrant locations, deceptively powerful foes and secrets. The platforming feels familiar, as do the levels, but there's still this sense of diversity and freshness that makes the adventure more entertaining. Levels gradually grow more challenging, but are never punishingly difficult. Replays are encouraged into completed areas, to collect keychains or Sun Stones to unlock the boss level or a location's bonus stage.
Though, while Kirby Triple Deluxe maintains the same theme and vibes as previous games, it isn't afraid to innovate. There are some incredibly clever gameplay elements implemented. I cherished every voyage into a "haunted" area, because then it meant experiencing a clever mechanic where I had to pay attention to what I'd see in the mirrors in the background. The foreground would lie to me, and if I didn't pay attention, I could walk straight into a ghost or spike-filled pit.
Speaking of the foreground and background, Kirby Triple Deluxe succeeds in being more than just another exceptional and endearing 3DS game. It happens to be one of the few games on the system that knows how to make the most of the 3D effect, further proving that only the developers most closely related to Nintendo know how to make the most of the hardware. It borrows Mutant Mudd's mechanic of allowing Kirby to jump into the foreground and background of a level, which is a lovely effect and leads to quite a few gameplay mechanics that make the most of the difference in depth. But even the more gimmicky endeavors, like Kirby flying and hitting the screen in one level if a player doesn't avoid a moving wall or a train flying forward along a track from the background toward a player, look amazing. It's the only game I've made a point of playing in 3D in the last six months.
HAL Laboratory also made the most of the 3DS' gyroscopic functions. It's mostly used to ferry Kirby from one location to another via these cute little gondolas, usually because he's carrying a key or bomb and can't fly as normal, though it does pop up in other circumstances. Sometimes, a block with cannon fuses must be shifted from one place to another to fire a cannon, or the 3DS has to be tilted to aim a cannon or rocket. My favorite circumstance was involved the archer ability and perfectly positioning a thin route through a circle so an arrow could go through a passage and hit a target on the other side.
But we all know it isn't all about Kirby looking pretty and the game playing well. The copy abilities can make or break a Kirby game, and I'm especially enamored with the powers in Kirby Triple Deluxe. In his earliest adventures, it often felt like only certain powers were "special." You looked forward to getting a sword or becoming a fighter, because then there was an elaborate move set available. Here, every copy ability gets the star treatment. Every single power offers the opportunity to do more than just press B to make something happen. Each ability, with the exception of Sleep, has become more versatile and useful. I found it refreshing. In most installments, I have a few favorite abilities, which I will attempt to maintain through multiple levels. With Kirby Triple Deluxe, I was in a constant state of flux. While I had my favorites, namely the newly added Beetle and the Hypernova ability that lets him suck up any and everything, I was more likely to give other powers a chance because they all had more to offer.
What's especially cool is that the enemies also seem to be aware of these improved movesets. The lesser enemies will tend to just use one of the abilities available to them, but the mini-bosses know, and use, every move their copy ability has. It really makes you look forward to these matchups, because the character you're facing could have a surprise up their sleeve. It won't be the same old pattern of jumping and dodging, which is always a good thing.