Sometimes, in a gaming industry full of brutal violence and dark, dreary storylines, you just need to play something a little breezier. A little more colourful. A little, dare I say, cuter.
Well, it doesn’t get much more charming and innocent than Nintendo’s super-successful Kirby franchise! Finally, we have a dedicated Kirby platformer to enjoy on the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS as well, that being Kirby: Triple Deluxe!
Considering the character’s immense success on the last-gen DS, with four superb offerings on that handheld alone, it’s a bit odd that the series has taken so long to come to Nintendo’s current portable platform, if one doesn’t count 3DS Virtual Console offerings from the Game Boy and NES libraries anyway. As the saying goes however, better late than never.
The added development time appears to have paid off as well, because Kirby: Triple Deluxe is a highly enjoyable platformer that makes for a fun and adorable adventure for 3DS and 2DS owners of all ages. It’s not a particularly challenging romp if you opt to ignore the extra content and bonus collectibles, but if you have a young gamer to satisfy, or just enjoy unwinding with a nice, breezy adventure every now and again yourself, Kirby: Triple Deluxe definitely stands as one of this year’s better 3DS offerings so far.
One of the first things that will grab you in Kirby: Triple Deluxe is how fantastic it looks!
Much of the visuals echo the style of the previous Kirby’s Return to Dream Land on the Wii, and the game even appears to take entire assets from that game, including sound bytes, music tracks and a few enemy designs. It then makes them even better by sharpening the colour definition even further, and producing even more impressive lighting and shading effects throughout the level designs, albeit compressing the resolution a bit, since this is a handheld game.
Obviously, this goes along with the expected flourish of stereoscopic 3D visuals for 3DS and 3DS XL owners as well. As much as Kirby: Triple Deluxe looks great already when it’s simply played in 2D, it’s when the 3D Slider is really cranked up that you’ll get the full effect of the eye-popping graphics throughout the game.
The uses of 3D are some of the most ambitious and brilliant yet in a platformer since Super Mario 3D Land as well! The game constantly plays with depth, challenging players to assess threats both in the foreground and background (which Kirby can now move between using specialized Warp Stars), and having things like rotating walls, giant hand pressers and even the bullets of Shotzo’s appear to pop right out of the screen throughout various stages. Even some bosses will appear to splash the screen with paint or sear it black with flames, complete with particles appearing to creep out at the player. It all looks incredibly cool in motion, and it’s a shame that people playing on a 2DS, or simply opting to turn off the 3D Slider, will suffer a compromised adventure as a result.
As with any Kirby game however, what sells the visuals most of all is just the incredible charm behind them. Everything has that usual cuddly and heart-melting presentation that the Kirby series delivers so well, constantly eliciting smiles from the player. Even when things go badly for you, you’ll chuckle at the sight of Kirby being flattened against the screen and appearing to slide down it (yet another cool and funny use of 3D!), or get knocked back as a flaming wide-eyed ball upon touching a lava flow.
The fact that this is the best-looking Kirby game to date just makes all of that cuteness even more enjoyable as well!
Kirby: Triple Deluxe has a rather extensive soundtrack that’s full of mostly new tunes, which remain as fluffy and catchy as they ever have throughout this series. The great new songs alone make for strong incentive to plug in a pair of headphones and hum along with the sugary sweet outdoor melodies and surprisingly tense chords of caverns and haunted houses. Like the visuals, the music is just too cute and fun not to appreciate!
While most of the tracks are entirely new, some are taken from previous Kirby games as well, whether fully intact or remixed. In fact, despite not coming out during any kind of specific milestone for the series, Kirby: Triple Deluxe seems especially happy to celebrate the series’ mainline platformer history, and that comes through in the sheer amount of music it revives from former games, with Kirby’s Dream Land, Kirby Super Star and Kirby’s Return to Dream Land seeming to be particular favourites.
Sound effects are mostly the same poppy, upbeat and cartoony effects from the former games, with a pretty hefty chunk appearing to be borrowed from Kirby’s Return to Dream Land. The saccharine voice of Kirby himself peppers the sound effects you’ll be hearing as well, exclaiming when he gets hit by an enemy, cutely grunting when using certain attacks, and even adorably greeting the player when they defeat a boss, or do particularly well on the chance minigame at the end of each stage.
The other limited character dialogue in the game is exclusively conveyed through text, with only the odd Kirby voice clip, but this helps to maintain the Nintendo charm of mostly unspoken characters letting their personalities sell them single-handedly. Obviously, Kirby has no shortage of personality either, and it’s great that his adventures still carry that personality throughout them in their audio quality.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe is a pretty standard 2.5D platformer for the series, and anyone who has played any of the mainline platformer offerings, particularly the previous Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, will feel right at home with it. Even if this is your first go-around with Kirby however, it’s pretty easy to understand for even very young, uninitiated players.
The game is divided into six worlds, each having four or five regular stages, a boss stage, and an extra stage that can be unlocked when you find all of the collectible Sun Stones in that world, of which there are about three or four in each stage. The simple goal of each stage is to reach the Goal Door, moving throughout various areas, running, jumping, hovering, and of course, gobbling up and swallowing enemies, many of which give Kirby a host of special abilities.
Like in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, Kirby can use his abilities in multiple fashions, when players enter various combinations with the Control Pad and B Button. For example, with the Sword ability, you can swing the sword standing still, jab upwards and downwards, dash forwards, and do a mid-air spinning cut, with a couple of other attack variations. Every ability has multiple applications, both for navigation and battling enemies, and approaching certain areas with the correct abilities is often the key to amassing collectibles and having the easiest time dispatching enemies.
As you can expect, Kirby: Triple Deluxe introduces some all-new abilities as well, namely the Horn ability, Circus ability and Bell ability. Horn is a very useful ability that lets Kirby fly like an insect, impale and launch both enemies and objects with a beetle-like horn, and attack with multiple quick swipes. Circus is an unpredictable ability that lets Kirby juggle flaming cones, bound forward and back, balance on a ball, and do all sorts of acrobatic tricks. Finally, Bell gives Kirby a pair of sonic bells that he can ring to defeat and drive back enemies, toss as boomerang-like projectiles, and use as a sound-based shield.
Of all the new abilities however, the event-driven Hypernova ability is definitely the most cool and fun to use. In certain stages, Kirby will be able to touch (or inhale) a Hypernova Fruit, which will give him a rainbow hue, and drastically increase the power of his inhaling abilities. Using Hypernova, players can watch Kirby inhale entire trees and structures, suck up massive creatures that are many times his size, and even absorb large projectiles to spit back at powerful enemies.
There’s rarely any thought required to using Hypernova, and even when there is, it’s not the kind of thought that, say, a six-year-old couldn’t figure out after a short time. Still, it’s a fun ability that even adults will find is quite humourous and oddly empowering. It somehow never gets old to watch a tiny, loveable character like Kirby lay waste to entire enemy settlements and scenery with just his voracious appetite!
Ultimately, the adventure is pretty uncomplicated, but that’s alright, because it’s lots of fun, if you don’t mind the lack of challenge throughout most of the affair. The clever, dynamic and highly engaging boss fights are among the most challenging parts of the game, but even they can be taken down reasonably simply if players have the right amount of patience and bring the right ability along to fight them with.
There are also certain sections where you have to use your handheld’s gyroscope to aim a rocket weapon, tilt a bowl of water, steer a gondola-like basket, or manipulate the stage in some other fashion. These sections are interesting, but they would have been better if the gyroscopic controls didn’t sometimes lose calibration and force you to spin your 3DS/2DS around in increasingly exaggerated fashions just to get the object in question to move properly. Thankfully however, this annoying technical hiccup is reasonably uncommon.
Fortunately, as with any other great Kirby game, Kirby: Triple Deluxe doesn’t end with the completion of every stage and the defeat of the final boss. Once Kirby reaches the top of the Dreamstalk, the giant path he takes between the six worlds in pursuit of a kidnapped King Dedede, there’s still collectible Sun Stones to track down, which are necessary to unlock some of the extra features as well as the extra stages, and numerous keychains that depict enemies, items and Kirby incarnations from throughout the series, from the original Kirby’s Dream Land all the way through to Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, and including some of the new characters from Kirby: Triple Deluxe as well!
The keychains are basically just a collectible for show, even if they will be a true delight to amass for longtime Kirby fans, particularly since they’re randomized, and you’ll never be sure which keychains you picked up as you find them throughout the game’s stages. This is where the StreetPass functionality of Kirby: Triple Deluxe comes in however, since players can exchange StreetPass data to boost their keychain collections by having Waddle Dee appear in stages to toss them the keychains that other players have collected. You can also use StreetPass to make other Waddle Dee’s toss you better items than they otherwise would, though this is less useful, especially considering the fact that much of Kirby: Triple Deluxe is a pretty breezy adventure.
There’s a grand total of 256 keychains to collect in the game, and it’s extremely doubtful that players will find all of them in any short time! Despite this however, certain gold keychains, designated as ‘Rare Keychains’, are set collectibles, with one of each being hidden in each stage. These keychains often depict more ornate and stylish foes from the series’ history, and can’t be earned or exchanged the same way that common keychains can.
Beyond collectibles, players can also unwind with two minigames, the Super Smash Bros.-esque Kirby Fighters, which pits a player and up to three of their friends (or the A.I.) against one another in an attempt to drain their opponents’ health bars with their chosen ability, and Dedede’s Drum Dash, a rhythm-based minigame where players bounce Dedede on drum-like platforms to the beat of familiar Kirby music. They’re decent distractions, but as usual with the Kirby games’ bonus minigames, their novelty wears off fast, and they come off as little more than fleeting time-wasters.
What’s more likely to hold the attention of Kirby fans is an awesome unlockable Time Attack-esque mode, Dedede Tour, where you replay the game’s stages as King Dedede, complete with a bonus boss at the end. Dedede can’t use copy abilities the way Kirby can, but he wields his trusty mallet, and is generally both stronger and faster than the Defender of Dream Land, offering a cool new set of play mechanics which, when paired with trying to beat a time limit, inject far more challenge and intensity into what’s otherwise a pretty lightweight quest.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe also brings back The Arena, a Boss Rush mode where players can take on the game’s bosses and minibosses in a marathon-style challenge, trying to beat their best times and scores. The unlockable True Arena Mode, earned from beating the Dedede Tour, even lets you share scores via StreetPass, which will be great incentive for more competitive players to keep perfecting their skills, even if it’s still not a real substitute for an absent online leaderboard.
As you can no doubt see, Kirby: Triple Deluxe is packed with content, and is bound to keep the fun going for quite a while. Sure, there will come a point where you exhaust this latest set of activities with 100% completion (even if those keychains will take you a long while!), and are simply left to await Kirby’s next adventure. It will be a good while before that point comes for completionists however, since this is one of the series’ meatiest and most satisfying gameplay offerings yet, particularly for a handheld game!
Kirby: Triple Deluxe may be a lightweight platformer for the most part, but it’s still lots of fun and packed with loveable charm. It’s an adorable crowd-pleaser for 3DS/2DS owners, and makes for a wonderful way to relax and unwind with something enjoyable and friendly, but still offering some decent thrills in its extra content especially.
Longstanding adult Kirby fans and younger gamers will definitely get the most out of Kirby: Triple Deluxe, but it’s nonetheless one of the most well-designed and satisfying mainline Kirby platformers to come along since Kirby Super Star and its DS remake. As a 2.5D platformer for the 3DS library, its final product also feels noticeably more satisfying than New Super Mario Bros. 2, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D or Yoshi’s New Island, particularly given its outstanding use of 3D effects!
If you already enjoy Kirby games, this one is a must-play! If you’ve never played a Kirby game before, and are interested in giving the series a try, there hasn’t been a better introduction to it on offer in many years. Hardcore gamers seeking a challenge will still be left wanting here for the most part, but if you’re just looking for good, clean gaming fun, Kirby: Triple Deluxe is serving up plenty of that!
- Excellent graphics and 3D
- Fun, creative level design
- Typically easy
- Fussy gyroscope sections