Kirby Triple Deluxe-Review

Sam Parish

Sam Parish is a sometimes writer, cartoonist and soon-to-be teacher (God help us all). He has a penchant for pop/geek culture, expensive teas and empty hammocks. He was hoping to end this bio with a joke. He failed. Tell him what you think of him @SamOfAllThings

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Show of hands here-who remembers Kirby’s Dream Land? The cute little platformer on the original Game Boy that starred an adorable ball of fluff, whose signature move was sucking up anything that got in his way and spitting it right back out-remember it?

Did you know that aside from that (and being a permanent fixture in the ever-excellent Smash Brother series) Kirby has spearheaded a whole raft of games across each of the Nintendo systems? From stringy platformers to even pinball Kirby has been a mainstay of videogaming history. Which brings us to his latest outing-his inaugural appearance on the Nintendo 3DS in Kirby Triple Deluxe (get it?).

And let me tell you what an appearance it is.

So the set-up this time around is that one night whilst our hero sleeps a giant beanstalk (Sorry, “Dreamstalk”) sprouts carrying Kirby’s home, and the castle of his long-time nemesis King Dedede (think Bowser without the raw charisma), high up into the clouds. A mysterious villain quickly spirits Dedede away, leaving Kirby to give chase and restore order to his candy-coated world.

Admittedly it’s not exactly Tolstoy here, but since when does anybody pick up a Mario game for the scintillating dialogue and incredible story? (Yes, you can stop mentioning the Paper Mario series now thank you)

With that bit of stage-setting in place players can jump right into the real meat of the experience-some quality platforming action.

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Gameplay is standard fair for those familiar with Kirby’s platforming antics, but for the uninitiated Triple Deluxe sees you jaunt through a variety of 2D worlds jumping, gliding and smashing enemies across the screen along the way.

Kirby handles great-tight jumping turns into smooth gliding at the touch of a button and he can dash around the place without suffering from friend Mario’s need to build up speed. No, with Kirby everything is about quick and fluid movement which gels perfectly with the chunky, jump-and-run layout of each level.

However, there’s more to Kirby that just dashing across the screen. Kirby’s most memorable ability comes in the form of opening up his cavernous gob and inhaling all manner of things-be they blocks, scenery and most-importantly enemies.

Whenever the little guy gulps down one of the many bad guys that litter each level he has the option to either spit it out as a basic projectile attack or swallow and absorb their powers for his own use. For example, say a fireball monster gets eaten Kirby suddenly sprouts flaming hair and gains access to an array of pyrotechnic abilities-from your basic flame-thrower to spinning wheels of burning death.

With a whole host of enemy types appearing throughout, Kirby has an embarrassment of tricks to play with; a particular favourite of mine is the Circus power which grants Kirby the chance to roll over enemies on a giant ball and attack them with balloon animals. Each new power is a joy to discover and I can guarantee there is enough here to put a smile on anybody’s face-Triple Deluxe oozes the kind of charm and whimsy that other developers wish that they could come close to.

But Triple Deluxe also gives more reason to switch things up than just for funsies. Over the course of the game you are tasked with collecting several Sun Stones in each level. Many of these are hidden away behind puzzles and secret doorways that require a suitably matched power to unlock so you are encouraged not to bogard a single set for too long.

Capping this is the new Hypernova power. Upon ingesting one of the Miracle Seeds dotted around various levels Kirby takes on a whole new level of suck-literally. When in Hypernova mode Kirby’s inhale power is heightened a hundred-fold allowing you to suck up waves of enemies, scenery such as trains and trees and generally cause wide-scale mayhem. It’s a delight to behold and it often brings out some of the game’s more memorable moments-such as seeing a giant snake monster panic as it tries in vain to stop from being guzzled and a delightful spin on the classic “Three Little Pigs” formula.

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Alongside all this additional fun is to be had collecting the various keychains scattered across the game. As with the Sun Stones, keychains are hidden away in secret corners of the map, and collecting them gives added incentive to scour every last nook and cranny.  The keychains themselves all feature sprites from previous games in the series providing a nostalgia hit for fans and a glimpse into Kirby’s past for those unfamiliar with his long and varied career.

The keychains are randomised, allowing you to replay levels to collect new ones. Alongside this you can purchase them for five Play Coins (gathered from walking around with your 3DS) and swapping any extras via Streetpass. These are nice touches that prevent the game from becoming a slog for those who wish to see their collection complete.

As for the levels themselves Triple Deluxe features the usual grab-bag of platforming standards: lava world, ice world and so on all make an appearance and for the most part manage to keep things interesting by mixing up the manner in which you traverse them. From leaping between swimming sections, to slipping and sliding back and forth there is plenty of variety, but sadly memorable moments are few and far between. To its credit levels are sharp and snappy, often completed in just a few minutes. This bite-sized structure makes Triple Deluxe perfect for on-the-go gaming, but the constant barrage of new levels makes prolonged sessions a little wearying.

Aside from this, the biggest issue to be found with Triple Deluxe is its lack of difficulty. Whilst certainly enjoyable never did I feel particularly challenged during my time-in fact the only deaths that occurred were ones that I deliberately caused so that I may restart a section to grab a Sun Stone or keychain I had missed first time around, due to either rushing or not having the right power on hand when I encountered it.

As complaints go it is pretty minor, but for those looking for a piece of that famed “Nintendo Hard” action you will be rather disappointed.

Kirby has a rich heritage of stuffing each of his titles with a slew of extras and Triple Deluxe is no exception. Along with the main story mode there are two additional mini-games to check out. The first Dedede’s Drum Dash is a rhythm game that sees the titular villain navigating a series of drums by jumping in time with the beat. It’s a short experience at only three levels but with each one offering the chance at bronze, silver and gold medals it has definite replay value.

However, the real fun to be had is in Kirby Fighters. Essentially a stripped-down Smash Bros clone it pits you and up to three other players/CPU-controlled opponents (sadly via local/download play only) in multi-round arena battles. Each match allows you to select one of Kirby’s many powers and duke it out for honour and glory. It’s a surprisingly dense mode that kept my attention far longer than expected and with the right group of friends it makes for a truly wonderful bit of multiplayer madness.

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Visually Triple Deluxe is an utter joy. Bright, cartoony graphics and inventive enemy design show that Hal Laboratory really know how to make an attractive game. Vivid, sweetshop colours make each world feel distinct and vibrant, and if there was one game worth cranking up the 3D for this is it. Not only does it look fantastic in 3D but it also helps with gameplay as both Kirby and his opponents switch between background and foreground over the course of each level. By no means is this essential but this is one of the rare cases where it really does make a difference.

Overall it’s hard not to have a good time with Kirby Triple Deluxe. Whilst it may not boast about being the deepest or most challenging of games (nor will it do much new for the diehard Kirby faithful) it manages to be a perfect entry point for newcomers and lapsed fans: Great to look at, brimming with personality and built for short-burst fun (not forgetting plenty of extras and some brilliant multiplayer) it is safe to say this is one Kirby game that definitely does not suck.

 

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