Under the presence of Nintendo’s titles from its big names and faces, like Mario, Zelda, or Pokemon, pink puffball Kirby has always been something of an under-appreciated idol in Nintendo’s stable of franchises. While Mario provided the old-school thrills of 2D platforming, and Zelda gives the big, grand adventures, Kirby brings something else to Nintendo’s table — a cute, charming world, plenty of challenging platforming action, and most of all, Kirby’s extremely insatiable appetite for sucking things up.
Following the more recent entires in the series like Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, and the Dream Collection celebrating Kirby‘s 20th Anniversary, Nintendo and HAL Laboratory’s latest title brings things back to basics. While Epic Yarn and Return to Dreamland brought some big experiments to the series like co-op and a unique art style, Triple Deluxe takes the essence of the series and amplifies it threefold in an adventure that’s familiar, exciting, and new all at the same time.
It’s safe to say that to longtime followers of the series, Kirby: Triple Deluxe doesn’t “suck” (yes: pun, intended).
Setting Kirby up as the hero of Dream Land once again as he faces a new threat and a more mysterious force known as the Dreamstalk, Triple Deluxe‘s loose plot sets things up for a new take on Kirby that is refreshingly old-school but mixed with plenty of new additions, tweaks, and surprising inclusions that easily puts it at the top of any 3DS owner’s “Must-Play List.” Kirby may not be Mario or Link, but his latest adventure should make them take notice.
Like Kirby titles of the past, this title is a 2.5D platformer where Kirby moves through a collection of levels across six worlds, each being littered with an assortment of enemies, power-ups and collectibles waiting to be gobbled. As Kirby is known for, his primary attack consists of sucking up enemies to absorb their powers — with a quick few button presses, Kirby can wield a sword, throw a spear, transform into a rolling wheel, or even take on a pair of wings and fly through levels.
While Mario notably has always had his share of unique special outfits or power-ups, Kirby’s defining characteristic of taking on so many different forms, from Fire to Rock to Beetle, has always been one of the hallmarks of the series not only visually, but also in terms of mechanics. In particular though, Triple Deluxe brings some big switch-ups in new powers and abilities, as well as how they’re utilized throughout the game.
Bringing over 25 powers into the title, with a large mix of those from previous games as well as plenty of new abilities (my personal favorite being the new “Wing” ability), Triple Deluxe brings a huge amount of variety and accessibility not only to the powers that Kirby has access to throughout the game, but especially to the times when Kirby is powerless himself. Itbrings much of the simplicity that made previous Kirby titles enjoyable, bur in particular brings some added depth, with HAL Laboratory especially drawing lots of inspiration from Super Smash Bros. for Kirby’s latest romp.
Now equipped with the abilities to do ground slides, air dodges, and quick ground maneuvers to avoid attacks, the new abilities thankfully speed up some of the series’ notoriously slow-moving gameplay, while also making Kirby just as versatile and dangerous without powers as he is with them. Using and absorbing powers in the game becomes almost an option to success; it’s entirely fun to try them out, but playing as regular ol’ Kirby simply opens up an alternative (and interesting) way to play.
That said, it would be hard to skimp out on the sheer assortment of abilities that Kirby has on hand to play with. Fire, Ice, Leaf, Spark, Cutter, Archer — all of the game’s various powers are incredibly diverse and fun to play with, and give great options that players can tailor to their specific style of play or progression. Even better is the newly-added “Hypernova” ability, which suffice to say, is a sight worth seeing as Kirby can suddenly (and amusingly) suck up everything in his path; surely the sight of tiny Kirby sucking up humongous trees, and even bosses, is always amusing and fun. Thankfully the new power also brings plenty of new gameplay possibilities as it is utilized in various puzzle sections.
The game brings a pretty clear emphasis on giving Kirby a multitude of powers and abilities — on that front, the game brings plenty to admire and love, just as much as its cheery mood and beautiful art. Even in the slightly blown-up display of the 3DS XL, Triple Deluxe pops with its colorful cartoony graphics.
It also demonstrates itself as another title that utilizes the system’s 3D for some neat visual tricks and gameplay enhancements, such as Kirby’s new ability to use Warp Stars to “jump” between elements in the foreground and background of stages. It may not have some of the same 3D “wow” factors that Super Mario 3D Land or The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds were able to bring to the 3DS’s key (and often ignored) feature, but seeing Kirby launched and smushed into your screen still manages to get a smile out.
While the game has an incredibly solid gameplay foundation with surprisingly robust combat, Triple Deluxe does once again show that Kirby isn’t exactly the swiftest of characters, as the game is notably slower-paced than your average Mario title. Even though the game clocks in at a fairly brief 6-7 hours, Kirby’s noticeably indistinct difference between walking and running does tend to make the character feel slow at times, especially mixed in with some aggravatingly long hit animations from enemies that often causes the loss of many valuable power-ups or opportunities to hit bosses.
Likewise, the game also implements some sections of using the 3DS’s gyroscope features to move across sections of a level, such as titling the 3DS to move Kirby across a ski slope or racing through a track on a cart — it’s simple and effective, but never fully utilized to any meaningful degree or purpose, in addition to the fact that just flying as Kirby oftentimes is faster/more reasonable.
Even though Kirby may be small, his game is anything but, with a title that truly fits given that the game packs in a surprisingly generous amount of additional content, modes, and even some fun multiplayer modes that can keep players in Dream Land just for a while longer after completing the game’s single-player story. Just as the game’s combat and gameplay draws much from Super Smash Bros., so too does the title take Smash Bros. “Trophies” and morphs them into a series of collectible Keychains that players can gather throughout the game, which feature an assortment of tokens from Kirby‘s storied history.
Likewise the multiplayer modes, although seemingly simple at first, are no less addicting and incredibly fun. If you’ve been waiting to get your hands on the new Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, a quick play through the inspired “Kirby Fighters” mode might be able to whet your appetite for a while with its free-for-all combat mode, where players can battle each other in short arena-based matches, both locally and online. In the same way, “Dedede’s Drum Dash” will fill any fan’s desire for a short but sweet rhythm-based game that can even be played in co-op with friends.
Kirby may be small and cute, but he doesn’t let looks deceive anyone, and neither should those that look at Kirby: Triple Deluxe. With a wide variety of charming levels and an even greater assortment of fun, inventive power-ups and abilities, Triple Deluxe‘s slightly gameplay misgivings are easy to overlook, even if it’s only because of Kirby’s inescapable cuteness and charm. Although Kirby may not have the big presence of Nintendo’s other franchises, this gamenevertheless makes a case as one of the system’s most refreshing and feature-packed platformers yet, and provides a fun, old-school experience that is all too easy to get sucked into.