As I clashed with a mechanical like Sudowoodo on a spiral staircase ever disintegrating bit by bit, I came to realise that Kirby: Planet Robobot is just plain, harmless fun. The newest in the long line of Kirby titles sees our pink puffball suit up with his very own mech suit ready to take on the malevolent space invaders. With a host of new abilities and plenty of additional modes alongside the core story, Planet Robobot undoubtedly gives you quantity, but does it give you quality?
Being my first full venture into the Kirby franchise, I was immediately struck by the main gameplay ploy. Sure I’ve dabbled with previous entries like Kirby 64, yet nothing grabbed me as much as the new Robobot Armour. Placing the adorable pink blob into a high-powered combat killing machine was an opportunity to good to pass up. Gladly I can confirm the main mechanic of Planet Robobot is one of its strongest. The traditional gameplay of Kirby running through action packed platforming levels is heightened by the introduction of the mech suit which you first are introduced after defeating a mid-level boss. Here Kirby packs a mighty punch as he can destroy all enemies and half the stage along with it. It’s a superb concept that is not overused meaning when you get the chance to don the powerhouse, you are thrilled instead of fatigued.
Copy abilities also transition to the machine too with each enemy giving a unique power. This obviously is still Kirby’s signature move when he isn’t robo-boted up. Bringing 24 individual abilities including new powers like Doctor and Poison there is more than enough to keep anyone satisfied. One difference between the two main mechanics are when in the suit instead of sucking up enemies, you analyse them and transform. For instance fire lizards will give you flamethrowers or electric mouse’s (No not Pickachu’s!) will give you an electric canon blaster. There are even a few levels where you transform into a vehicle. For me the motorbike stages were the peak, even though only used on a few occasions, where they were used, they brought a frantic nature and great sense of speed keeping me on my toes.
Typically of Nintendo, story is never front and centre. Planet Robobot is no different with only a short cinematic at the beginning outlining the premise: Robotic invaders from outer space have come to infiltrate planet Pop Star for unknown reasons. Kirby who sleeps through the first assault on the planet (including its residents) then wakes up before charging towards the “Access Ark” to thwart their villainous plans. The journey is more important than the actual reason you’re doing it and I haven’t got a problem with that whatsoever, as the lack of story is made up for with superb gameplay. As I previously stated, Planet Robobot is plain fun whether you’re jumping over ramps on a highway, swimming through an Atlantis like city or passing through a casino table.
Now with the 3DS in its later lifecycle, developers completely understand how to optimise the handheld to its potential. HAL Laboratories have done extremely well to not only make a fun, charming adventure but one that is easily accessible to all players. Within minutes I knew all of Kirby’s controls. Possibly due to a little helping hand from Smash Bros I never once found issue. Even the tilt function makes an appearance in the later half; a very brief showing questioning why it was included at all.
Besides this the 3DS beams with beauty once starting the game up. The impressive colour scheme showcases the stunning landscape of Pop Star making me eager to return. With eye-popping 3D used sparingly throughout, the developers took advantage of the 3D capability by incorporating it into the gameplay. An example of this is when Kirby is catapulted onto the screen if struck by a moving car. The jury is still out as to what 3DS game has the best 3D, yet with my time spent, I found Planet Robobot nailed the balance just right due to it not intruding too often, yet offering those wow moments therefore earning my nomination.
Another stand-out point is the music. Having Robotic- techno versions of classic Kirby themes mixed in with new orchestrated tracks make Planet Robobot quite the jukebox. Resolution Road particularly had some stand out jazzy tunes that I was humming too much after putting the 3DS down. Truly this soundtrack is flawless. Worth a listen to even if not purchasing the full experience.
Everyone enjoys a good boss fight right? Well if you don’t you might want to reconsider your purchase as Planet Robobot is crammed full of them, which I found fantastic. Whether at the start, mid-level or at the end you can be sure you’ll need your fighting gloves on to take on these brutes. Don’t even get me started on the final boss; I won’t spoil what it is, just know it’s incredible. The amount of optional ways you can take on said bosses is commendable due to the many powers Kirby can take on. The problem with this and the only real concern is the difficulty factor during the campaign. On the whole I was never really strained until the latter stages; Even then it didn’t take me more than a couple of attempts. The absent challenge is disappointing, knowingly that this is a Kirby entry and is synonymous for being too easy. I mean starting with seven lives is surely a bit too much?
Saying that don’t let this discourage you as the 8 hour experience is still fulfilling and if you are looking for that little bit more, then the collectible element will keep you occupied. During the campaign Kirby needs to collect “Code Cubes” to progress similar to how “Star Coins” work in New Super Mario Bros. It’s not necessary to obtain 100% however is another extra to revisit if you please. Stickers can also be collected and used to decorate your mech suit. The downside to this is you are limited to the mech’s arms and can only place one sticker on each. I loved this feature and wish it provided more value by being able to place as many as you want all over the suit. For this reason I basically left the stickers alone after finding my preferred two deeming this customisation wasted.
Along with the additional collectible element, you are treated to plenty of extra’s including a time attack and boss mode once you have finished the campaign. Then for fans of the classic gameplay, Kirby 3D Rumble is right up your street. Multiplayer is too present with Team Kirby Clash allowing you and friends to take on a heap of enemies together. Finally with all of the above amiibo owners get another use as any owned can be used to give Kirby a brand new power like UFO. Most importantly I have another reason to convince my girlfriend that purchasing the full line-up was a smart investment.
For anyone new to the Kirby franchise, Planet Robobot’s strong gameplay mechanics, inviting controls and eye-popping 3D provide a perfect starting point. The sheer amount of content along with the flawless soundtrack all contribute to the already incredible package. With clever new powers combined with the superb, but sparingly used Robobot Armor you have a great outing for veterans and new comers alike. Kirby’s synonymous lack of challenge may still be present, yet don’t let this discourage you as Planet Robobot transcends into that rare catalogue of both tremendous quantity and quality.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo 3DS code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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