Review: Kirby Triple Deluxe for Nintendo 3DS
Kirby sucks like never before, but this game certainly doesn’t!
“Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, that’s a name you should know…” And for good reason: Kirby: Triple Deluxe is one of the best games available for the Nintendo 3DS right now.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe contains five modes, three of which center around the central story mode of the game, and two of those only become available once you’ve finished the main quest.
Said quest begins when Kirby awakens to find his house has been uprooted and carried high above Dream Land by a mysterious plant known as the Dreamstalk. He notices that he’s not the only one whose home has been carried skyward, and goes to see what’s going on at King Dedede’s castle, arriving just in time to see a mysterious spider-esque intruder known as Taranza disable the king’s guards and abduct him for reasons unknown. From there, it’s up to you as Kirby to give chase and find out what’s going on.
Kirby proceeds through six worlds averaging about six stages in length (plus bonus levels) for a total of 36 main levels. Digging around has told me that there is actually a seventh world, but I’ve not been able to find any other info regarding it besides a name, which I won’t reveal for spoilers’ sake. Suffice to say, I think it’s a bonus world accessed by gathering every single Sun Stone from every world in the game.
“Sun Stones,” you ask? Indeed; these collectible baubles are found in differing numbers throughout each level, with a handy counter at the top of the lower screen letting you know how many each one contains. These act much like the collectible stars in various Mario titles, as a certain number are required in order to challenge the boss of each world. Fortunately, though some are cleverly hidden, I found I always had more than enough to proceed, and never came to a screeching halt as I did in Super Mario 3D World, forcing me to grind for more.
Beyond that, the game is fairly standard Kirby fare. Well, as “standard” as Kirby tends to be, given he’s proven himself to be one of the most versatile characters in Nintendo’s entire pantheon of icons. Just as in other games to bear his name, Triple Deluxe does a remarkable job of incorporating innovative new elements while remaining true to itself, resulting in an end product that is at once both fresh yet familiar– a difficult trick to pull off sometimes, yet Kirby does it with panache and style, making it look easy all the while.
Most importantly of all, the new elements never feel gimmicky– they feel like they’re building upon a solid foundation of what Kirby titles have brought before. In some ways, it’s similar to how New Super Mario Bros. 2 brings new tricks to the table, but feels like it does the job much, much better. It’s a sequel done right.
As always, Kirby has numerous powers at his disposal– 26 in total– obtained when he either grabs a specially-marked trophy or inhales a certain type of enemy. Each form Kirby takes on has numerous unique moves and abilities, enough that you could build a separate game out of them (which, in fact, is exactly what they did, but we’ll get to that later). There are a few new powers, such as the awesome Archer, along with numerous returning favorites. On occasion, you’ll find a spot where you need a specific power, but it’s never required to proceed, allowing you to take note and come back when you’re better prepared.
But foremost and most unique among them all is the new Hypernova power.
Periodically, you’ll come across a particular vine of the Dreamstalk which comes up through the floor and sprouts a Miracle Fruit. Ingesting this glowing produce turns Kirby into Hypernova Kirby, which turns Kirby from one tough cream puff into a nigh-unstoppable force of nature. Nothing which gets in his way can withstand his “maximum suckitude;” it may be a little overpowered, but there’s no denying that using it feels so, so good.
Part of the charm versus something like New Super Mario Bros.‘ Mega Mushrooms (which I do love) is how it doesn’t quite change the game, but rather, changes how you approach things. Mega Mario basically just walks right and crushes anything in his path until the time limit runs out, but Hypernova Kirby has no such limit, nor is he nigh-invincible. In addition to sucking up everything that isn’t bolted down (and some things that are), there are a lot of setpiece moments involving the Hypernova powers.
You’ll use the Hypernova to move large objects around, suck up enemies through a tube, build giant snowmen, swing wrecking balls, tear apart the scenery, and more, including a bit of payback against some annoying foes who reappear near the end of the game. My personal favorite (as seen above) comes when you encounter a group of Waddle Dees who reenact the story of “The Three Little Pigs,” but rather than blowing their house down, you suck up the straw and wood huts (just wait until you get to “brick,” though).
Another interesting addition to the gameplay comes in its use of 3D. While the Nintendo 3DS’s stereoscopic 3D is not at all essential (though it is occasionally handy), it is probably put to its best use in a 2D platformer to date here. I honestly felt like New Super Mario Bros. 2 dropped the ball in this department, while Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D put it to much better use– ironic, given it was originally developed for the Wii instead. But Kirby: Triple Deluxe is probably the best implementation to date, and definitely feels closer to the latter than the former in that regard.
Similar to titles such as Virtual Boy Wario Land, Mutant Mudds, and Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Kirby moves a lot between the background and foreground areas through the use of special Warp Stars found along the way. Enemies and traps have no such limitations, however, and some will attack from the background, while others will leap between planes, and still other traps will try to smash Kirby right against the screen.
It looks good, with a special focus placed on the plane you’re on, but also allowing you to peer into the back- or foreground to see items you need to get, or an enemy you have to chase down and intercept to get a key. It really adds a nice layer of depth to the world without compromising how you navigate it.
One other item I’m compelled to note (and can’t find a better place for) is that the game does occasionally call for you to use the Nintendo 3DS’s gyroscopic controls for some light tilt-based controlling. It works well enough, but neither adds much to the game, nor detracts from it. It’s just sort of there, but fortunately, it doesn’t come up too often.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe‘s main quest is a bit easy, but then, Kirby games have never been about challenge (though there are some bosses who put up a decent fight). The game doesn’t even save the stock of lives you’ve accumulated, yet I never found that to be an actual problem.
That said, the game is balanced extremely well: The levels are just long enough to make you wonder where the end is, yet short enough to leave you wanting more. Each world takes around an hour or so to clear, making the game seem relatively short compared to other offerings, but it never feels padded for length. It’s solidly built, doesn’t overstay its welcome, and by the time you reach the end, it just feels satisfyingly right. Truth be told, I wish more games were made like this.
Though it’s easy, it’s not as easy as “push right, win game.” Rather, it manages to compel you to do what needs to be done so you can just keep going and see what comes next. The selection of screens here do a poor job of showing it, but the game is extremely varied in the number of things you’ll do and see on your journey, and it’s never dull. Much of this comes in the various unique set pieces and encounters you’ll find along the way, from the aforementioned Hypernova Kirby segments to trains speeding out of the background and fighting shield-carrying dragons.
Overall, the game isn’t as varied as Kirby Super Star, also known as Kirby Super Deluxe in Japan, but it does offer plenty to do. In addition to collecting all of the Sun Stones in the main quest, there are a ton of keychains to collect. These are similar to the trophies in Super Smash Bros. games, with each keychain representing a Kirby form or character from previous games throughout the series, many in 8- or 16-bit, and some even in black-and-white, giving a nod to Kirby’s debut on the original colorless Game Boy.
Each keychain is well detailed, featuring stamps from Nintendo and developer HAL Labs on the back, and move with their own physics based on how you’re tilting the system. You can also do… something with them involving StreetPass; nothing I’ve found makes it very clear. One would assume some sort of trade is involved, but I can’t say with certainty.
Beyond the main game, you can also square off against the computer or other players (via local wireless, and with Download Play if need be) in a mini-Super Smash Bros.-like mode called “Kirby Fighters.” In this mode, each fighter chooses one of Kirby’s many powers and squares off until there a victor remains.
King Dedede gets in on the action, too. “Dedede’s Drum Dash” is a rhythm game which has the royal rascal hopping from one drum to the next, grabbing emblems and avoiding enemies. He is also playable in “Dedede Tour,” a version of the main game unlocked after completing it with Kirby. Dedede travels the same stages, but doesn’t have to collect Sun Stones; rather, this story doubles as a time attack mode, complete with its own online leaderboards. Even if you don’t care about that, just playing as Dedede is fun, as he is basically a tank, tearing through foes who might slow Kirby down with a glorious ease.
Finally, beating the main game also unlocks the Arena Mode, which is basically a boss gauntlet. As with Dedede Tour, you can compete for the best times and scores here, which you can then post to online leaderboards and share via StreetPass.
Overall, Kirby: Triple Deluxe is a must-have, in my opinion, and is one of my favorite Nintendo 3DS games to date. The graphics are colorful, simple yet still terrifically detailed, with personality stuffed into every possible place. The game is just so full of character that it’s difficult not to appreciate, even when it’s something like lumberjack Waddle Dees dancing to celebrate chopping down the tree that just nearly hit you.
The soundtrack is excellent, too. It’s very catchy and upbeat, and even reminds me a bit of Capcom’s Street Fighter Alpha titles in how jazzy it can get at times. There are some familiar tunes as well, including a menu screen theme which should be familiar to some Super Smash Bros. fans.
I really cannot recommend this one enough. If you live for challenge, then this one might not be for you, and some have smacked the game down for it. Personally, I feel challenge isn’t everything, and if I was going to dismiss games I didn’t find challenging, I would have to do so to such titles as Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Metroid— widely regarded as three of the best Nintendo games, if not just three of the best video games of all time.
If you get the opportunity, definitely try this one out. It may be short compared to some of the games out there which try to break into triple-digit play times, but this one is worth every single second. In fact, I kind of hate having to put it down so I can get to Mario Golf: World Tour and NES Remix 2, but I suppose I’ll manage (and come back to this one later).
A review copy was provided by Nintendo of Canada.