Of the many enduring characters Nintendo has created it’s surprising to realize that I had never played a Kirby game. That has now changed. For the past week or so I’ve been playing Kirby: Planet Robobot. So what do I think of my first adventure with the cute pink ball? Read on.
"I would love to have a robot at home." - Hugh Jackman
Kirby: Planet Robobot opens with his home planet, Pop Star, being invaded by robots. King Deedee is defeated. Meta Knight is defeated. Kirby is napping. Yes, he slept through the whole invasion, but he’s awake now and ready to put everything right.
The story is sparse. After the introduction, you don’t pick up another piece of the story until Area 3. There the final boss is Susie, who informs Kirby that his planet resources will be taken by her boss’ company and all its inhabitants destroyed. There is more, but I won’t spoil it for you.
"You don't want to stand too close to a robot arm; it can turn your head to mush." - Daniel H. Wilson
Long time players of Kirby games will know the familiar game mechanic of Kirby inhaling enemies and copying their powers. Added to Kirby’s arsenal this time around is a robotic suit that he can acquire at certain points within levels. This suit seems to be an indestructible juggernaut, at first. Kirby jumps in, uses his copying powers and magically, the robotic suit becomes an overpowered monstrosity. It just takes one over confident moment to make you realize the error of that line of thinking. The suit is used for more than just brute force. Within those areas where the suit is used are puzzles specifically tailored to its abilities.
The levels are what really shine here too. Hats off to game developer Hal Laboratory. The level designs are almost pure genius. Never at any point in the game was I bored, nor were any levels a seeming repeat (e.g. same background design with different colors). Another nice touch is that while most levels are in the platforming style, some levels took on aspects of other types of 2D side scrolling games. For example, in one level the suit became a rocket and the level becomes a bullet hell style shooter. Well maybe not quite a bullet hell shooter, I'm terrible at those, let's call it a bullet heck shooter. In another level, the game used mechanics unique to the 3DS tilt feature. You put Kirby into a hanging gondola and tilt the 3DS to move it along its route.
The levels also were not limited to a single 2D plane either. Often there came a point where you would have to flip into the background of the level and activate switches or manipulate a piece of the environment. In some cases, you had to work on both planes. There was one level where you pick up a remote control that lets you guide a small robot on another plane. You have to guide it to switches to open sections that allow you to move past blockages and vice versa. As I said before the level designs are brilliant.
My first outing with Kirby and company was pure fun. Kirby: Planet Robobot has a lot of enjoyment built into it and re-playability. Besides nearly 200 stickers to collect to decorate your robot suite, the main story can be replayed in Meta Knightmare Returns mode. This is the same story only the difficulty has been notched up and you play as Meta Knight instead of Kirby.
There are also two mini-games you can play. The first is Kirby 3D Rumble, in which you battle wave after wave of baddies in small areas and rack up combos to boost up your final score. The next is Team Kirby Clash, a co-op RPG-lite game where you and some friends (or A.I. bots) fight a boss battle. You have your choice of four different Kirbys (Sword Hero, Hammer Lord, Dr. Healmore, and Beam Mage) to fight with. With each, after the battle, you gain experience points and level them up. In both Kirby 3D Rumble and Team Kirby Clash, you can go back and replay each area to better your high score.
Kirby: Planet Robobot will keep you busy for a while. I found it somewhat easy, but a lot of fun to play with plenty to keep me coming back. I give Kirby: Planet Robobot a 4.75 out of 5
Kirby: Planet Robobot is rated E for Everyone for Mild Cartoon Violence by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).