Monday, August 25, 2014

Kirby 3D Falls Flat

Platform: 3DS   Genre: Platforming   Release: May, 2014 (January, 2014 in Japan)
Let it not be overlooked that I am one of Kirby's biggest fans (seriously, I was a winner of Nintendo's Kirby's Biggest Fan Contest on Facebook in 2012), so I understand that Kirby games tend to be relatively short and easy. But even though they're short and easy, they're still super fun. Unfortunately, even though Triple Deluxe borrows much from the fantastic Return to Dreamland, it generally fails to develop its new ideas into compelling gameplay and ends up being a bit underwhelming. Hold up though! Before I lose all my readers, let me also say that Triple Deluxe is by no means a bad game. It's just... average and not as good as it could be.

Ok, so, if you're not familiar with Return to Dreamland, it has a wide variety of new and old copy abilities, each with a Smash Bros.-esque variety of moves. Triple Deluxe does the same thing. Although a few abilities from Return to Dreamland don't return, there are also a few new ones to replace them and they're pretty unique and cool (Beetle and Circus, for example). Apart from using copy abilities to beat enemies and solve (mostly optional) puzzles, both games also have areas where you must carry objects like bombs or keys. Triple Deluxe adds a couple new holdable items as well, replacing that spiky boot from Return to Dreamland that probably no one will miss. The bigger difference between the two games are that Kirby can now jump between different depths in the level (only at designated points) and super abilities have been replaced with hypernova sucking.
This background-extending-into laser beam hits stuff in the background. Spiffy. (via cobanermani456)
That first big difference is worth digging into further. Not only can Kirby hop between different depths, but enemies and obstacles can as well - I especially enjoyed the reworked minibosses. There are also parts where actions in one layer will affect the layout of the background or foreground. All of this gives what I can assume is some impressive 3D eye-candy. (I can't actually see the 3D effect myself.) Unfortunately, while there are some cool concepts of foreground-background interaction, they hardly ever are taken any further than simple concepts. The level design is usually such that it'll be enough to make you say "huh, that's nifty", but then it'll be over so easily that you'll wonder if someone just drew up a proof of concept and it got put in the game that way. The hypernova segments are similarly disappointing. In these, Kirby gets the ability to suck really hard (lol) in order to inhale huge enemies and move objects. Once again, this usually results in simple eye candy and is practically a "press button to watch Kirby eat stuff" section. Not that Return to Dreamland's super abilities were much different in that regard.
Hmm... snowmen bodies... snowmen heads... what could you possibly need to do!? (via cobanermani456)
Like Return to Dreamland, Triple Deluxe also has a few hidden collectibles in each level. You're required to find some to get to each world's boss, but getting all of them in a world also unlocks new levels. Most are pretty easy to find, but finding them is at least a little satisfying. Triple Deluxe also adds collectible key chains with sprites from previous Kirby games. While trying to collect them all can be a grind, having them in the game allows for more secret areas that are more satisfying to find since they won't simply contain a 1-Up. So that's nice.
One of the collectible key chains. (via cobanermani456)
The length of the game definitely feels about a world shorter than that of Return to Dreamland and it lacks the super fun challenge rooms that its predecessor had, but it does have a few additional sub-games. First is Kirby Fighters, which is like a watered down version of Super Smash Bros.. You can go through it and fight against computers on varying difficulties with each (of a selection of) the copy abilities, or you can fight against friends. Since I don't have any friends, I couldn't try out the multiplayer, but I wouldn't bet on it being particularly balanced. Even though this sub-game is fairly bare bones, it's decently fun. The next sub-game is Dedede's Drum Dash, which is a surprisingly challenging rhythm game. It only has four levels, but it's well designed and incredibly difficult to do well. Next, The Arena (and True Arena) make a return. It's a boss rush mode, and this also can get quite challenging. And finally, there's Dedede Tour, which has you playing through a slightly harder version of the main game as King Dedede. Unlike Return to Dreamland's hard mode, this one strings the levels together and has warps to skip levels, making it more about racing to get a good time than anything else. There are also harder versions of each boss and a few additional bosses in this mode, but unfortunately, little else is changed to make this mode harder and not every level from the main story is represented.
Dedede Tour (via SunnyCrappy)
Also worth mentioning is that the music, while mostly recycled from previous games, is top notch as usual. The game also makes use of Street Pass to exchange records and give better healing items (not that you'll need them). Oh yeah, and there's some occasional use of tilting the 3DS to move stuff too, but it neither takes away or adds much to the game.

The final word:
I didn't want to listen to the reviews that said Kirby: Triple Deluxe was too easy. "Of course it's easy! It's a Kirby game!" I thought. But it's not the mere easiness which most Kirby have, it's a disappointingly unimaginative implementation of would-be brilliant gameplay gimmicks. There are good ideas in here, but they rarely realize their full potential. Overall, there is fun to be had with Triple Deluxe, but I can't recommend it at full price (then again, I rarely recommend paying full price for any game). Just trust me on this, I don't mind if games are easy and I love me some Kirby games, but in spite of its good gameplay mechanics and concepts, Triple Deluxe managed to fall flat with overly simple and uninspired level design.


Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Kirby: Triple Deluxe totally rips off Virtual Boy Wario Land, which is even shorter, but has better level design and is fantastic. And for another easy platforming game to which I gave a slightly more positive review, check out Felix the Cat on NES.

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