It’s really unfortunate that Kirby tends to be forgotten by players more than Nintendo sometimes, as while people clamor for Nintendo to release games that aren’t Mario, Zelda or Pokemon titles (a sentiment I don’t share, I love those franchises!), Kirby has seen numerous releases in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse for Wii U, Kirby Triple Deluxe, and now Kirby: Planet Robobot, both on the 3DS. Rainbow Curse and Triple Deluxe were both very strong entries into the Kirby universe, but I can quite confidently say that Planet Robobot trumps them both. All Kirby games are crafted in very much the same way; simple, lush designs with bright colours and delightful characters (including the titular pink puffball we’ve all come to love), level designs that are simple to breeze through, but rewarding to those who want to comb through every small detail and boss battles that are joyous to even the most cold-hearted. Every Kirby game tends to have a twist, however, and Planet Robobot is no different in this regard, with the twist being the dirty great mech that Kirby is seen piloting on the cover art of the game. All of the elements come together very well in Kirby: Planet Robobot, making it a very easy game to recommend to any 3DS owner.
One of the most appealing factors to any Kirby game is Kirby himself. For such a simplistic character, Kirby is emotive, expressive and down right adorable. If you don’t smile at least a little bit when Kirby does his little dance at the end of the level, there may not be much hope in this world for your blackened heart! Along with his sickly sweet cuteness, the ability to copy the attacks of almost any foe Kirby comes across is another reason to fall in love with him. There are over 20 different copy abilities in Planet Robobot, including some that are more than nods to other nintendo franchises (I’m looking at you, Sword, Doctor and ESP!) and all of them are enjoyable in their own right. They all offer entire movesets rather than just singular moves, and as someone who was a big fan of Kirby Superstar back on the SNES, it was a delight to see some of the returning copy abilities from back in the day. There were some missing ones from Kirby Triple Deluxe however, like Wing and Beetle, which seemed a little odd, but ultimately was barely noticeable. One thing to note here though, is that it’s well worth playing with any Amiibo you have as you might come across some copy abilities you didn’t even know were in the game. (Try out Kirby himself, Meta Knight, and King Dedede for interesting results!)
The aforementioned copy abilities all make Kirby varied, powerful and a joy to play, but Kirby has been able to do that since Kirby’s Adventure back on the NES. The star of this particular show is the Robobot Armor, which has copy abilities all of its’ own. Almost any ability that Kirby could gain for himself can also be gained for the Robobot Armor, practically doubling the number of copy abilities present in this game. Much how a lot of Megaman’s appeal comes from his ability to steal abilities from those he defeats, Kirby’s sheer volume of things he can do is very much a positive note for Planet Robobot. You will often find yourself looking forward to finding enemies once you’re sat in the pilot seat of the armor, wondering what abilities and visual changes will be bestowed upon the mech. When I first saw the cover art for Planet Robobot, I wasn’t entirely sure mech robots would sit right in Kirby’s world, but having played through the entire game, trust me when I say that it most definitely does. If you didn’t feel powerful by just devouring enemies and copying them, the Robobot Armor might be just what you were looking for!
Kirby Triple Deluxe has left its mark on this game as well, with levels being built up into multiple 2D layers for Kirby to progress through, meaning that the foreground and background are much more interactive in this platformer than is usually seen. This is most prominent during particular parts of the game, including a train level that only auto-scrolls when you’re in the background, remote control robot sections where you have to keep a keen eye on a robot mirroring Kirby’s actions in the background, meaning you have to be aware of your movements both in the foreground and background, or a stick that extends long enough for Kirby to interact with both planes simultaneously. Most of these mechanics are introduced in order for Kirby to access secret rooms and can be ignored entirely, but it would be a crying shame to do so, as the level of interactivity with the levels themselves is an absolute joy to behold.
As enjoyable as it is, Planet Robobot isn’t the most challenging of games, which could be a turn off for some, but it more than makes up for it with the number of different modes and unlockables given throughout the game extending its lifespan long after the story modes 8-hour long affair. The most prominent of these is Meta Knightmare Returns, in which you can play through a condensed version of the entire game playing as Meta Knight rather than Kirby. Meta Knight is a fan favourite of both the Kirby and Smash Bros franchises, so it is a very pleasant diversion to play as the winged swordsman, who plays drastically differently from Kirby, having no ability to devour his enemies or copy them, instead relying on his speed and power to progress. the Arena mode from various other Kirby entries also makes a return here, which is a significantly more challenging mode than the story mode, so gluttons for punishment might find more than they bargained for with this boss-rush survival mode.
Collectibles are a big part of almost any platformer, and Kirby: Planet Robobot definately delivers on that front, with a plethora of things and secrets to pick up throughout the game. The code cubes, which are in part necessary to finish the game are relatively easy to find (though there were a couple that took me a while), but there are stickers that can be used to customise the Robobot Armor that are at times, very challenging to find and some extra secrets, including what are known as HAL rooms (named after the Kirby games developers) being much harder to find without the use of YouTube or a written guide!
Kirby: Planet Robobot is difficult to resist once you’ve spent even an hour with it. You will find yourself looking for every copy ability, collectible, additional mode and hidden room almost uncontrollably. The delightful visuals, catchy soundtrack and loveable characters all add up to an extremely strong entry into the 3DS library. It isn’t the most challenging of games, but the variety present in Planet Robobot is impossible to ignore, and its’ charm will win you over almost instantaneously. This is a 3DS title it would be considered criminal to ignore.