It won’t take long to realise that Kirby Planet Robobot is an experience to cherish. After the pink star warrior wowed the world in Kirby Triple Deluxe, HAL Laboratory has welcomingly taken the chance to meticulously craft another adventure with the adorable Planet Popstar life-form.
Where Triple Deluxe had seen the Nintendo mascot race to rescue King Dedede when the Dreamstalk unsuspectedly grew from underneath Dream Land, Planet Robobot sees Kirby rush to defend Planet Popstar after it is invaded by the Haltmann Works Company and their robotic army. That will see you quash mechanised enemies as you lay waste in your quest to neutralise their multiple bases, which have acted as beachheads in their effort to overpower the planet’s panicked inhabitants.
It is an adventure that is bursting with character, and one that continues to more playfully experiment with player perspective. As perfectly stylised as we have come to expect from the Japanese developer, each of the Worlds that you wander is as captivating as the next. Where Patched Plains will see you run through industrialised grassy surroundings, Resolution Road places Kirby in a city setting where you will be dodging cars that drive toward the screen as much as the enemies that wander the streets.
That visual design is the key ingredient that really makes Planet Robobot stand out from the crowd, perhaps even as much as it did with a certain portly Italian plumber’s debut on Nintendo 3DS in Super Mario 3D Land. Laser beams zap in multiple directions, screws can be turned to rotate scenery, and hammers will mercilessly swing toward and away from you – Kirby slamming into the screen if you misjudge your timing to safely dodge them. With stereoscopic 3D enabled, it can frequently astound.
Layered stages continue to shift the player’s attention between the foreground and background with 3D Warp Stars, exploring each as they overcome the enemies and obstacles that they encounter. Batteries can be carried to power teleporters and saws to carve open new paths, while a Game Boy-shaped controller will let you to expertly guide a miniature robot that mimics your movement on the opposite plane.
Kirby’s well-known Copy Abilities return, but it is the Robobot Armour that proves to be a mechanised highlight. With more weighty punch and slam attacks as standard, it has the more lucrative Scan Specs ability that lets you analyse enemies in order to power up. These can be seen as more potent Copy Abilities, whether that be unleashing charged energy shots or razor-sharp blades.
There has been a commendable effort to integrate amiibo, which sees certain Copy Abilities only unlocked by letting Kirby delightfully inhale them in-game. Those that own the Kirby amiibo from the Super Smash Bros. Collection can become Smash Bros. Kirby, which is the first time that it has appeared since Kirby and the Amazing Mirror. Whereas the new Kirby Collection amiibo will let you access unique Copy Abilities and change Kirby’s appearance to mimic King Dedede, Meta Knight and Waddle Dee, while the new Kirby amiibo will let you use the UFO ability to float mid-air and destroy foes with Heat Beams. You can scan an amiibo as many as 10 times per stage, so there’s certainly room to try out as many Copy Abilities as you can.
But it is when the Robobot Armour transforms that the magic happens. The Jet Scan Spec lets Kirby’s new toy enter Jet Mode, starting sequences that will temporarily turn the game into a shoot-’em-up, whereas the Wheel Scan Spec triggers Wheel Mode and turns you into a car to race across the stage. This helps to diversify Planet Robobot away from being simple platforming fare, and provide some standout moments to enjoy.
With each World, players will be required to collect enough Code Cubes hidden within stages to disable a barrier that blocks your path to the boss. These expectedly act as collectibles, and, while I never needed to replay stages to simply hunt out more for progression purposes, will elongate your play time for those wanting to gather everything they possibly can.
While there is some repetition with bosses and a relative ease to besting them, their execution is phenomenal in the way that they put the hardware to use. That it can surprise and delight so much even after five years is incredible, and a testament to the creative ingenuity that HAL Laboratory display when at the top of their game. It’s an unstoppable tour de force.
Longevity is expanded with stickers, which are scattered in each stage. These were more interesting to collect, each inspired by the pink hero’s illustrious history. It is also where StreetPass has been worked in, Planet Robobot players exchanging ranking information while automatically swapping stickers that they have collected in Story Mode.
Continuing to deliver more than just a base game, players can also enjoy the Kirby 3D Rumble and Team Kirby Clash minigames. One is a three-dimensional puzzler that sees you inhale enemies and objects to carefully spit at others to achieve the highest score you can. While the other is a multiplayer action game where you can team up on quests to defeat bosses, either with the CPU or other players in Download Play or Local Play.
Beyond completion, you can also turn to The Arena to challenge your Kirby prowess, which lets you tackle a boss rush mode of sorts. While Meta Knightmare Returns see you, as the name implies, playing as Meta Knight. The goal here is to race your way through the levels before you, switching from more explorative gameplay to that which instead sees you concentrating on maintaining pace.
Bursting with kaleidoscopic colour and packed with HAL Laboratory’s creative touch, Kirby Planet Robobot results in being a sensational adventure for the pink hero.
Version Tested: Nintendo 3DS
Review copy provided by Nintendo