“First you draw a circle, then you dot the eyes. Add a great big smile. And presto, it’s Kirby!” It has been 22 years since Nintendo’s adorable pink ball burst onto the scene in Kirby’s Dream Land, in which time he’s found himself split into ten copies and cast into a world constructed with yarn amid his twenty-odd adventures.
It is perhaps diversity in approach that has seen the unsung hero build such a loyal fanbase, and that is no different with Kirby Triple Deluxe – players soon being able to witness one of his finest yet. Although this still remains a straight-up platform game, integrated with all the bells and whistles of the 3DS hardware, that allows it to set itself apart from that which has come before.
When a Dreamstalk suddenly lifts Kirby’s home and King Dedede’s castle sky high into the kingdom of Floralia, villainous, multi-armed mage Taranza makes an appearance and captures Dream Land’s self-proclaimed king. It’s down to Kirby to rescue his arch-enemy, clambering up the overgrown vine to conquer each of the floating islands that await in pursuit.
Kirby’s moveset remains largely unchanged if not feeling more responsive, relying on inhaling enemies to gulp them down to access Copy Abilities, firing Star Bullets, and inhaling air to allow you to hover around. There are four new Copy Abilities to enjoy alongside the regulars: the horn-charging Beetle, sharpshooting Archer, rattling Bell and balloon-popping Circus, which is a refreshing introduction if not entirely dissimilar to other abilities.
Where Kirby Triple Deluxe excels, is in the new elements of the game’s design. 3D Warpstars allow Kirby to fling between foreground and background, the game being intricately layered in such way throughout, with surrounding environments bursting with jubilant detail. Through such design, secrets reveal themselves in advance, fleeing enemies will race against you in the distance, projectiles will be hurled toward the screen, and fallen foes will be squashed against the screen once defeated. Hazards, such as roaring trains, will blisteringly make their way between the two, meaning that you’ll need your wits about you throughout your adventure.
It is this trickery through the visual depth that quickly makes itself resoundingly known as Kirby Triple Deluxe‘s greatest success, regardless of whether you use the handheld’s stereoscopic 3D to heighten its impact.
Meanwhile, gyro controls will see you tilting glass bowls to pour water onto stacks of flaming logs, or guiding gondolas along pre-determined paths. It isn’t necessarily groundbreaking but intertwines well with the broader experience.
It is Miracle Fruit that paves the way for Kirby Triple Deluxe‘s most striking addition, Kirby’s new Hypernova ability. This heightens the power of his inhalation skills, allowing him to suck up near enough anything that crosses your path whilst active. Rather than being a superficial power-up, this paves the way for puzzle-laden sections of the game where you’ll find yourself shifting slabs to block laser beams or even humorously reuniting snowmen heads with their bodies.
Your continual journey is reliant on collecting Sun Stones within each stage, a certain number being required before that world’s boss becomes unlocked for you to tackle. Bosses remain a clear highlight, stylishly delivered even if they’ll be relatively easy to defeat for most players. Nintendo serves up other collectables in the form of 8-bit style Keychains, with 250 available to gather that each has artwork inspired by past Kirby titles – reviving memories of the character’s quests to date.
Beyond the main story, players can look forward to sinking their time into Kirby Triple Deluxe‘s accompanying modes. Kirby Fighters can be more closely liked to Super Smash Bros., four Kirby characters brawling it out by using any Copy Abilities from the game. This is available through either Local Play or Download Play, dependent on whether your friends have their own copy of the game. It’s frantically furious, in a good way. And you can practice against the CPU if you’re looking to better your combat skills.
Dedede’s Drum Dash is a somewhat tamer if not more addictive experience. As you’ve probably already gathered from the name, this sees you bounce the penguin-like King across drums in time to whichever Kirby melody is playing. Pressing A when you land on the drum will let you perform a high jump, and you’re encouraged to hit the button again at the peak of your jump to clap on the backbeat. There’s ridiculous joviality to it all, but the low quantity of levels will disappoint.
StreetPass will see you exchanging ranking information whilst letting you receive further Keychains that any passersby have discovered, which are later picked up from Bandana Waddle Dee whenever you next cross paths. Aside from StreetPass, he’ll otherwise throw food at you to help restore your health whenever low which will prove useful in later stages.
Kirby Triple Deluxe is as much a technical extravaganza for the 3DS hardware as Super Mario 3D Land was nearly three years ago. Kirby truly shines here under HAL Laboratory’s perfected craftsmanship, ultimately seeing the developer deliver the handheld’s first blockbuster of 2014.