Developer: HAL Labratory, Inc.
Review Context: I’ve played Kirby’s Dream Land (GB) full and have played a few others briefly, but have not played a Kirby game in a long time.
Date of Playthrough: June 2016
Kirby: Planet Robobot is a side-scrolling action-platformer about an adorable pink ball named Kirby. One seemingly normal day Kirby’s home planet is attacked by a mysterious robotic vessel which begins turning everything to metal. Kirby quickly jumps to action and right into another adventure, only this time, there are mech suits baby!
For those who don’t know, Kirby can run and jump just like any platformer, but Kirby can also fly. By simply mashing jump Kirby can float anywhere and everywhere. Kirby’s most iconic ability though is the ability to suck up enemies and eat them to gain their powers. Kirby: Planet Robobot boasts a decent variety of abilities, like a sword with a bunch of high-flying combat moves, control over ice or fire, or even the telekinetic powers of a certain striped shirt boy. If Kirby gets hit hard enough or if the “drop ability” button is pressed then Kirby will revert to his normal form and the ability will become a bouncing star. This can be re-sucked up and swallowed in order to regain the ability or spit back out as a powerful attack. Otherwise, the power star will eventually disappear.
Kirby: Planet Robobot adds a new ingredient to the formula with mech suits. Along the way are suits which Kirby can jump into. Once inside, Kirby can run, jump, and punch with the power of technology. Kirby can even digitize enemies and turn the mech into a different form based on the enemy, just like Kirby’s consume and copy ability. These different mech form abilities aren’t as versatile as Kirby’s versions, but they come with mech suit strength. There is some cause for caution though because while in a mech suit, Kirby can no longer fly and will only double jump before plummeting downwards so, ya know… watch out for that.
The controls are tight and responsive. Each ability comes with a full move list if the game is paused. Handy, as some abilities can do over ten different moves. Kirby’s jump and float ability can take some getting used to, as you have to press B to let out air in order to fall quickly, but it works fine. You can even hit enemies with a puff of air as you do it to knock them away. The mechs handle fine and are thankfully not annoyingly slow or anything like that.
Though fun, the mech suits feel very much like a gimmick. Kirby only gets a mech suit when one is found, and Kirby can only leave the mech suit once a docking station or the end of the level is reached. Unfortunately, as a result, the mech suit doesn’t feel like a tool at your disposal. It feels like certain levels have mech segments that are somewhat removed from the rest of the Kirby platforming. There are areas that can be crossed with or without a mech suit, since you can choose not to jump in one or miss it entirely, but the mech suits never really affect the Kirby formula. Due to the fact that one doesn’t affect the other, and the game decides when you can get in and out of the mech suits, they don’t mesh at all with the Kirby formula.
Despite that, using the mechs is fun. Though not mixing with the Kirby side of the formula, it does help to make the game a little more complex, which is good for anyone who isn’t a ten-year-old, like me. It’s fun to rocket punch enemies in the face and see what all the abilities do to the mechs. Some of the ways that the mechs interact with the world are creative and entertaining. Never over staying their welcome, the mech suits provide a fun excursion on your happy-go-lucky Kirby adventure.
Kirby: Planet Robobot’s main story consists of 6 worlds with levels that have three code cubes somewhere inside them, just like Mario’s big coins, and a bunch of boss and mini-boss fights sprinkled in everywhere. A certain number of code cubes are required in order to fight the boss, but if all the code cubes in a world are collected then a bonus level will open. Just like in other Kirby games, once the main story is completed other game modes are unlocked. These include Meta Knightmare Returns, where the player plays as meta knight and attempts to get through the story mode as fast as possible. Meta Knight can’t absorb people, but he can absorb energy and spend it on 4 abilities; a speed boost, a heal, a powerful slash, and a screen clearing super attack.
Then there is Team Kirby Clash, where players pick a class and battle against bosses with up to 3 other AI’s or people. These classes level up in a mini-RPG style and allow the player to upgrade their class’s stats. There is also Kirby 3D rumble, where Kirby is placed on a board and enemies are spawned in. By sucking them in and spitting them out, Kirby can defeat them and get bonus points for hitting multiple in one shot and a multiplier for not missing. Then there is The Arena, where Kirby can fight all of the bosses in a row as one big gauntlet.
Meta Knightmare Returns is very exciting, and even though it’s technically just all the story levels in a row, playing them as fast as possible is surprisingly enjoyable, especially with Meta Knight’s speed boost ability. Team Kirby Clash is fun enough playing solo and not too long to be arduous to complete, but with people it is a fun romp with surprisingly deep combat. The Arena is a welcome challenge, as the combat is so enjoyable that giving the player the opportunity to just do that is worth while. Kirby 3D Rumble is a fun score attack mini-game and not much else. Lastly, after all those things are completed the True Arena will be unlocked. This is a boss gauntlet where the player has to beat upgraded versions of every boss in the game with one health bar and only minimal healing in between fights. This is so hard I still haven’t beaten it, with my best attempt ending on round 10 of 12.
Kirby: Planet Robobot stays true to the classic Kirby cuteness but gives it a very futuristic theme. As the name suggests, everything is robots and machinery. Even the levels are things like trains or are made of pipes. It’s all cartoony, colorful, and generally pleasant to behold. The music can be jarring sometimes, but overall is exuberantly happy and fun. There are also stickers that can be acquired in a couple different ways, like being found in a level, a reward for playing other game modes, or even getting a perfect score on the end level mini-game. These fun little pieces of art come from all over the Kirby franchise and can be applied to the shoulders of the mech suit. There are even rare golden stickers that shine in the sticker book.
Kirby games tend to focus more on combat and puzzles than their less adorable counterparts, since being able to fly makes platforming a lot easier. The fun comes from using a wide assortment of different abilities to casually clobber enemies and circumvent obstacles. Though certain segments require specific abilities and certain puzzles can only be solved by certain abilities, for the most part, you can use whichever abilities you enjoy the most. The game does a good job of making sure that if you need a specific ability to solve something, then there will be one of those enemies near by so you can get it. The level design is solid, making heavy use of the foreground and background as different paths, especially playing with how mechs and abilities can affect both planes.
Kirby games traditionally aren’t very hard, and for the most part, Kirby: Planet Robobot is no different. Kirby: Planet Robobot has some difficult bosses, but is generally forgiving in terms of lives and respawns. However, with the True Arena and trying to get the best times in Meta Knightmare Returns, there are a few challenges for the hard of heart. Tight controls, fun music, and loveable art, Kirby: Planet Robobot never stops being fun. Unfortunately, I am not as experienced in the Kirby field as some fans, and I get the feeling that this entry might not add enough variance for those types of players. If someone came here looking for innovation then I can possibly see them being disappointed. Though possibly not revolutionary enough for veterans of the franchise, I believe it is still a well made and enjoyable addition to the Kirby franchise.
Similar Games Liked:
New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS)