Although having the best part of three decades of gaming experience under my belt, there are some iconic franchises that I’ve somehow managed to avoid having all that much contact with, and the Kirby series is one of them. Despite growing up in an era where Kirby games were a big deal, my first time actually playing any of the titles in the franchise came with the launch of the Wii Kirby compendium, Kirby’s Dream Collection – and none of those titles were particularly new recent, so you could say I was coming into this review knowing just north of nothing about the series and the character... Something which has proven to make the Kirby Triple Deluxe experience all the more blissful.
We’ve prattled on about it in the past, but Nintendo systems really have become the spiritual home of all that is great about side scrolling platform games. Despite the genre almost fading into obscurity in recent years, Nintendo has been busy at work with a string of top notch releases, doing everything it can to show that there are few gameplay experiences purer than a well executed 2D platforming romp, and Triple Deluxe might just be the most enjoyable one for quite a while.
Quite frankly, the entire experience is nothing short of delightful. Everything here from the beautifully colourful palettes used through to the catchy music and glorious gameplay is magnificent, and it serves to make me wonder why on earth I didn’t get into this whole Kirby thing a long time ago.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe features, as the name suggests, three different games on a single cartridge, however the main attraction is undoubtedly the Story Mode portion.
In this mode, players will guide Kirby through Dream Land in a bid to rescue Dedede, who has been kidnapped by Taranza, an odd blighter who wields magical powers and isn’t particularly fond of Kirby’s interference in his nefarious plans.
The action takes place predominantly as a 2D side scroller, however players will have the ability to move in and out of the screen to different layers thanks to the use of Warp Stars, which allow for some interesting puzzles (although few of which are all that difficult to figure out, it must be said). That’s not the only twist on traditional gameplay that developer HAL Laboratories has implemented here, with the studio managing to find a use for just about every one of the 3DS’ functions, including the gyro which traditionally proves to be more of a pain than anything else, but works quite well here overall.
Elsewhere, the gameplay remains true to the tried and tested platforming formula, with Kirby’s abilities keeping things fresh at every turn. Players can utilize his trademark suction attack, enabling them to fire captured enemies at destructible objects or foes, while his unique ability to float makes exploration of the levels a real joy. Sadly, that’s one area that the game falls down in, with the levels a little too linear and closed-off to really encourage players to veer away from the beaten track – but if you’re intent on collecting all the Sun Stones, you’re going to have to think a little outside the box at times.
Our hero has a selection of 24 copy abilities available this time around, and each one offers players a different way to tackle enemies, as well as the environment. From the more well-known abilities like the Beam or Sword to brand new ones like the Archer, there’s a well-rounded repertoire of skills for players to enjoy as they play.
Also new is the Hypernova ability, which sees Kirby’s suction powers supercharged, enabling him to hoover up just about anything in his immediate vicinity, which is great for finding routes to hidden chests or doorways, as well as dispatching meaner foes.
Even newcomers to the genre should have little problem making their way through the first half of the game’s six worlds, but the difficulty does manage to gradually ramp itself up, and sterner challenges definitely await in the second half, especially for completionists who are aiming to collect everything the game has to offer.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe’s Story Mode, although potentially a little short if you’ve got plenty of platforming experience, is as enjoyable a romp as you’ll find anywhere these days. It might not have the same level of challenge as Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, but it’ll definitely keep you glued to your 3DS screen until you’ve found everything it has to offer.
And once you’re done, there are two more games for you to get stuck into.
The first of these is Kirby Fighters, a Super Smash Bros. style fighting game where players will take their own Kirby and customize him by selecting from the Story Mode’s 24 copy abilities before taking on an assortment of other Kirbies. In single player it’s a little dull, but add some more human players into the action and it really explodes into life. Not only do you need to worry about your opponents, but the game’s stages will throw up plenty of surprises to shake things up, and the result is some truly frenetic action.
It’s definitely not as in-depth as standalone brawlers, but it’s a great time waster, especially since the game offers Download Play for friends who lack their own copy of the game – although online multiplayer would most definitely have been a welcome addition here.
The third and final part of the Triple Deluxe triumvirate is Dedede’s Drum Dash, a curious rhythm game that seems a little forced at times, but quickly comes into its own once you start to figure out some of the nuances of getting around in time with the beats, and ultimately provides a fun bite-sized distraction from the other two game modes should you fancy a change.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe might have slipped under the radar for some, but it’s truly a brilliant gameplay experience that’s got enough variety to keep players hooked for weeks. Although the two side games might not be quite as in-depth as the main story mode, they’re still perfectly suited to the handheld format and will serve you well on long (or short) commutes.
In terms of sheer value for money, there’s practically nothing out there on the 3DS that can hold a candle to Triple Deluxe, especially for fans who still can’t get enough platforming action!