Despite all of the effort he’s put into saving Dream Land and its inhabitants over the years, Kirby can’t seem to buy enough time to dream himself. In fact, his latest adventure, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, even begins by disrupting his peaceful rest. Then again, heroes and vacation days generally don’t go hand-in-hand, especially in the video game industry.
Developed by HAL Laboratory as an exclusive for Nintendo’s 3DS and 2DS handhelds, Kirby: Triple Deluxe is yet another return to the hero’s side-scrolling roots. Its brief, five to six hour-long campaign focuses on the plight of an aerial kingdom and its magical beanstalk – a scenario that practically engulfs the unwitting protagonist. As we all know, though, Kirby isn’t one to allow others to suffer, which is why it comes as no surprise when he immediately jumps into action, in an attempt to bring an end to his newfound predicament.
Over the course of the game’s campaign — which is made up of six different worlds, each with its own set of themed stages — players will learn about the plight of the land above the clouds and its connecting plant. However, it’s worth noting that the full extent of this situation is not made public until the end of the game, when all of the pieces are put together through narrative means. From start to finish, there’s nothing Oscar-worthy about the plot or its presentation; however, it contains a bit more depth than the stories found in most platformers.
Gameplay-wise, Triple Deluxe is hit and miss, and rarely offers anything exciting. Despite being glitch-free and easy to utilize, its platforming mechanics are far from revolutionary, and the same is true of its combat, which tends to feel a bit dated. With that said, it’s the type of game that grows on you and starts to pick up steam as its conclusion draws near. However, that’s not to say that it becomes great and endearing before its credits roll. Instead, it falls just a few yards ahead of the line of mediocrity.
What becomes evident rather quickly is that HAL Laboratory’s latest effort is more of a basic, baby’s first platformer, than anything challenging or involved. Because of this, it can become rather tedious. Still, the game’s campaign did grow on me a bit as I progressed, albeit not enough for me to want to revisit it.
Each level tasks players with getting from point A to point B in typical, left to right platforming fashion. In-between entrance and exit points, they’ll find themselves needing to use the puffball’s unique abilities — including floating, slide kicking and absorbing enemies’ skills via inhalation — in order to solve basic puzzles, get past obstacles and find as many hidden sun stones as they can. Additionally, one must utilize the 3DS’ tilt sensors, so as to make use of gondolas, rockets and bowls of water, the latter of which seem to contain some sort of instant-grow formula.
Outside of its soothingly colourful, crayon-infused aesthetic and its impressive 3D effects, the most notable facets of Kirby: Triple Deluxe are its varied power-ups and secondary modes. Both list items provide appreciated, and much-needed variety.
We’ll start with the power-ups, which are both plentiful and helpful, as Kirby once again gets to become a master of disguise as he traverses through this new, vertically-positioned world. The Zelda-inspired Sword Kirby makes an appreciated return, but it’s rarely made available in favour of other options. It’s a list that includes elemental variations like fire, ice and electricity, and more unique flavours like a beetle headdress, an archer’s gear and a circus clown’s balloon animals.
I haven’t sugarcoated my thoughts and feelings regarding Triple Deluxe‘s main campaign, and have been somewhat hard on it. However, I want to reiterate that it’s not a bad platforming experience; it’s simply mediocre, and doesn’t stand out, nor does it present anything noteworthy or overly entertaining. I will, however, say that the most fun I had with the game came from playing its secondary game types, as opposed to its narrative-based campaign.
From the start, two different bonus modes are made available to players, and each one borrows from at least one other popular series. The first is a battle mode called Kirby Fighters, a Super Smash Bros. clone that uses Kirby’s different power-ups as character options. On the other hand, the second option is a jump-to-the-beat style mini-game, where players fight the clock as they move from one drum to another. Therein, the end goal is to collect as many coins as you can, while attempting to get to each course’s finish line in record time.
Both of the aforementioned mini-games offer reasons to return, but it’s likely that players will get more time out of the third bonus mode, because it allows them to replay the game — or, at least a hybrid of it — as King Dedede.
To conclude, Kirby: Triple Deluxe is not the great handheld platformer that fans of the genre have been pining for. As a sum of its parts, it’s slightly above mediocrity, and is simply too basic for many.
This review is based on the 3DS/2DS exclusive, which we were provided with.