Playing Kirby games for me has become what Rocky Road ice cream is for the newly single.
Playing a Kirby game is a comforting experience, making me reminisce to times when it’s best to just sit back and relax with something you can expect simplicity and familiarity from. Kirby: Planet Robobot is what you would expect from newer games in HAL Labs’ crown franchise. There is the old familiar Kirby formula with some sort of gimmicky twist to justify a new release. We’ve seen Yarn Kirby, Mega Kirby and this newest installment introduces us to Kirby piloting a mecha.
As mentioned before, this game does follow the same path as previous games. You play as a pink ball that has a hunger issue and can swallow anything and everything out of reality, stealing its power for personal gain. Even though I’ve played pretty much every Kirby game up to this point, the core gameplay still managed to remain imaginative and set up enough set pieces that required both pre-emptive planning and quick reflexes. There are also a few new abilities added to the mix in Robobot, such as the ESP and Mirror abilities, which serve up some interesting gameplay options.
The biggest gameplay addition is Kirby’s ‘Robot’ mode which the titular titan pilots around stages. It is a robot form that can absorb abilities and become incredibly powerful. Unlike the gameplay hooks of previous titles in the series, the robot form is surprisingly deep. It is not forced upon the player at all during the stages, but is nicely tied into the level design. Many secret paths require the suit. Not only this, but Kirby’s new toy can absorb enemies just like its pilot. This really helps the level design excel and adds a nice amount of variation and experimentation to the game.
Kirby games don’t tend to put much effort into an excellent narrative, which it can get away with being a platformer where fast-paced gameplay takes the lead. Robobot was a slight surprise in breaking this trend, with a compelling story that involves evil corporations using Kirby’s home planet as a source of exploitable energy. It’s all comically driven, never borders on melodramatic, and provides a genuine message after the credits have finished rolling.
Kirby: Planet Robobot delivers well in terms of it’s aesthetic and graphics. Each stage adheres to a cohesive theme and this aids in keeping the gameplay smooth and enjoyable. All the gameplay models look crisp and animations run at a smooth frame rate (a stable 60fps if you are playing on a New 3DS console).
The game was also one of the first 3DS titles in a while that compelled me to turn my 3D mode on, with the depth being nearly essential to get through certain levels and bosses without much issue. The sound design, on the other hand, was typical for a Kirby game, the majority of the music isn’t entirely memorable, but well balanced and relevant to their respective moments nonetheless.
Despite all this, the game is somewhat short, with my playthrough of the core game coming in at around 4–5 hours, which included hunting out most collectibles. There is still reason to play through certain levels multiple times in order to acquire all of the ‘cubes’ that unlock an additional stage in each world. As is the tradition with the Kirby franchise, there are a small slew of extra game modes to try out. These range from a time-attack version of the main game starring metaknight to a 4-player co-op RPG brawler.
Kirby: Planet Robobot is a decent return to classic form for Kirby, bringing with it an excellent gameplay addition in the form of its namesake and game design that is thoroughly enjoyable. It might not be the deepest game in the world and it definitely won’t push you far, but it is definitely a title even hardened platformer fans should check out for a fun time.