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Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS) artwork

Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS) review


"The Kirby formula is rather time-worn at this point, but this is still one of his finest adventures to date."



Ever since I was a kid, I've had notions about how a game I would design might look. There have been a few possibilities. The main one features a cartoon ninja running along grassy ledges at hyper speed, slashing enemies and scampering along moss-covered logs and such. In one level, he dashes along the rooftops of a city. Sharpened pendulums swing back and forth. For the player, each swinging hazard moves toward the screen and then into the background, then back again. The ninja has to jump across openings as the threats recede.

Kirby Triple Deluxe cribs that idea. The ninja is gone, replaced by a floating pink marshmallow with red shoes and a bottomless stomach, but obviously the development team had to change some things in order to prevent me from suing Nintendo for mind theft. The miscreants weren't content to stop there, though. They kept expanding on the concept, adding backdrops that crash into the foreground, enemies that fire at you from distant ledges, stars that warp you into the backdrop and much more. They've executed it all so beautifully that in the end I had no choice but to forgive them their heinous crime.

Everything looks terrific, and the third dimension manages to enliven the gameplay. Triple Deluxe is very much a 3D title--one of the most impressive that I've seen on the 3DS handheld and one of the first to truly justify the gimmick--but it controls every bit as tightly as any Kirby title to come before it and you never have to grapple with a camera. You might say it offers the best of both worlds.

The developers put the 3DS hardware to use in other ways, as well. Sometimes, you'll enter a puzzle room and find a cannon waiting to be fired. So you light a fuse and jump into the cannon as flames burn along a rope. Then you have to tilt the system back and forth to move the rope so that it finds additional lengths of rope and burns along a path that will eventually fire the cannon. In another instance, you have to tilt to pour water on flames, or you have to move the 3DS around to aim shots at enemies appearing from the background. Such diversions aren't especially common, but they occur often enough to show that someone wanted the game to make proper use of the platform.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land was a great experience on Wii, I thought, even though some people were disappointed that it didn't feel as innovative as Kirby's Epic Yarn. It was a straightforward affair, and Triple Deluxe captures virtually everything that made it great while adding a few prominent twists. In addition to the clever hardware use, this new game also lets players gobble down Miracle Fruit that allows them to then inhale and interact with much larger enemies and pieces of the environment. There's some great stuff here that I wouldn't want to spoil for you in a review. None of it goes out of its way to astound, but it all feels intuitive and I never found myself growing frustrated or confused by anything the developers thought to throw my way.

There's also plenty of collectible loot. Most stages feature keychains, which you can collect for no reason other than that they look cool and reference previous Kirby titles you might remember fondly. A lot of stages also contain a single rare keychain, which is a lot more difficult to find but serves the same purpose as its more common brethren. Finally, there also are sun stones, which energize area gates so that you can pass through them and face boss encounters. Special secret levels are only available if you take the time to fully explore levels and unearth everything, but there are plenty of standard areas to keep you busy if you don't feel like conducting a scavenger hunt.

Boss battles are substantial enough to warrant a special mention, as well. In one level, I fought a variation of an enemy that has been familiar since the very start of the series: the oversized tree known as Wispy Woods that blows gusts of wind and drops explosives from its branches. As I battled that fellow, I felt confident that I was more than ready for any attacks he might mount. Then he pulled all sorts of new tricks out of the air and even some stuff that made use of the multiple 2D planes. Other bosses do the same sort of thing, and you're almost doing yourself a disservice if you defeat them too quickly and miss out on the chance to wrangle with their surprisingly deep attack sets.

The elephant in the room is that Kirby games aren't typically difficult enough to challenge veteran players, and that's something that remains true. I never saw a "game over" screen, and finished with a stock of something like 40 extra lives. Kirby is powerful and can fly over the bulk of his challenges. He can gulp down plenty of enemies and use their abilities--including sword slashes and boomerangs and many others--but he's powerful no matter what his current state. Checkpoints are also frequent, and only the final boss puts up a real fight.

When you reach the end of the game, you also unlock additional content, including some that will likely inspire you to play through the levels all over again. There's other stuff too, with a multi-player component for the competitive among you. The additional content adds longevity to a game that frankly didn't need it, because there are around 40 stages to work through and that's enough to keep most players busy for a good long while (especially if they don't use my Kirby Triple Deluxe guide to make finding all that loot overly easy).

Whether you've been enjoying games in the series since the initial release for the original Game Boy, or this is your first exposure to the pink puffball outside of maybe a Super Smash Bros. title or two, Kirby Triple Deluxe is a refreshing romp through a vibrant, active world. It won't astound anyone with spectacular innovation, but it's some of the most fun you can have with a platformer on the 3DS and I recommend that you not miss it.

Rating: 8/10

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Staff review by Jason Venter (June 10, 2014)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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