Out of all of Nintendo’s vast portfolio of franchises, the two most versatile in my opinion have always been Mario and Kirby. Generally speaking, Mario would have main platforming titles that would innovate and change the landscape of the gaming industry, but the series would also have plenty of spin-off titles as well. Mario would encompass sports, puzzles, and even the role-playing genre. Kirby on the other hand, would offer those spin-off ideas and gameplay, but would feature these elements in a main Kirby title. HAL Labs is never afraid to bring fresh ideas to the Kirby franchise, and Kirby: Triple Deluxe continues this style of thinking. New powers, tougher bosses, and focus on 3D gameplay mechanics makes Kirby: Triple Deluxe another must-own title for 3DS owners.
In many of their first party titles, Nintendo is focusing on how 3D can have a meaningful impact on the gameplay in the experience. For years, 3D has come and gone in the consumer electronic and film industries, and has never been able to remain a necessary element in those experiences. The past few years have shown that numerous companies were willing to give the technology a shot once again, and Nintendo believed in it so much that it made it a staple in their 3DS hardware. Earlier Nintendo titles attempted to showcase 3D gameplay mechanics, but Kirby: Triple Deluxe encompasses the unique features of the 3DS in almost every aspect of the game. All of the levels were designed with both a background and foreground. Such a small introduction of multiple planes in the title ends up making a huge impact on the platforming. In previous games, Kirby just had to continue pushing right and would eventually complete a level. In Triple Deluxe though, enemies shift between the background and foreground, and Kirby must navigate both planes to discover all of the collectibles and conquer the bosses. While this mechanic certainly changes how a Kirby game is played, it can still be enjoyed without the use of the 3D on the 3DS. This felt like a noble effort to not only acknowledge the technology, but also to include it in the fundamentals of the game. But if Kirby: Triple Deluxe cannot show that these 3D elements are absolutely crucial to the gameplay experience, then I don’t think any game can.
Returning once again are also Kirby’s copy abilities. Fans of the series know that ever since the Kirby franchise has introduced his copy ability, it has become the core to both the games and the character. Kirby can inhale enemies and copy their ability, giving him a new set of attack and moves. Out of all the new and returning abilities, the Hypernova power is the most impressive. Kirby can collect giant seeds during certain portions of the game, and doing so will unlock the Hypernova ability, which allows for Kirby to swallow just about anything on screen. Common enemies, bosses, and even portions of the stage can be swallowed by Kirby. Even though nobody is quite certain where those things end up going. Unlocking the Hypernova ability gives players a massive feeling of invincibility, and the portions of the game where it can be used are pretty exciting. The catchy music in Kirby: Triple Deluxe mixes well with making him able to devour large enemies and stages.
To go along with new abilities, there are also several new game modes. Kirby Fighters is the clear standout here, and plays like a very light version of Super Smash Brothers. Each character takes one of Kirby’s abilities, and has a fighting style created around that power. Rather than dealing with percentages and floating mechanics like Smash, Kirby Fighters gives players a health bar. Every fighter plays like Kirby, and since characters have hit points and the stages are pretty small, this mode serves more as a cool time killer from the story mode, rather than a Smash clone. King Dedede also has a time-attack based story mode, which was also pretty fun. Rather than utilizing abilities to complete levels, King Dedede takes his hammer and multiple attacks through the game in a much speedier manner. All of the other game modes offered were a nice change of pace from playing through the main portion of the game, and they also add replay ability which is nice because Kirby games are generally pretty short.
Platformers in the video game industry are few and far between. There are several large series that are a part of the genre, and many indie games have a focus on the idea, but gamers have slowly gravitated towards other genres in the past generation of consoles. Nintendo has always been an essential player in the platforming genre, with their mascot character, Mario, constantly starring in fantastic platforming games. Kirby games normally also exist in this genre, and Kirby: Triple Deluxe follows in this lineage. The biggest difference between the Kirby and Mario franchises however, are the controls. All other platforming games are immediately compared to the Mario series because of the high quality of the titles, and the absolutely perfect controls. Kirby: Triple Deluxe on the other hand is a little harder to control. He appears to be stiffer and his movements aren’t as fluid. Since the boss fights require more dodging and movement than in the past, there were times where the character was a pain to control. The controls, while not as good as other Nintendo games, don’t take away from the experience however, because the focus on Kirby’s abilities differentiates the series from others.
Boss fights have always been a staple in the Kirby franchise, and Kirby: Triple Deluxe features the best and most challenging boss fights in the entire series. I was pleased to discover that the major boss fights have included the new gameplay mechanics, and have done so effectively. HAL Labs demonstrates how the use of both the foreground and background can increase the difficulty and strategy required in boss battles, but still keep them true to the Kirby franchise. There are some returning bosses of course, but they have been remixed to the point where they feel entirely new. The final boss fight really impressed me more than anything else. There was a lot of creativity put into the conclusion of the story, and I hope future installments continue this trend.
Nintendo’s 3DS continues to build up a strong library of exclusives, and Kirby: Triple Deluxe adds another must-play title to that lineup. Although the controls are a little stiff, the new boss battles, multiple game modes, and the Hypernova ability all add to what makes Triple Deluxe a really fun game to play. Both newcomers and longtime Kirby fans will find a welcoming experience with his latest adventure.