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RR-sama Review: Kirby goes robotic in Kirby - Planet Robobot!

Kirby goes full mecha in his latest adventure on the 3DS! But does it stray too far from formula?

Hello and welcome to another RR-sama Review! Today we'll be returning to the world of Pop Star in Kirby: Robobot, the latest Kirby title to grace the Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo has been quite experimental with the Kirby series as of late, ever since the mixed reviews for Kirby: Squeak Squad. Seeing as there's only so much you can do with a pink puffball that eats enemies to absorb their powers, it's only understandable that the company wants to experiment. We've seen Kirby turn into yarn, replicate himself en masse, and even become subject to the whims of a stylus-drawn road. Now Nintendo has decided to take a more traditional approach, but this time they've added a new mechanic to the game: the Robobot Armor.

Will this new mechanic (no pun intended) breathe new life into the traditional Kirby formula? Or will the addition of a mecha prove to be a worthless gimmick? Read on to find out!

The Plot

Pop Star is under attack! In Kirby: Planet Robobot a strange mechanical invading force has come to conquer Kirby's home. King Dedede and Meta-Knight try to stop them with cannon fire, but it's clear that the invaders have the superior technology. As such, the job is left to Kirby once more to stop these invaders from destroying the world.

The plot continues on in classic Kirby fashion: go through the first area, fight remixed versions of classic bosses, and slowly make your way to the "true enemy" that isn't Dedede. It's all good fun, and the cinematics that play from time to time are fun to watch.

The Gameplay

For the most part, Kirby: Planet Robobot plays just like any other classic Kirby game. You got your infinite ability to float, your sucking/eating ability, and - of course - your ability to absorb the powers of your enemies. Your classic abilities are here as well, such as Sword Kirby (above), Spark, and more.

There are also new copy abilities such as Doctor and ESP, which mix up your methods of attack. ESP turns Kirby into a Ness wannabe, stealing many of the Earthbound character's abilities from Super Smash Bros. It even comes with the cap!

Meanwhile, Doctor turns the beloved pink-puff into a pharmacist, performing all sorts of strange experiments and throwing pills all over the place. Doctor Kirby is in essence the UFO Kirby of this game as each direction causes Kirby to use a different attack. His down + action ability is particularly useful since it causes him to perform various elemental abilities; a useful tool for puzzle solving.

Amiibo functionality for the New 3DS also allows Kirby to copy the abilities of various characters. Fire Emblem characters, for example, will give Kirby the Sword ability. Ness and Lucas give Kirby the ESP ability. Trying out different amiibo can be just as fun as playing the actual game, and it doesn't break the game either. It's just pure entertainment.

As always, the new copy abilities are neat, but don't really make any big changes in terms of gameplay. What does, however, is the new Robobot Armor.

Kirby goes full Mecha... and it works!

Okay, here's another disclaimer: I love mechas. However, I never thought I would love mechas in my Kirby game. While I was a full-on skeptic about the Robobot Armor in the trailers, it actually makes for some interesting gameplay in-game. The reason? It changes up the stage design, allowing for more complex puzzles than in previous games.

The reason for this is none other than the Robobot's advantages and limitations. While in the Robobot, Kirby has the ability to destroy numerous objects that his tiny body couldn't possibly do on its own.

For example, one particularly interesting puzzle in the first area of the game had Kirby using the Robobot Armor to lift a block with a wire attached, as seen above. If a player wanted to retrieve the Data Cube required to unlock the boss level they would have to lift the cube and bring it to the next split wire to complete the circuit. This would have to be done multiple times before eventually the electricity would trigger a door.

Other puzzles require players to carefully decide when they want to use the Robobot, and when they want to be on foot. For these sections, specific stations will allow Kirby to dismount or board his mech at will. Sometimes players will need to backtrack on foot or in the mech to do so, and the problem solving aspect (while not particularly intense) is innovative for the series.

These puzzles are also used for stickers, which are used to customize your mech. Before getting carried away, customization lovers, I should warn you that you can only use 2 stickers at any time - one for each arm. They have infinite uses, but you need to collect duplicates if you want to cover both sides with the same one.

That said, stickers are fairly common, with only a handful or so of them being exclusive to a certain stage or unlock condition. They can also be bought with play coins - a 3DS function that hasn't seen the light of day in a while.

The Robobot transformations are pretty cool too. Each is based off of the original Kirby abilities, except they are twice as powerful, and much more flashy than their original counterparts.

One last point: if you were worried that it would overtake the gameplay as a whole, worry no more. The best part of the Robobot is that it isn't an integral part of the game. For those of us who expected the Robobot to be in every single level, we were right. However, it isn't by any means required outside of the first area, which acts more like a tutorial for the Robobot's capabilities. Its only function is to open up new puzzles and pathways.

The Bosses

Many of the bosses in Planet Robobot are inspired by those of previous games. Clanky Woods, for example, is based on Whispy Woods. While he shares many superficial similarities to Whispy, Clanky is actually a 3 stage boss. After taking a certain amount of damage, a short cutscene will take place. Each cutscene leads to a new attack pattern, as well as new opportunities to attack.

Considering the fact that most Kirby titles leave the multi-stage battles to the final bosses, this is actually one of the most interesting parts of Planet Robobot. If you were a fan of boss battles, I would recommend this game for just this part alone.

Last words...

Most Kirby titles don't last longer than a day if played straight. This is not the case for Planet Robobot. The casual player going through the game for the first time will likely miss out on some treasures, stickers, and data cubes on their first run through a stage. As a result, the time invested in Planet Robobot is actually longer than most Kirby games.

Assuming you collect everything on your first attempt, it will likely take you at least 2 hours to 100% complete the first area. There are more than 6 areas in the game (at least one for each leg of the machine seen above), and plenty of secret stages to be unlocked by collecting all the data cubes in an area, so be prepared to punch in to the game a few more times than you typically would.

As for the game's difficulty, I would say that a Kirby veteran will likely breeze through the game. You'll probably take a knick or two over time, but most of your deaths will likely be a result of falling down a pit you wanted to explore more than anything else.

Presentation

Uploaded images captured from the 3DS truly cannot capture the beauty of this game. While it may look somewhat pixelated here, the game looks great, even on the stretched screen of a 3DS XL system. This, of course, is partly due to the simplicity of the art in Kirby titles as a whole.

What really makes Planet Robobot stand out is the use of the 3DS hardware. When in 3D mode, the stages pop out of the screen splendidly. The image above, for example, will showcase just how deep the system's 3D imaging can go. When played on a New 3DS system the game plays at a steady high frame rate as well, meaning that you won't have to worry about any frame drops while in 3D mode.

Stage design is also beautifully done. While most stages are still the typical 2D adventure we expect from the old school games, sometimes Planet Robobot will feature 2.5D sections that show just how far the series has come since Kirby's debut on the Game Boy in 1991.

The music is also quite grand, featuring many remixes of classic songs with a robotic/techno theme. The music never sounds out of place, and the upbeat tempo makes the game feel like it's moving faster than it actually is.

Side-Games

Kirby: Planet Robobot comes with two other mini-games for players to enjoy. One is a single player game, and the other a cooperative multiplayer boss rush.

Kirby 3D Rumble

Kirby 3D Rumble is a top-down 3D arcade game. It uses many of the basic Kirby gameplay mechanics in an arcade-style game where the objective is to gain as many points as possible. Doing so involves sucking up enemies or objects, and then spitting them out at rows of enemies in an attempt to hit as many as possible in a combo. Other methods of getting points include faster completion times, and collecting coins.

Team Kirby Clash!

Team Kirby Clash is a multiplayer game that involves 2-4 players cooperating via local wireless or download play with one cartridge. It's a simple class-based beat-'em-up boss rush, and there's very little else to say about it. There's about 8 different bosses to face, and as you defeat bosses you will level up your characters to increase their stats. It's a fun distraction, but hardly anything worth gawking over.

The Verdict

Kirby: Planet Robobot is a fun little platformer. The new gameplay mechanics will likely bring some joy to veteran players, even if only temporarily. Meanwhile, it remains true enough to the basic Kirby series formula that it still functions as a child's first platformer for the kids. They may not get all the way to the end of the game, but they're sure to enjoy it just as much as adults did when they picked up their old Kirby titles. If you - or someone you know - loves Kirby games, they'll likely get at least a solid 20-30 hours out of this game.

That said, if you're looking for a difficult platformer, this game isn't for you. It's fun, and the difficulty does increase over time, but the game at its hardest is no Contra or Metroid.

For its whimsical nature, and fun to pick up gameplay, Kirby: Planet Robobot gets a 8/10 from your good ol' RR-sama.

Note: This game was reviewed using a free review copy on the Nintendo New 3DS.

Our Rating
8
Kirby goes full mecha in his latest adventure on the 3DS! But does it stray too far from formula?
Reviewed On: 3DS
Published Jun. 13th 2016

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