3DS review: Kirby: Triple Deluxe

The pink puffball makes his debut on Nintendo’s 3DS in Kirby: Triple Deluxe, a platformer which utilizes the 3D gimmick to a wonderfully full extent. Levels are designed with both foreground and background areas, and small warp stars within each stage act transport Kirby back and forth. Though the story of Kirby: Triple Deluxe is not as complex or carefully scripted as in his other recent outings on the Wii or DS, the game certainly deserves recognition for taking its style and presentation into creative territory more akin to a Final Fantasy title that the typical Dreamland fanfare.

While King Dedede is incorporated into the story and Waddle Dee offers Kirby health items prior to each boss fight, the core game is focused almost exclusively on Kirby himself. Plenty of familiar power-ups return, and the fact that fire, ice, leaf, cutter, and so forth all remain almost entirely unchanged is for the best – there’s no point in fixing what isn’t broken. The new power-ups are a bit of a strange mix, but most work fairly well. The bell allows Kirby to create sound waves with a small range that, when used in rapid succession, effectively creates a small barrier around the pink hero. Beetle works in a similar fashion to fighter, allowing Kirby to pick up and throw stars or foes with the horn spike, as well as granting him flight. Circus is the odd one out, as it feels like an unnecessary hodgepodging of attacks all offered by other long-established abilities.

Some levels will grant Kirby access to the Hypernova ability, which changes him to a rainbow color scheme and increases both the strength and range of his inhalation significantly. No longer is Kirby limited to sucking up footsoldiers or blocks – now he can uproot trees, pull back wrecking balls to knock down stone walls, and even devour large worm-like enemies. This Hypernova power may border on ridiculous, but its use is required for those wishing to track down all of the game’s sun stones or 250 collectible keychains. Plus, seeing huge portions of the environment get torn apart is quite entertaining.

In a highly unexpected turn of events, Kirby: Triple Deluxe utilizes the 3DS’ internal gyroscope in ways that hardly any games before it have. Tilting the system left and right allows Kirby to move faster in gondolas, and are used to solve many of the game’s puzzles. The boss fights, though few and far between, have also seen major improvements. While it has been a longstanding tradition to pit Kirby against some variation of Whispy Woods early in any of his adventures, Triple Deluxe takes everything you have come to expect from that fight and turns it on its head. Each and every end-level boss encounter is wonderfully realized, and collectively rank among the best in the entire Kirby series.

A couple of other modes are available from the outset, including a multiplayer versus match and rhythm game that features classic Kirby tunes. The boss battle gauntlet run of the Arena makes a return, and upon beating the main story mode, players are granted the option of performing a time-trial revisit all of the stages as King Dedede. Like most Kirby titles before Triple Deluxe, these modes are nice afterthoughts, but at the end of the day, the core game is what best represents the overall product. And boy, does Triple Deluxe shine as one of the best entries in the series. In truth, the game’s one major flaw is that it feels a bit short, especially following on the heels of the Wii’s Return to Dreamland. That said, if you are looking for a well-designed and just plain fun platformer, Kirby: Triple Deluxe delivers in a handheld fix that does an exceptional job at incorporating the 3DS’ definitive design points.

My rating: 9.25 (out of 10)

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