It’s amazing how, after twenty-two years of games, that Kirby can still offer a fresh experience, despite never leaving the second dimension for his main titles. I love how Kirby, as opposed to Mario or Donkey Kong, regularly changes up the formula without losing what makes Kirby special and really shows off what can be done in a 2D space. Triple Deluxe doesn\’t shake up the formula drastically, as it sticks closely to 2010’s Return to Dreamland. What it does do, though, is make great use of the system’s 3D, offers a classic Kirby experience, and tons of alternate gameplay modes.
The main course of Triple Deluxe is its Story Campaign and this is the Kirby most people are familiar with. It opens with an adorable cutscene showing Kirby living his daily life of eating and sleeping. Once nightfall hits, a mysterious beanstalk takes Kirby’s house and King Dedede’s castle into the sky. A creature named Taranza kidnaps Dedede and it’s up to Kirby to rescue him. As always, the story in Kirby games isn\’t spectacular and Triple Deluxe is no exception; it’s only an excuse for Kirby to get to work. Across six worlds, Kirby will jump, swim, and devour everything in his way to his goal.
The game does start off a little too slow, as the first few levels are very easy and not memorable. They are designed to welcome newcomers to the series, despite Kirby campaigns always being on the easy side already. Once World 2 hits, it’s a steady climb in terms of quality and fun. I\’m amazed at how fresh Triple Deluxe feels, especially considering that Nintendo isn\’t shy of releasing 2D platformers these days. As a gamer who lives and breathes platformers, it’s great seeing some ideas and mechanics that I\’ve never experienced before. One example off the top of my head is in a certain level, Kirby will be on in front of a giant mirror that reveals the true nature of the level. What I mean is that the plane that Kirby is walking on may be blocked by “nothing,” but looking at the mirror will show a wall. Enemies may also be invisible, but they will show up on the mirror as well. It’s essentially a “lens of truth” mechanic in a platformer and it can be tough paying attention to Kirby and the mirror at the same time.
While the levels are fun to play through as is, Triple Deluxe contains numerous secrets and collectibles to continue fleshing out the game. Each level contains two to four Sun Stones, a few of which are mandatory to unlock the boss level. Most of these aren\’t too difficult to find if you keep an eye out, but others are intelligently hidden and made me feel good for finding them. In addition to these, there are over 200 keychains to collect. They can be found in levels, by StreetPass or purchased using Play Coins. Each one is modeled from a character from Kirby’s history and, while I love collecting trinkets in games, the fact that keychains are random does make it hard to collect them all. If you play the game enough times, you can collet them all, but it’s a bit disheartening to have 150, play a level to collect three, only to have them revealed as ones you collected already.
The 3D lends itself to gameplay in ways not seen since Mutant Mudds. Like Mutant Mudds, Kirby can jump onto different planes via Warp Stars. What’s different here is that the background and foreground can interact with each other. Enemies can attack from the background, obstacles can fly between two different planes, and some items can be used to attack enemies out of reach. One of my favorite mechanics with the 3D is that Kirby can be in the foreground holding an electric pillar that can attack enemies and blocks in the background. Blocks destroyed in the background can affect the pathway Kirby is currently taking. Gamers must be careful, though, as sometimes, a bomb block can be hit that can actually barricade Kirby from reaching a secret.
Even bosses make great use of 3D. One early boss starts off straightforward enough throwing paint at you, but then, he starts painting the screen itself to obscure your view. Another attack is that he pulls down a giant piece of canvas and hides behind it. His shadow can be seen and he follows your moves until he jumps out towards the screen. A similar boss also jumps to and from the background, but one move is that he\’ll breath fire and it\’ll actually leave scorch marks on the screen. The best part about the 3D aspect is that it doesn\’t feel like a cheap gimmick. Every level features Kirby traveling on different planes and enemies coming from all directions. It gives new life to a 2D platformer and I would love to see this continued and expanded upon in future titles from Nintendo.
Of course, Kirby’s main method of traversing levels is using his gut instinct. Kirby’s tactic to swallow his enemies and copy their ability is as prominent as ever. Some classic standbys return, such as the Sword and Fire, but new one,s such as the Archer or Bell, are great in their own right and fun to use. There are a lot of abilities and considering how a lot of them feature whole move-sets to learn and memorize, it can be a bit overwhelming to some players. While the game isn\’t too difficult, these move-sets offer freedom to the player, allowing them to choose how they want to play that game.
It is possible to use the basic attacks, but seeing Ninja Kirby use smoke bombs or Fight Kirby busting out Hadoukens from Street Fighter are a joy in their own right. Another new ability is the Hypernova, which is only available in some levels. It allows Kirby to swallow anything and while they do slow down the pacing slightly, it’s thankfully fun to use and it can be humorous watching Kirby swallow a moving train or an eel 100 times the size of Kirby. In addition to the flying and slide kick, Kirby can now block similar to Super Smash Bros. Holding down L or R will block and moving left or right will activate the side roll. Kirby can even air dodge as well. Speaking of Smash Bros. …
… another mode in Triple Deluxe is Kirby Fighters, essentially Super Smash Bros. with Kirby being the only character. Players can choose between ten different abilities and can either play solo in a “classic” climb-the-ladder way or play multiplayer with local friends. I\’m actually surprised at how fleshed out it is. There are several maps that take inspiration from Kirby’s past and they often have stage hazards, like Kracko wrecking havoc in Bubbly Clouds or King Dedede throwing his hammer and Waddle Dees in his boxing ring from the first Dream Land title. The soundtrack is equally nostalgic, with remakes of Castle Lololo and Dedede’s theme. Rounding out the history lesson is a slew of items from Kirby games like the Mint Leaf or Cannon Hat. Unfortunately, it does have some balancing issues.
Some Kirby powers have a few pages worth of moves, such as Fighter Kirby, while Bomb Kirby is essentially limited to throwing bombs. What this means is that, if you fight Bomb Kirby, he\’ll be limited to spamming bombs the whole match. Likewise, Parasol Kirby doesn\’t have many moves as well, but whenever I fought him, he usually spams his “dash + A” attack, which is powerful and quick to use. Playing as Parasol Kirby is relatively easy as you don\’t have many moves to remember and what you do have is powerful in its own right. The enjoyment I got from Kirby Fighters came from which ability I had. I enjoyed playing as Sword Kiby or Whip Kirby, but others like Ninja were frustrating. I rarely felt accomplished when I won and rage was quick to set in when I couldn\’t escape cheap moves from the NPCs. With friends, however, it can be a quick laugh, especially since it supports Download Play, but it’s not gonna take over the competitive fighting scene any time soon.
The third piece to Triple Deluxe is Dedede’s Drum Dash. It’s a simple musical rhythm game featuring Dedede as he bounces off drums and collect coins. I love this mode greatly as it’s addicting and fun. In my opinion, Kirby contains some of the best music in the industry, so it’s nice seeing a game mode to honour that. Dedede’s Drum Dash is simple — press A when landing to jump higher and press A at the peak of the jump to clap on the back-beat. Move with the left or right buttons to collect coins and avoid enemies. High scores are kept and four achievements are rewarded for completing tasks like taking no damage or collecting all the coins. Earning all four achievements will net you a Platinum medal. It’s not easy, as it requires rhythm and patience, but it’s very addicting trying to get that medal and “one more” try turns into ten. The downside? It only has four levels. While the tracks they picked are classic Kirby, they could have made so much more and, if there were more levels, I would seriously pay fifteen dollars for a downloadable eShop game featuring nothing but Dedede’s Drum Dash.
Upon completing Kirby’s Story Campaign, more gameplay modes will be unlocked, further driving the value up of the game. While I won\’t spoil the surprise of what they are, they are worth it and very fun. For those who think Kirby doesn\’t challenge, these modes are for you. I don\’t like admitting when a game made me angry, but one particular mode is a beast to complete, but it’s very satisfying in doing so. With all these modes, the asking price for Triple Deluxe is more than fair.
The cherry on top of this cake is the presentation. Kirby isn\’t known for pushing a system to its technical limits, but that doesn\’t stop Triple Deluxe from being a knock out. Bright colours, imaginative enemy designs, and wonderful use of 3D makes this a gorgeous game by any standards. When the 3D is turned on, the game truly shines with great depth and some “in you face” action. Knocking out boss enemies that fly towards the screen and hit it like a window is comically beautiful. Kirby himself is as disgustingly cute as ever, from his high pitch “hi” to the way he faceplants when he falls. Triple Deluxe is full of charm, as well as a great artstyle.
As I said earlier, Kirby’s music is in a class of its own. Triple Deluxe features tons of remixes from the classic Green Greens to the modern Techno Factory from Return to Dreamland. Some new tracks are also downright fantastic, which involve a creepy carnival theme and one of the best first stage songs I\’ve heard in awhile. It’s great that Kirby games always come with an unlockable sound test mode, as these songs are worth listening to regardless if gameplay is accompanying them or not.
Kirby Triple Deluxe is a delightful surprise. After a few boring levels, I thought 2D platformers were finally overstaying their welcome with me. After experiencing everything the game has to offer, though, I can say that Kirby knows how to win me over time and time again. With great use of 3D to expand on the tried and true formula, some great new power-ups, and fun gameplay modes that can be their own games if expanded upon, and you got yourself a winner of a game. While Kirby Fighters could have been more balanced and Dedede’s Drum Dash could have had more levels, what is here is all great and fun. When I\’m playing Kirby with the music on blast, all the issues just drift away. Whether he’s a Ninja or a Street Fighter character, whether he’s sleeping or eating a train, Kirby is fun boiled down to its purest essence. Even after twenty-two years, there’s still nothing quite like Kirby.