The lights are on
Ah, Kirby. The name alone reassures you you're in for a light-hearted, fun-filled romp through colorful worlds, cutesy sights and sounds that make your inner child go "d'awww." He's had many adventures throughout the years since his inception in Kirby's Dream Land, but no adventure left me feeling like I wanted much more from it than Kirby: Triple Deluxe did. That's not to say it's a bad game, no, far from it. However, being a long time Kirby fan I was left wishing there was a tad more challenge and more things to do.
To start things off, I will say I was very impressed with the game's visuals. Kirby looks terrific on the 3DS, and the environments are just as impressive. The controls, while they do take a couple levels to get used to, are never intrusive. The music and little Kirby grunts are irresistible. And once the journey begins, it's a blast.
The story is typical Kirby fare, but with a new beast of a villain. The story takes off when a giant "dreamstalk" grow underneath Dream Land and takes off into the sky, breaking off various landmarks and taking it up along with it. Among these landmarks are Kirby's home and King Dedede's Castle. For once, we find that the antagonist isn't King Dedede but a giant bug known as Taranza, who actually takes Dedede hostage. Long story short, it's up to Kirby to save Dream Land once again.
Each level in the game has a familiar formula to it, getting to the end of the stage and solving small puzzles to find unique Sun Stones to unlock more levels and sometimes the Boss stages. To find more Sun Stones, some clever thinking is required, and clever they are. In this Kirby adventure, thanks to the motion sensor inside the 3DS you'll have to tilt the handheld in order to point a rocket at some blocks, or to move a platform left or right. This doesn't happen all the time but when it does, it definitely separates this Kirby outing from the rest.
In addition to finding Sun Stones, there are also hidden key-chains to discover. These key-chains represent different icons from Kirby's robust history in gaming. Some key-chains resemble different forms that Kirby has taken over the years, and others resemble enemies in his various games or even bosses, such as Dynablade from Kirby Super Star. While these don't add to the gameplay in any way they do make for more replay value if collecting is your sort of thing.
Some levels in Triple Deluxe contain a type of fruit known as the Miracle Fruit, which gives Kirby the new Hypernova ability. Once Kirby collects it, he keeps the power-up for the remainder of the level (or until death, in which case another one becomes immediately after revival). Hypernova is a cool power-up which gives Kirby extraordinary inhaling power. While using Hypernova, Kirby can inhale large (or large numbers of) enemies, and can also use this ability to his advantage to solve a number of puzzles, or in some cases collect Sun Stones.
Upon starting the game, there are two other modes available; Kirby Fighters and Dedede's Drum Dash. Out of these two, Kirby Fighters is a mini-game that is most deserving of its own stand-alone eShop download. It's a Smash Bros.-like brawler where players choose different Kirbys with unique abilities such as Sword Kirby or Hammer Kirby, and participate in a free-for-all type of fight with other Kirbys. They become harder as one progresses from level-to level, until the final round where players fight against themselves. It's actually very fun.
Dedede's Drum Dash, on the other hand, is dull and nearly pointless. In this mode, players progress through four levels of Kirby-themed songs where they must get King Dedede to the end on a line of drums, collecting points along the way while keeping with the rhythm of the music. It requires a lot of practice and patience. Those elements aside, I just don't understand why it deserves a place in a Kirby game to begin with. Upon completing the main story, a mode opens up where players actually play a "Boss Rush" of sorts as King Dedede, which is pretty cool actually, but very challenging.
Being a handheld title, I guess it's unfair to expect a fully-fleshed out and robust platformer in the liking of Kirby's Adventure and Return to Dream Land. However, with the throwaway Dedede's Drum Dash taking place of what could have been more levels in the main story I think it is fair to say that a little more Kirby action would have satisfied me. Some levels require a lot of repeat playthroughs, which may satisfy some but can drive others crazy.
Count me as one of them I guess. Kirby: Triple Deluxe is the handheld Kirby game I've wanted to play for years now, but I guess my expectations were a tad too high for it.
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