KIRBY: TRIPLE DELUXE
Why Kirby’s belated 3DS debut has Japan tickled pink
T3D effects also help HAL to craft more inventive levels than we’ve become used to in Kirby’s past adventures, with stars carrying the rotund hero between different planes, while mirrored backgrounds reveal invisible enemies and highlight hazards and pitfalls hidden in the foreground. Later on you’ll race a Waddle Dee carrying a key to the end of a platform and grab a star to intercept him before he sprints off the edge.
HAL seems positively invigorated by the possibilities, and nowhere is this more evident than the first boss fight. Whispy Woods, usually the dullest and most static of end-of-level guardians, has had a technicolour makeover and a direct injection of energy. Halve his health bar and he uproots himself, he pioneers of 3D cinema revelled in the form’s novelty, keenly demonstrating its possibilities by bombarding audiences with objects that appeared to fly out of the screen. HAL Laboratory’s mascot is a late arrival to 3DS, and it shows: the developer uses similar tricks with unrestrained glee, as if it has only just discovered autostereoscopy.
Every level of Triple Deluxe features some kind of 3D effect, often objects or enemies flying from background to foreground. Spiked bars push their way out of your 3DS and railroad tracks carry locomotives that rumble toward your eyes. Giant hands attempt to squash you against the screen, while welltimed special attacks allow you to do the same to enemies. Bosses leap between planes and daub thick splashes of paint across the screen to hide behind. Reach the end of the level and, in a 3D twist on the post-stage cloud jump, a cannon shoots Kirby into the handheld’s depths. It may be a gimmick, but you can’t help but be swept along by the expertise and creative exuberance with which these tricks are employed. It’s one of the few games to truly demand that you move the 3D slider to its maximum setting; 2DS owners are undoubtedly getting a lesser experience. firing objects from a position of safety at the back of the screen before extending whip-like tendrils across it to trip you up.
The invention continues with the Hypernova ability, an occasional power-up that allows Kirby to vacuum up larger objects. With it, he’ll inhale rockets from a towering machine to spit back at its supports, and unearth turnips that arc gracefully into the flight path of feathered foes. It’s used to bring snowmen to life as you drag their heads back to their torsos, while a blast of suction power is enough to shift large rocks, unlocking new routes. The puzzles rarely extend beyond transporting an item from one place to another, but the aesthetic joy of the results compensates for the simplicity of the task.
And this is one of the platform’s prettiest games. Epic Yarn’s homespun aesthetic may be more striking, but Kirby’s world has rarely buzzed with quite so much life and detail. The 3D helps, but the animation is splendid, while fresh copy abilities offer further flourishes. As a rhinoceros beetle, Kirby can turn enemies into a squishy kebab. Circus Kirby bounces forward and back like a careening clown, the attack button used to produce balloon sculptures, a ball to balance on and juggling skittles to attack airborne enemies.
It’s less inventive than Power Paintbrush, but that’s hardly anomalous among firstand secondparty software on 3DS, since Nintendo’s apparently content to continue offering excellent takes on tested formulae. But with Mario, Zelda and Pokémon having come and gone, Nintendo will be hoping its second-tier franchises can raise their game. If the rest can match this for vibrancy, 2014 promises to be another good year for 3DS.
Two modes help fill out a generous package. One is a musical platformer starring King Dedede in which you guide Kirby’s sometime nemesis across a series of drum skins, dodging hazards and gathering coins to the rhythms of familiar themes. It’s fleetingly enjoyable, but in controlling both the direction and height of Dedede’s leaps, it can feel clumsy, lacking the elegant simplicity of Game Freak’s HarmoKnight. Happily, it’s joined by an accomplished Smash Bros clone that’s dubbed Kirby Fighters. This offers a series of increasingly challenging battles against Kirbys with other copy abilities as well as a local multiplayer battle mode that’s as frantic and accessible as the real Smash Bros.