Kirby: Triple Deluxe

EDGE - - GAMES - Pub­lisher Nin­tendo De­vel­oper HAL Lab­o­ra­tory For­mat 3DS Re­lease Out now (JP, US), May 16

3DS

HAL hasn’t made a 3DS game since AR free­bie Face Raiders, but Kirby: Triple Deluxe shows it’s lost none of its in­fat­u­a­tion with the hand­held’s fea­ture­set. It’s the first plat­former since Su­per Mario 3D Land to make you want to nudge that 3D slider up and leave it there, with in­tri­cate lay­ered worlds that long to be given ev­ery bit of depth the de­vice can muster. Spring-loaded hands erupt from the screen, Kirby hops on stars to warp from fore­ground to back­ground, and en­e­mies un­tether them­selves from mun­dane 2D paths.

It could be tacky, and is at times, but Triple Deluxe’s Story mode is suf­fused with a rare vi­brancy. Its six worlds whip you from meadows to dusty plains, then into sub­ver­sive mir­ror-backed fun­fairs, all on the path to a cas­tle with huge gem­stones for plat­forms. Even fire and ice are pepped up by HAL’s ex­u­ber­ance. Kirby has new copy abil­i­ties, too, and continues to make sim­ple in­puts work hard. He’s joy­ous to con­trol here: flow­ing, punchy and char­ac­ter­ful. Triple Deluxe is still se­date, but its game­feel is just so and Kirby’s a pow­er­house.

He might even be too strong. The game starts out triv­ially easy, at least for adults, and only gets re­motely threat­en­ing in late-game boss bat­tles. HAL would rather stretch its grown-up fans with the light puz­zles and Hypernova Kirby is used to gulp down en­e­mies many times your size, in puz­zles and even boss fights. The power’s limited to pre­scribed ar­eas, but slap­stick an­i­ma­tions and vis­ual flour­ishes stop these sec­tions get­ting stale timed chal­lenges that pro­tect its col­lectibles, it seems. The for­mer are great, be­ing easy to de­ci­pher but of­ten de­mand­ing in ex­e­cu­tion, test­ing but never frus­trat­ing.

Since bosses are your only real op­por­tu­nity to show off your pow­ers, though, it’s dis­ap­point­ing to see them reused in late-game boss rushes. The fi­nal world feels rushed too – a best-of tour that stretches smile-rais­ing nov­el­ties thin. The in­ven­tive mul­ti­stage fi­nal en­counter more than makes up for it, even if it seems pitched above the young au­di­ence the rest of the game courts.

The story, how­ever, is only one mode of five. Two are unlocked af­ter the cred­its, and add longevity to an al­ready lengthy ad­ven­ture. The oth­ers – Smash Bros- lite arena brawler Kirby Fighters, and rhythm-plat­former Ded­ede’s Drum Dash – are less as­sured. With a hand­ful of cramped stages, chaotic items and im­bal­anced movesets, Fighters doesn’t feel worth gath­er­ing a group for. Drum Dash blends beat match­ing with crunchy tests of tim­ing and plat­form­ing skill, but while it’s di­vert­ing, it’s over too quickly given the learn­ing curve.

Per­haps it’s telling that the icons for Fighters and Drum Dash on the menu are that bit smaller than Story, sug­gest­ing HAL knows full well what its main at­trac­tion is. If the en­ergy spent on them had been used to hone the tale’s fi­nal hours, this might have been the best Kirby yet. As it is, his 3DS de­but is too un­even to be es­sen­tial, but too charm­ing for fans to miss.

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