A charming, imaginative, if elementary platformer

Jon Mercer
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Kirby: Triple Deluxe
3DS

I’ve never been what could be considered a true fan of Nintendo and Hal Laboratory’s famed “Kirby” franchise. For the benefit of those just joining us, this is due to lack of exposure to Nintendo’s original Gameboy when i was in the proper age demographic.

Kirby bops again in Nintendo’s “Kirby: Triple Deluxe.” — Submitted image

I am, however, a staunch supporter of platformers, and while I personally think that the Kirby series is much too lackadaisical in the challenge department, even for children; I would be a fool to deny the palpable imagination in “Kirby: Triple Deluxe” that stretches the seams of the game, ever threatening to burst free from the 3DS and spill all over the floor in a glittery, colourful, marshmallow mess.

Lost the thread

After about four hours, and just over three worlds conquered (if Kirby is capable of such a thing), I couldn’t begin to tell you what was going on story-wise. Something about a six-armed wizard/jester dragging a plump duck/penguin up a magical beanstalk with the titular pink puffball in hot pursuit.

What I can tell you, however, is that Kirby has been spending a little bit of time in the gameplay gym since the last time I had seen him. The levels seem just a little longer, and just a little more involving. There are puzzles that border on being genuinely clever. I even found myself exiting a level and restarting when I botched an environment puzzle and cost myself a Sun Stone or key chain.

Kirby seems to take more damage than he has in years, adding a much needed sense of urgency. And whereas previous games pitted players against stationary bosses with less attacks than could be counted on one hand, “Triple Deluxe” has end-of-world baddies that never seem to run out of surprises, most of which use 3D tricks to deliver some sweet visual treats.

Whether it’s a tentacle reaching out of the screen, or streaks of paint obscuring the battlefield, or forcing players to retreat into the background to avoid a devastating lightning strike — younger players will certainly be kept on their toes in a most thrilling fashion.

Visual flair

Also impressive is the overall design of the levels. Hal has taken some pages from Mario’s playbook, and bolstered Kirby’s lethargic pace with some fun puzzle-based platforming set across multiple planes and delivered with a crisp visual flair.

Gamers will be able to copy more than 20 skillsets, each with several options for attack and defence, depending on what direction is pressed, or if he is airborne, or running. It’s an impressive array of abilities, but none so mighty as the brand new “Hyper Nova,” which sends Kirby into multicoloured overdrive. He is able to inhale just about anything, taking in giant chunks of debris, and sometimes the entire stage background.

This is used to create set pieces and puzzles that are far and above anything seen in the Kirby franchise before.

It’s tons of fun to watch massive trees and giant trains get caught in the event horizon and spiral around before they are inevitably swallowed. The puzzles centring around the Hyper Nova are always a treat, and make up for some of the best levels in the entire game.

Of course, it’s called “Triple Deluxe” for a reason; a pair of extra games have been included to pad the playtime past the main campaign.

First up is a Smash Bros inspired brawler called “Kirby Fighters” that has up to four players picking from their favourite in-game abilities and throwing down. The second is “Dedede Drum Dash,” a short, uninspired sprint across four short levels with a rhythm mechanic to add a little extra challenge.

Neither offer much more than a few minutes of distraction, especially since Kirby Fighters doesn’t work online. Then there’s a couple of boss arenas to unlock, and an Extra Mode that casts players as King Dedede and throws in extra enemies to punch up the difficulty.

Kirby fans should be able to pull 20 hours of enjoyment out of “Triple Deluxe” with little effort, but keep in mind that the breezy difficulty limits its appeal to younger gamers.

“Kirby: Triple Deluxe” is a charming and imaginative, if elementary, platformer that blows a gust of fresh air into a two-decade-old formula and proves that with a little imagination and some beefier level design, there’s no reason that a pink bundle of fluff can’t play with the hop ’n’ bop big boys. It looks great, plays well  and, more importantly, is a solid title for younger gamers to enjoy.

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Developer: Hal Laboratory

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date: May 2, 2014

Rated: E for Everyone.

Email Jon Mercer

at  thejonmercer@gmail.com.

Organizations: Sun Stone, Smash Bros

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