Frequenting recent trade shows, I kept pretty good notes on all the games that I played. Most were several paragraphs that explained how I felt in the moment I was playing the games as well as the specific things that I noticed about each game.
There was one peculiar game that didn’t have good notes, though. The notes I had for Kirby: Planet Robobot were simply: “KIRBY IS SMOOTH AS FUCK” and “Plays like the old school Game Boy games.” These were my gut feelings about the game. Although I only got a chance to play the first two levels in that demo I fell in love. When I actually got my hands on the full game I can’t help but say that I was fully blown away.
In Kirby: Planet Robobot, a strange UFO landed on Dreamland and has terraformed the planet to be exploited by a strange new enemy. Many of the enemies shown had been in one way or another affected by the rapid overnight technological developments. The purpose of this invasion and resettlement of its populous was completely unknown. Ultimately though this kind of plot and overarching storyline is pretty pointless to the grand scheme of things when you have the overwhelming fun that makes up Kirby games.
I can honestly say that I fell in love with everything about this game. From the endearing civilian lives many of the enemies could be seen having, to the way the game felt, Planet Robobot almost feels like a masterpiece to me. There was a fantastic amount of thought and focus put into this game and my feelings from the first time I touched it haven’t changed in the least.
The movement was solid. There are immediate responses from Kirby and his massive robot. The game played quite smoothly and I never noticed any lagging due to an over reach on the games processing. The moves that Kirby could copy were both reminiscent of games long past, and from games well outside of the series. Each ability had several moves that the game taught you through trial and error, and learning to control them often lead me to a stronger attachment to the game.
I can’t speak enough about the use of the background and foreground usage in this game. While I know it had been played around with elsewhere in the series, it’s usage here made me feel like this was a world that was populated and actually alive. Enemies try to attack you from the background, and often you’ll see groups of enemies pulling dangerous obstacles in your path from the background and foreground. Sometimes hazards would affect gameplay, like a massive ice cream cone falling towards the screen and bits of ice cream scattering all across screen. While I know this isn’t unique, it really showed how vibrant this world really could be. These small changes to the way Hal Industries went about using the foreground and background solved much of the complaints I had coming from Kirby: Triple Deluxe.
Like in most Kirby games, copy abilities are one of the things that are often talked about, and people will always find their own favorite type to use. I found I really enjoyed several of the new abilities that this game had to offer. When I first got the chance to get the doctor copy ability, I had to chuckle because the regular ability was from the Super Smash Bros. Doctor Mario. Throwing a pill in front of him with the same bounce that you’d expect Dr. Mario’s pills to have taken. The ability that I fell in love with though was Kirby’s ESP ability. Wearing the hat of a certain psychic youth, Kirby is able to make use of many unique skills. With the ability to dodge and attack at the very last second, the ability to disappear and reappear, and the pk flash, Kirby’s mimicry of Ness from Earthbound (Or Mother 2 if you prefer) is completely overpowered and is one ability that I actively went after.
Now, it’s no secret that most Kirby games have a gimmick. I’m not a big fan of them most of the time, but this game really surprised me with its gimmick. Kirby is able to pilot a large robot from time to time. When he gets in, the robot somehow manages to copy Kirby’s ability to absorb the abilities of the enemies that it can encounter. The robot felt powerful and the movements were slow and demanding as you’d imagine from a large robot. The only issue I noticed with the robot was that I couldn’t get out of the robot at will. Once you’re in, you’re in until the game says you can come out.
Minibosses that would take a while to beat on your own seemed relatively easy to beat once you’ve strapped yourself into this monstrous machine. With just one punch, regular enemies go flying, and often huge metal blocks that would normally block Kirby’s way will explode with a single punch. In one instance, he was able to turn a massive screw that held a platform up, in another the robot picked up a massive block that opened the way to stage secret. It could even transform itself into a jet after copying the jet enemy, which would change the level into a shoot-em-up, or a speedy car after copying the wheel ability. This robot was capable of many interesting and unique characteristics that I found myself enjoying.
I did have a few issues with the game, however. Much of the time, levels were fairly simple. I often found myself following a pattern developed within the game. Within the first few stages of each area, you’d be shown several abilities that would be particularly useful within that area of the game. Then, after you’re fairly familiar with how each of those abilities are used within the level, you’re forced into the robot and are shown how to use this new ability with the robot, teaching you everything there is about the new ability.
After you’ve learned everything, you’d typically be thrown into a “difficult” stage where you’d be forced to use the knowledge you gained from the previous levels and from most of the levels before in order to get to the end of the stage. Then you’d be forced to face off against the boss of the area. While it’s understandable to have level designs teaching you how to play the game, this pattern did end up annoying me after I managed to get to the fifth area, with the game handholding me every step of the way.
Another frustration that I had with Planet Robobot was the bosses of the game.They felt like twisted copies of bosses from other games, and few offered any challenge at all. Honestly, the boss that surprised me the most playing through it again was Whispy Woods. The method of fighting it was completely different from any previous game, and it felt like a major threat compared to the other bosses. That being said, you’ll probably be able to beat most bosses with a single life. I will say, though, that the final boss of this game is an absolute monster to beat with only one life.
Planet Robobot allows you to use any and all of the amiibo you might have collected since they’ve released. Amiibo like Link will give you the sword ability, while Mario will give you the fire ability. If you have an amiibo that doesn’t necessarily have a relative ability within the game, you’ll instead receive a random ability.
If you have the Kirby amiibo you’ll be able to use a unique ability called UFO. You won’t just be getting the ability of the amiibo though, you’ll be getting cherries for each one that you use, which can help keep you alive in desperate situations. While I don’t think it’s necessarily well balanced, each amiibo is only allowed to be used once per stage.
There are also several different game modes available to players – some as soon as you get the game, and some after you’ve beaten the game. For those interested in a multiplayer game, there is a team boss battle RPG that you’ll be able to play with friends. You’ll be able to pick from a healer, a mage, a swordsman, or a berserker.
There are a ton of different bosses you’ll be able to fight, and you’ll get experience after each battle that will increase the strength of your attacks and other stats, RPG style. If that doesn’t interest you, you can pick up Kirby 3D – A challenge map system where you’ll be playing the game in a 3D world. You’ll be racing against the clock and trying to finish the map faster than anyone else.
Once you’ve beaten the game you’ll have the option of playing 2 other side games. In the first, you’ll be playing as Meta Knight as he goes through the entire game with an entirely different moveset. Second, you’ll be able to play a boss rush mode and be able to see just how good you are with the various abilities featured throughout the game.
Kirby: Planet Robobot is one of the best Kirby games I’ve ever played. It is a beautiful, vibrant world filled with secrets, enemies, and unique abilities to learn and use. My time with it was filled with enjoyment from start to finish and I loved every minute of it.
If you’re new to the series or a returning veteran ready to greet the little pink puff ball again after a long wait, you’re in store for a fantastic ride. While there may have been problems along the way, this has to be one of my favorite games to come out of this year. I hope you pick it up and give it a try.
Kirby: Planet Robobot was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS using a retail copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 9
- New abilities are fantastic and fun to use
- Game feels alive plays like a dream
- Robot gives you a feeling of being unstoppable
- Many different uses of Robot can change up the gameplay in interesting ways
- Remixes of old classics are a nice touch
- Several different game modes
- Levels archetypes are a bit repetitive and you’ll be noticing similar patterns as you get near completion
- Bosses are pretty easy and disappointing