When I saw Kirby Planet Robobot was coming out soon I was a little surprised. The previous Kirby 3DS game had just come out, right? In fact, it has been more than two years since Kirby Triple Deluxe delighted players. So maybe enough time had passed for a new Kirby platformer. Planet Robobot at least brings something completely new to the table, with Nintendo’s adaptable pink puff ball getting a big pink mech suit to stomp around in. It isn’t much of a change, just a slight adaptation of the usual Kirby gameplay. Still, what this game lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in polish and design.
Planet Robobot looks and plays largely identically to Triple Deluxe. That is a very good thing. It looks great; bright and colorful with expressive characters and monstrous bosses. Kirby has his usual array of copy abilities, as well a few new ones. In other words, it is a Kirby game. The move sets of his abilities aren’t the series most complex, there is still a wide variety of skill and maneuvers to master. It also keeps Triple Deluxe’s plane hopping, with the player forced to solve puzzles by leaping back and forth from the foreground to the background.
The game isn’t hard, no Kirby game is, but it does set up some very interesting puzzles and just enough collecting to be interesting without overdoing it. It is easy to speed through the game and ignore that stuff and it is just difficult enough to slog through and collect every last thing. It strikes a very good balance.
The plot of this game is that some sort of evil corporate robot is taking over Kirby’s star world, turning everyone else into robots. It is little more than an aesthetic change, but it does give an excuse to remix the classic Kirby bosses into slightly more robotic forms. Then there is the Mech suit, which largely operates like ones from Mega Man X, except that it too has Kirby’s copy powers. Again, that opens up plenty of interesting gameplay possibilities. There are destructible portions of levels, but getting all the secrets means realizing what needs to be destroyed and what needs to be preserved.
Nintendo tosses off routinely excellent platformers like this a couple of times a year. Not all of them are transcendent masterpieces like Super Mario Galaxy or Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, but even the worst of their output is leagues better than what anyone else is doing. Few other big game companies are even attempting this sort of game anymore and the indie titles rarely manage this supreme competence. Kirby Planet Robobot is not among Nintendo’s upper echelon of platformers. It doesn’t match the Wii’s superlative Kirby Return to Dreamland. Still, it is excellent from a technical standpoint and the robot trappings are engaging. That big pink mech is somehow both badass and adorable. As I said wrote earlier, there is a routine excellence to this game. It plays perfectly well, but it never feels like Nintendo is really laboring for it. It is thoroughly satisfying but not especially memorable. Ah well, on to Box Box Boy, the next game from Nintendo’s platformer factory.