Kirby: Planet Robobot Review

Crush, kill, destroy. Hang on, isn’t this a Kirby game?!

In Planet Robobot, Kirby has access to large mechs which he can use to slice, smash and burn hordes of enemies. It sounds very violent when you say it like that, but to be fair the cartoon violence is the same as it always has been.

 

For the uninitiated, Kirby is an action/platformer series. The first Kirby game was released in 1992 for the Game Boy. The second game, for the Nintendo Entertainment System, introduced the mechanic of sucking up enemies and copying their abilities. This has been a staple of the series ever since.

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Planet Robobot is no different. There are 27 copy abilities in the game. Of course, old favourites such as wheel and fire return. There are a few new abilities too, including a really cool Dr Mario inspired ability, where Kirby throws pills which bounce like fireballs from the Mario games, much slower though. The new poison ability is fun too. Most of the copy abilities have a different function if you use them while running or jumping which mixes up the combat.

In addition to this, the mech is able to copy 13 abilities as well, these are known as modes and are essentially a more powerful version of the regular ability. Trying out all these abilities is a lot of fun, they are all well balanced, however some are obviously more fun to use and more powerful than others. Destroying foes and smashing the environment around with the mech variations is satisfying indeed.

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The level design is inspired, highlights include a casino level where you run around on billiards tables and a level set in a city where cars race towards the foreground of the level. There are also a few shooter levels where the mech transforms into a spaceship and you have to keep up with the screen scrolling from left to right. In a few levels there are also some sections where you guide another character who follows your moves through the background and other sections where Kirby wields a large electrified pole that stretches across both planes, killing enemies and moving blocks. There aren’t too many of these so they don’t detract from the core Kirby experience, they add some welcome variety.

The game looks great as well, Kirby’s animations are extremely fluid and graceful. The game sometimes switches to a pseudo 3D perspective, Kirby 64 style. There is also a fairly big emphasis on riding on stars, switching between the foreground and background of the level. This is a nice subtle use of the 3D screen.

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The story goes that a space ship invades and mechanises Kirby’s home planet, but let’s be fair, no one is here for the story.

After completing the game, the player will unlock the Meta Knightmare Returns and Arena game modes. In the former, you play as Meta Knight, one of the games antagonists, as you run through previous sections of the game in a time trial fashion. Playing as Meta Knight does mix things up a bit as he has different abilities to Kirby but to be honest it feels a bit boring to just retread the same levels.

Arena is a boss rush mode, that’s about it. Most players will get bored after they finish the Planet Robobot story.

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Planet Robobot is short but sweet. Kirby veterans will hardly die at all. In addition to the main game, there are two other modes. Kirby 3D Rumble; a 3D platformer with light puzzle elements. This is essentially a glorified demo, there are only three stages and you can beat it in about fifteen minutes.

There is also Team Kirby Clash, a multiplayer RPG like fare where each stage is a boss for up to four players to take on. There are four classes, all of which are fairly similar aside from the medic. You gain experience from fights which causes you to level up, increasing your stats such as stamina and attack. It’s fairly basic and seems a bit boring, you fight a number of enemies which would essentially be mini-bosses in the main game, not much more to say really.

Overall, Kirby Planet Robobot is a great game. The additional offerings are fairly weak and the challenge is non-existent, but the main game is still a joy to play. There is just enough nostalgia and new additions to keep everyone happy.

By Tom Martin

Kirby: Planet Robobot Review

Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 Review

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‘Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1’ was something of a mixed bag in terms of quality and, due to the overpopulated creative team, cannot be taken as wholly representative of the series going forward. Still, it did at least kick off the new storylines set to take place in the Green Lantern sector of the DC Universe. Should you be keeping up with them?

The primary function of this, and every other Rebirth title, was too introduce the new lead characters to audiences in such a way as to ensure that they latch onto them and invest immediately in the series as it progresses. On this side of things, Green Lanterns succeeds. The first identifiable character you are introduced to is Simon Baz and his first few scenes show that, rather than focusing on the extraterrestrial and fantastical from the off, this book is just as interested in portraying the real life struggles of its characters. Baz can be seen scrubbing the word ‘terrorist’ off of his sister’s house as he laments over the ostracising of his family due to his actions as a part of the Corps. It’s something you will have seen occurring more and more as of late but these relatable, or at least understandable, insights into the lead character’s lives really do make for a better rounded cast who are easy to identify with. Giving these superbeings real world problems humanises and normalises them to some degree and their journeys to redemption and triumph become all the sweeter for it.

Speaking of characters being relatable, Jessica Cruz ticks that box more than any other. Picture it, you’re young, perennially anxious, and you’ve just been given a ridiculously powerful alien ring, chances are you’re going to be a little lost and unsure of yourself. That is exactly what you get to see in Jessica as she nervously makes her way through life, reticent to leave her apartment and completely out of her depth when it comes to fighting alien threats. Due to the way in which Geoff Johns and Sam Humphries have written her, Jessica looks set to be the audience’s window into this world as it is very easy to see things from her perspective.

As is typically the case it’s not all great on the writing front as the slow nature of the plot and the complete lack of impact held within it make for a largely disappointing read. In terms of the main plot there is precious little to sink your teeth into as, once they’ve been introduced, both new Lanterns are transported away to deal with a threat. You get more character and relationship building between the two and their squabbling should prove to make for an enjoyable back and forth later on but you don’t get any real action. That’s not always the end of the world but it would have been nice to see a little more fighting and a little less talking. Really this whole comic reads like a blatant hook for the upcoming Hal Jordan title more so than one that was focused entirely on its own tale as he is introduced near to the end and does more in a few pages than the others do in a whole book. That being said, the side story involving a fleeing Guardian carrying a box containing some unexplained power does offer up a good deal of intrigue, as does the big villain reveal at the end.

The art was taken care of by a duo too this time out and it left things feeling a little disjointed. The first of these names was also the more impressive partner, Ethan Van Sciver. His attention to detail is, at times, remarkable as he squeezes the most visual information into each page as is possible. There is no sign of him taking any shortcuts to get to the finished product and as such his pages can be gorgeous in their detailing. The page featuring The Justice League is ill-fitting though as it jars entirely with what has come before it and appears a little confusing on the page.

Ed Benes is the other artist and, sorry to say, he really isn’t very good. It has been pointed out in more than one review on this book but he just doesn’t distinguish between his characters very well at all. If you look closely at any given page you will notice that the same basic facial elements are used for a good number of individuals and it leaves the book feeling quite underwhelming and rushed. Had he taken more care in ensuring this was not the case then you’d have a better book on your hands.

So yes, mixed is the word to describe Green Lanterns: Rebirth. It is by no means a bad comic and it in fact offers up a great deal in the way of characterisation, it is just in terms of plot that it all falls down. The fact that only Sam Humphries is staying on for the future books means that everything could change quite markedly in just one issue. Until then let’s be cautiously optimistic about the new Green Lantern comic.

Score: 7.0/10.

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Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 Review

Deadpool #11 Review

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‘Deadpool’ has reached the end of its latest arc and it has managed to do so in a very different style than it typically would have done as fans were offered a moment of clarity rather than one of bloodshed. Could such a drastic departure from form still make for a good read?

For the past few months, Deadpool has been at war with Sabretooth due to him mistakenly believing that ‘Tooth killed his parents. It all started back in the 25th anniversary edition of Deadpool and thus marks the longest of Gerry Duggan’s continuous ‘Pool stories. To say that the journey up until this point has been a troubled one would be an understatement as the quality has fluctuated wildly with each passing issue. One week you would get a perfectly good instalment full off off-beat humour and insane violence, the next you would be subjected to the most painfully unfunny jokes and bland action possible. It has to be said though that people do often tend to remember the beginnings and conclusions of arcs without paying a great deal of mind to the murky middle part, so if this issue were to be good then people could realistically look back fondly on this whole story.

That then begs the question, was it good? Well, and this is surprising to write, yes it was. In a move that really broke the series out of its recent slump Duggan brought a great deal to the table. Firstly, there’s the fact that he pumped this issue full of humour and as such it is the truest representation of Deadpool he has put forward so far. There are many moments that can be pointed to from which you will likely get a giggle but this page was a personal favourite.

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Not to rest too heavily on laughs, Duggan also ensured that there was an emotional resonance to his tale and that Deadpool finished the story in a different place to which he started. This Sabretooth arc has always been primarily about Wade’s journey of discovery and self-acceptance and that is exactly what this finale acknowledged. He discovered the truth about who really killed his parents and he didn’t have a breakdown when he realised that it was he who did it. Even Doctor Strange, who popped up for a small role, confirmed for audiences that ‘Pool has gone through tremendous personal growth as he reveals that he has suppressed many of these memories and that Deadpool has rediscovered them before too, only this time is the first that he hasn’t tried to kill Strange upon his remembering.

This almost blissful ending is not without its foreboding though as Madcap popped up once more as a figment of Deadpool’s imagination as served as a signal that the hard times are not over and there is still more baggage for ‘Pool to deal with. The reintroduction of Madcap to the series would be a great move as he is a highly effective villain for ‘Pool to face off with and will switch the tone back to a slightly creepier one, something everyone loves to see.

It appears that Matteo Lolli has really come into his own as an artist as he delivers yet another dynamic issue full off bright images and largely realistic characters. You get a real sense of emotion through his work on facial expressions and even the masked Deadpool conveys feeling with ease. All of this combines with the wonderful colourist, Ruth Redmond, to make a fresh feeling comic.

Between the appearances of Doctor Strange and Magneto, and the massive character progression for Deadpool, this proves to be one of the best issues in this series’ run. It’s not difficult to get hyped for the next arc, although the fact that they’re doing a one issue return to the 2099 arc leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Score: 9.0/10.

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Deadpool #11 Review