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.
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.
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.
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.
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