Kirby: Planet Robobot Review

A game that is full of good intentions and charm, but whose heart is just not quite in it

robobot1Kirby: Triple Deluxe did what numerous games created for the Nintendo 3DS could not achieve: it used the system’s tridimensional effects, once hailed as a grand innovation and its flagship feature, as something more than just visual fireworks. Although playing the game did not require that the 3-D slider be turned all the way up, or even be activated for that matter, Triple Deluxe thrived in toying with the depth of its scenarios, building most of its finest moments around traps, enemies, and obstacles that used the extra dimension as its trampoline.

Arriving around two years after that game, Kirby: Planet Robobot is smart enough to realize what a great source of inventive ideas the sandbox explored by its predecessor was. It borrows Triple Deluxe’s engine and most of its art style, and sets out to place Kirby in the midst of yet another quest to save Planet Popstar from a new looming threat. Unfortunately, where Triple Deluxe was surprising in an astoundingly constant way, throwing new impressive tricks at the screen with every stage that popped up; Planet Robobot feels like a game produced on autopilot, as if developers did not bother to fill it up with enough remarkable novelties to justify its existence.

Truth be told, Planet Robobot does try to shift things around with enough intensity to give its adventure a unique vibe, the problem is that its commendable shot at building a strong Kirby game never quite takes off. It all begins when a sudden and unexpected menace from outer space hits Dreamland: a mechanized ark filled with sentient robots attacks the place, disarms both King Dedede and Meta Knight, and – like a giant metal spider – plants five enormous legs on different regions of the planet in order to exploit its resources and terrorize its inhabitants. From that point, Kirby’s goal is clear: head to the five affected regions and clear a bunch of stages on his way to defeating the area’s boss and doing away with the threat.

robobot3The invasion by modern-looking machines gives Planet Robobot the distinction of merging the traditionally organic environments of the Kirby franchise with mechanical motifs. Therefore, its six worlds, which include the hero’s incursion into the cybernetic ark, are thematically clever. Patched Plains is packed with grasslands that have been corrupted by pipes and machinery; Resolution Road is a bustling downtown with loads of traffic lights; Overload Ocean feels like a contemporary port; Gigabyte Grounds blends an arid landscape with factories; and Rhythm Route is a futuristic city. Moreover, the game has loads of machines that serve as traps, tools, visual assets, and enemies, like buzz-saws, batteries, drills, lasers, and others.

In Triple Deluxe, besides being able to – as usual – steal the powers of his enemies and use them to wreak havoc around the levels, Kirby had one super ability that unlocked new gameplay possibilities and made him borderline invincible: the mighty Hypernova. As it tightly follows on the footsteps of that game, Planet Robobot does the same; the usual abilities stolen from regular enemies (including the brand new ones Doctor, Poison, and ESP) are complemented by an ultimate power: a gigantic robot that Kirby can hop into during specific portions of the stages.

Like the Hypernova, the titular Robobot Armor opens up new level design possibilities, as it can carry gigantic blocks around, interact with platform-moving levers, unscrew steel doors, and more. Unlike the Hypernova, the Robobot Armor is rather flexible; it can absorb specific foes’ powers, thereby allowing players to turn it into an enormous sword-wielding killing machine, a bomb launching weapon of destruction, an impressive flamethrower, and even a flying ship and a speedy car, with the last two, respectively, supporting fun flying shoot ’em up and racing segments.

robobot2Despite that added flexibility, though, the Robobot Armor’s use never reaches the creative and exaggerated levels achieved by Triple Deluxe’s amusing Hypernova challenges. There is some degree of fun to be found in being utterly powerful and punching through everything in sight; however, in the end, truly awe-inspiring moments are scarce. The same applies to the levels, bosses, and tridimensional tricks as a whole: creativity does appear every once in a while, but Planet Robobot clearly does not have enough ideas to power its adventure all the way to the end. Its smartest tricks are either reused too often for their own good (like the cars and buses that travel towards the screen when the street lights are green), or never reach their full potential (like the battery-powered buzz-saws); and some stages and boss battles come and go without leaving a mark.

With that being said, the low but decent difficulty of Kirby: Planet Robobot is a reminder of who the target audience of the franchise is: children. And as far as they are concerned, the game should hit its mark just fine in spite of its generally unmemorable nature, as it is colorful, controls perfectly, features a bunch of charming characters, packs a load of cartoonish charm – including some amazing cutscenes, and holds a nice amount of exciting tunes. To top it all off, as a treat to those looking either for more challenge or for extra gameplay time, Planet Robobot has two sets of collectibles: CodeCubes that open hidden stages when fully collected in a world, with three of them being found in each level; and stickers, with a rare golden one hidden in every level plus a bunch of random blue ones that sadly need to be grinded for if players feel like completing their collection.

Finally, as it is the rule in Kirby games, Planet Robobot features a handful of extra modes that work like great diversions. Besides the usual Time Attack that happens on harder versions of the regular stages with players controlling Meta Knight (Meta Knightmare Returns) and Boss Rush (The Arena and The Real Arena, which is the harder version), two new mini-games are available. Kirby 3D Rumble places the pink puffball in Bomberman-like 3-D arenas so that he can defeat all enemies and collect loot; and Team Kirby Clash, a role-playing adventure where a team of four Kirbys – belonging to classes selected by the players – traverse short levels and defeat bosses, gaining experience and improving their stats on the way. The only complaint that could possibly be made about those two final modes is that they eventually end. Both are actually so entertaining and engaging that one can easily see how they could be turned into little Kirby downloadable titles if more deeply explored.

robobot4Like pretty much all games of the franchise, Kirby: Planet Robobot is rock-solid. Differently from most of the series’ latest releases, though, it simply fails to be truly remarkable. The mechanical theme that permeates the worlds, enemies, traps, bosses, and levels is intriguing, and the reutilization of the tridimensional visual tricks of Triple Deluxe is commendable given how creative that game was. However, the recipe never truly clicks, giving birth to an adventure that is usually plain and rarely flooring. HAL Laboratory ends up turning in a game that is full of good intentions and charm, but whose heart is just not quite in it.

kirby-planet-robobot

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About Matt

A Brazilian gamer with a great love for playing Nintendo games, and a hobby of writing about his gaming experiences and thoughts. Even though that is what I mainly do for fun, I also love listening to music (especially rock) and watching movies (especially animations), so also expect a few posts on those matters.
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15 Responses to Kirby: Planet Robobot Review

  1. Matt says:

    Reblogged this on The News, Reviews & Personal Views Website On All Things Nintendo and commented:

    Kirby keeps exploring the structure of the fantastic Triple Deluxe, but with much less compelling results.

  2. Aw, man. I need to try this out. I loved every Kirby game I’ve got my hands on so far, so I’m sure this won’t disappoint. Great post!

    I’m actually the Community Content Manager for NowLoading.co, and I would be thrilled if you considered cross posting your stuff to our platform. If you don’t know much about us- we’re the same team behind Movie Pilot, and push to give awesome writers (like yourself) the exposure they deserve. Feel free to email me! My email and more info is on my about page. 🙂

    • Matt says:

      Thanks a lot! I appreciate the compliment, and I hope you have a blast when you play the game. Kirby is always guaranteed fun.

      I would certainly consider cross posting what I write there. It would be cool.

      I actually signed up to creators.co a while back but that’s all I did. I ended up getting caught up in other things and never went back.

  3. I must say I’m actually a bit surprised you didn’t like Planet Robobot more. I actually thought it was more enjoyable than Triple Deluxe (and Triple Deluxe was great). I thought the Robobot armors were one of the most fun additions to the series in some time.

    • Matt says:

      Yeah, I remember your review. When I was playing the game and not enjoying it as much as Triple Deluxe it came to mind, but I just couldn’t get into it.

  4. Mr. Panda says:

    Excellent review Matt! I haven’t played it yet, but your review paints a good picture of what I should expect with Planet Robobot. I got Triple Deluxe when it was on sale and found it to be good old Kirby, but nothing too special. I feel like this is probably similar, though I’m a bit intrigued by the robot. However, you saying that it’s not even as great as the hypernova sequences makes me rethink what I want. I’ll probably still get this in the end, but I may continue to hold off for a while, given the circumstances. It’s a shame the game doesn’t seem to have as much heart into it, but I can see that. Thanks for reviewing it!

    • Matt says:

      Thanks for reading it.

      Yeah, I definitely felt it wasn’t as inspired as Triple Deluxe. But you are right about still giving it a try. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

      themancalledscott thought it was an excellent Kirby outing.

  5. Great review! I love the little pink puffball, but it has been a long time since I played one of his games. This one looks incredibly fun!

  6. SpeedySailor says:

    That’s sorta how I felt about Triple Deluxe, just without the robots. For me Triple Deluxe was a very well rounded game in its visuals, sound and stage designs, but I didn’t think it was the most fun game I’ve played because the gameplay was just a too simple to be ground-breaking.
    Reuben

    • Matt says:

      Yeah, you are right about Triple Deluxe being straightforward. But I thought it was quite clever within the scope in which it existed. I can’t say the same about Planet Robobot, unfortunately.

      But I hope you enjoy it when you play it.

  7. Great review! Kirby Planet Robobot is actually one of my favorite newer games. I loved the creativity in all the different levels and the Robobot armor was a lot of fun to use. I am ashamed to say that I have Triple Deluxe but have only played it very briefly- I need to play it soon! 🙂

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