Everyone’s favourite gluttonous pink blob is back for his second helping on the 3DS. Using the same engine as the fantastic Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Planet Robobot takes you on a robotic adventure to save Planet Popstar from a villainous group of aliens who have invaded, mechanising Popstar in the process.
Right off the bat you’ll notice how great Planet Robobot looks. The joyous animations, bright colours and vibrant worlds of Triple Deluxe are all accounted for. I believe there was a little graphical upgrade in Robobot however, as everything seems to have a little more detail to it. This may be the mechanised environments, to be fair. The visual overhaul looks spectacular and the robotic elements in each stage never gets tired. What can get a little tiring, however, is the game’s framerate. I’m not normally one to get wound up by something like this, but with 3D effects on (which must be as they make the visuals truly shine), larger areas can run with a noticeable stutter to them.
This is especially true in the game’s many 2.5D sections that supply you with awesome camera angles that showcase the level of detail and scope to each stage. Not since Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards have HAL Laboratory experimented this much with the camera. It’s disappointing that grand scenes such as these are hampered with a stuttering framerate. What’s more disappointing, however, is that the game’s big new feature struggles from the same ailments.
Seemingly taking cues from Titanfall, the folks over at HAL Laboratory decided to let Kirby take control of ultra-powerful mechs (Robobot Armour). When in this armour, Kirby can punch through large obstacles, remove giant screws from things and even suck in enemies to obtain powerful copy abilities. For every copy ability Kirby can employ, the Kirby-piloted mech can too – but they all do different things. The new ESP ability, for example, which gives Kirby psychic powers and a nifty cap (like a certain Earthbound character) when not piloting a mech, lets you shoot gigantic balls of psychic energy at enemies. Copy a wheel enemy and you tun into a car that can flip freely between layers of foreground and background, copy a rocket enemy and you transform into a rocket ship with shooter stages to go along with it.
Piloting the mech is great fun and offers a new dimension of gameplay over Triple Deluxe. It does, however, suffer from the framerate issues that plague the larger areas of the game. At times, I decided to switch the 3D off when piloting a mech – a decision that I don’t take lightly. The use of 3D in the game is great and adds more polish to the overall product in every area. I didn’t appreciate that it wasn’t properly optimised to ensure a smooth experience. The other main issue with Planet Robobot is its length. I finished the game in around 9 hours, with quite a few of the extras (including the two mini games) finished. Compare this to the 11-12 hours you’ll easily get out of Triple Deluxe and Robobot comes up a little short. I would have loved just a couple extra stages in each world.
As with Triple Deluxe, Planet Robobot comes with two mini games (that have since been released as expanded eShop titles). Team Kirby Clash and Kirby 3D Rumble. Team Kirby Clash is a rather shallow experience that sees you take control of one of four Kirbys, choosing a set ability to fight a boss. It’s okay and seeing your Kirby gain experience points at the end of it is fairly humorous, but you’ll rinse through all it has to offer and never really want to return. Kirby 3D Rumble, however, is different. Like with Dedede’s Drum Dash before it, Kirby 3D Rumble feels like a game to itself. It’s Kirby presented in an isometric viewpoint that sees you sucking in enemies to blast them out as projectiles, chaining attacks for higher points. It’s great fun and smartly designed – you’ll wish there was more to it.
Generally speaking, that’s what you’ll feel after finishing Planet Robobot. The stages are smart, somewhat challenging (surprisingly) and feature tonnes of neat ideas. You’ll be solving puzzles with a physical flick of your 3DS, fighting enemies with greatly detailed copy abilities and besting awesome boss fights all while a fairly interesting story is developing in the background. Planet Robobot is great fun throughout, but you’ll wish there was a little more meat on its bones as you’ll be done collecting pretty much everything by the time you finish the game. With a few more stages and a little more polish to iron out the framerate issues that can spoil your experience to some extent, Planet Robobot could have been one of the best Kirby games to date.
There’s plenty to love about Kirby’s mechanised adventure, but framerate issues and a short length hold it back from being spectacular.