Review: Kirby: Planet Robobot is ir-resistor-ble

Kirby’s got a new toy, which means we something new to play with too! Kirby: Planet Robobot is our favorite puffball’s latest adventure and it delivers exactly what you’d expect. It’s a self contained, colorful affair chock full of intricate details, pleasant pastimes and a set of armor so astounding, it’ll make you forgive seeing Kirby so angry and drunk with power on the box.

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Kirby: Planet Robobot begins with Popstar in dire danger. The Haltmann Works Company has come to the planet with its mechanized forces to steal the pure planet’s natural resources. It’s ship is perched over important areas, transforming their people and places. Fortunately, Kirby wakes from his nap in time to strike back, retake his home and drive away the invaders.

I love what Kirby: Planet Robobot does for the series and its bosses.

I love what Kirby: Planet Robobot does for the series and its bosses. We tend to see the same enemies, big and small, in every iteration. They have more mechanized and modernized forms here. Waddle Dees wear hardhats and mech suits. Whispy Woods returns as the first boss, but this time he’s the mechanized Clanky Woods. He first shows up as an unbeatable foe that chases Kirby into a corner his oversized form can’t reach. His boss fight is now a multi-part affair that makes use of interesting perspectives as you run around a circular area.

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This upgrade applies to every area. The first level, Patched Plains, is a green space like Grass Land and Fine Fields. The difference is, there are copper pipes with fake leaves in place of trees. Overload Ocean replaces Orange Ocean and Float Island, filled with rigs, boats and undersea piping. Resolution Road feels like an entirely new area, a busy city with highways running through it and a casino. We’ve never seen Kirby and the crew in places like this and it’s a totally different experience, but it still fits.

As does the Robobot armor. Kirby’s quite a powerhouse on his own. I wondered if this would be an extraneous gimmick. It isn’t. The Robobot armor is perfectly integrated into every level, complete with puzzles and secret areas that correspond to its own copy abilities. In one area, turning a screw makes a landmass move. Moving further than you think it could takes you to a secret spot with a hidden item. Copying the Jet ability in a Resolution Road level briefly turns Kirby: Planet Robobot into a side-scrolling shooter. His mech has its place in every level of the game.

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But back to those hidden items. It wouldn’t be a Kirby game without secrets, and Kirby: Planet Robobot delivers. There are hidden stickers, both standard and rare, in each stage. They can be collected and used to decorate the Robobot armor, with new stickers found on every replay. Each stage has three Code Cubes hidden within it, needed to unlock the firewall protecting each boss. Find every Code Cube in a level and a bonus stage unlocks. There’s lots to find, with the only problem being that they’re not hidden very well. Finding them is a little easier than I would have liked, but it’s fun stumbling across each one.

Kirby: Planet Robobot does many things and does them all well.

I wish the amiibo support was as entertaining. It’s superfluous. It’s easy enough to find the powerups you need to unlock each area in the stages; needed copy abilities are conveniently placed in the right places at the right times. I only required an assist from King Dedede and his Hammer power in one Overload Ocean stage. Not too bad, considering there are 41 stages in the game. But then, this is also a positive. You aren’t missing out on any part of the experience by avoiding the NFC gimmick.

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Kirby: Planet Robobot‘s subgames are far from superfluous. Each of the three takes an element of gameplay and focuses in on it for a contained experience. Team Kirby Clash sends you against six former minibosses with a team of four Kirbys. Unfortunately, it’s best enjoyed with other people and only allows for local wireless. Kirby 3D Rumble takes Kirby through three arenas, each with three standard stages and one boss stage, where the goal is to defeat all enemies as they appear as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s a delight that’s over far too soon. A final sub-game unlocks when the game is completed, giving people motivation to go through Kirby: Planet Robobot‘s campaign with another friendly face.

Kirby: Planet Robobot does many things and does them all well. It gives Kirby a chance to explore new places and fight new enemies inspired by old ones, showing how well our classic hero adapts to more modern environments. We see the Robobot armor appear as a solid addition to the series, instead of some one trick gimmick. We even get minigames based on tried gameplay elements that, though brief, continue to brighten our days. Kirby delights, as always.

Score: 9/10
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: June 10, 2016
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Platform(s): 3DS
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