The games in the main Kirby series can always be relied on for a good time. Without offering much of a challenge, the games starring the pink puffball shine in terms of its simple yet fun gameplay, and Kirby: Planet Robobot retains this trait. Planet Popstar has been taken over by the alien Haltmann Works Co., transforming the peaceful and lush landscape into one of machinery and industry. Not only has this allowed for a distinct aesthetic for a Kirby game, but the introduction of the Robobot armour has enabled a fresh gameplay experience that differentiates itself from other titles in the franchise.
CODED FOR FUN
At its core, Planet Robobot is still in the vein of a typical Kirby adventure. On your way to way to reach the stage’s goal, you’ll have to take advantage of a wide variety of Copy Abilities, after inhaling enemies of varying attributes. Each ability is unlike the next, so whether you like the combo-on-combo action of the Fighter ability or the simplicity of the Stone power, there are bound to be some favourites you pick up. New ones have been added to the mix, being the Poison, Doctor, and PSI powers, alongside the long absent Jet and Mirror abilities. amiibo can be used in order to get powers at will, with most corresponding to a specific one (tap Link to get the Sword ability, for example), with the UFO ability being exclusive to the new Kirby amiibo. There is also a bit of exploring to do within each level, with around 3 Code Cubes to collect per level, and a certain amount is necessary to unlock the world’s boss. Stickers are scattered throughout the stage, replacing the keychains from Triple Deluxe. Both items are sure to add some replay value to what is quite sadly a somewhat short story (although this isn’t uncommon with Kirby games).
However, it is the Robobot armour that gives Planet Robobot its identity. Whilst this may be classified as this game’s ‘gimmick’, much like the Hypernova and Super Abilities in games prior to this one, this mechanised powerhouse feels much more than that. Using this new suit, Kirby can tackle new obstacles like unscrewing a floor to descend further down. This is a bit bland on its own, but like its plump pilot, it can take advantage of varying abilities too. Although its uses per power are fairly limited, the impact it leaves more than makes up for it. For instance, its take on the Fire power grants you access to flamethrowers, as well as a scorching trail of flames whenever you run. One particular standout is the the Jet form, which transforms the game into an old-school shoot-’em-up. Plus, you can find this hunk of metal in most of the levels, with quick access in and out of it at certain points in a stage. The Robobot armour is brilliantly integrated into the game, allowing for a fair share of both styles of platforming. Furthermore, it never outstayed its welcome and quickly became a central part of my experience and enjoyment with Planet Robobot, and didn’t feel too much like a rushed feature just for the sake of a new game. I couldn’t imagine fully enjoying this game without it.
As is the case with Kirby games, Planet Robobot does offer more than just the campaign. The sub-games this time round are Kirby 3D Rumble and Team Kirby Clash. The former involves moving around in a 3D space, sucking and spitting out foes in hopes of achieving as high of a score as possible. Its simple nature is charming and enjoyable, but the novelty wears of far too quickly. After all, it only lasts 10 minutes at minimum between the three levels. The other involves four Kirbys teaming up to battle various bosses in quests (one per each). This can be played with three other mates, and the ability to do so via Download Play is a welcome gesture. However, you can pick between only four classes (being the Sword, Hammer, Beam, and Doctor abilities), though they each have their own unique ability exclusive to the mode. In both minigames the stages can be replayed multiple times to get medals, ranked from bronze to platinum, much like previous main Kirby games, but I feel like the bonus games are somewhat lacking. There is also a mode where you can race through the campaign as Meta Knight, but I felt a tad bit too overpowered throughout the whole thing, as every time I encounter a boss I can wipe them out in seconds with a powerful attack, given that I easily collected a lot of power for it on the normal stages. The extras, as short-lived as they may be, offer some worthwhile replay value.
Planet Robobot has also adopted a distinct robotic theme for its visuals. It was quite cool running around this blend of nature with new machinery and metal, and practically every level felt different from the next. The graphics are carried over from Triple Deluxe (which still holds up well), in addition to its good use of 3D that may be necessary to distinguish objects from the foreground and the background. Sadly, I experienced drops in the frame rate from time to time with this feature on, which is noticeable in comparison to the butter-smooth frame rate of the game without 3D. What doesn’t drop (not as much anyways) is the game’s musical score. Particular highlights include a remixed version of the iconic Green Greens and the Robobot theme, but the soundtrack was of great quality throughout.
Kirby: Planet Robobot is simply a joy to play. There is a decent amount of extras (albeit quite short) to add to the game, but the campaign is the real star of the show. This game retains what has made Kirby so great all these years, with its charming visuals, great soundtrack, and simple yet fun gameplay. But Planet Robobot isn’t afraid to be different. The Robobot armour isn’t just a mere gimmick; it feels so natural to use, both within the context of the plot and the world, as well as how it plays. And for this I am awarding Kirby: Planet Robobot with an 8.8.