Revisiting Dream Land in Kirby: Triple Deluxe

So many Kirby games and we still can’t find a bad one. The truth is, Kirby is one of those franchises that simply churns out gold with practically every installment; and on the rare occasion that we get a Pink-puff-themed title that isn’t quite up to snuff, the worst that happens is that the game is merely mediocre. That’s a good problem to have, really – when your worst game is better than some developers’ best. But while each entry has been solid, they’ve also been varied, making Kirby a series that doesn’t often retrace its steps. Thus, Nintendo and HAL Laboratory are back for another iteration of Kirby with Triple Deluxe, the forthcoming Nintendo 3DS game that manages to utilize many of the 3DS’s unique features without ever making said features feel shoehorned or overly gimmicky. But does putting to use a system’s technology make for a quality gaming experience?

Kirby has never been a franchise known for telling a dramatic story. In fact, the narrative of all the games has been simplified, making sure to present gameplay as the main course in the overall experience. Still, there are plots to Kirby titles, and Triple Deluxe is no different. As such, the tales goes something like this: one night, while Kirby is fast-asleep, an enormous beanstalk starts growing under Dream Land. By morning time, it has carried different landmarks, including Kirby’s house and King Dedede’s castle, up into the sky. Naturally, when Kirby wakes up, he is stunned to disocver that he is in a new world high in the clouds above Dream Land. Trying to get to the bottom of this turn of events, Kirby traipses over to Dedede’s castle only to find that the dastard behind the beanstalk incident is a six-armed, caterpillar-esque, floating creature named Daranza. Worse still, Daranza has captured Deded and has him ensnared in a prism made of light. Upon this reveal, Kirby ascends the beanstalk to chase down Daranza, so as to rescue Dedede and make things right in Dream Land once again. In truth, the story here is a simple one, but lovably Disney-like in its foundation.  It doesn’t get caught up in some long-winded, unnecessarily contrived plot, but at the same time recognizes that a story, even the most basic one, can give players just enough incentive to tackle the various tasks put before them.

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With such a premise, it’s easy to see that Triple Deluxe‘s core objective is to have fun. To deliver on this mission, Kirby turns to its gameplay to do just that. While it goes to great lengths to use a variety of original systems to make the experience exciting, there’s plenty of tried-and-true Kirby elements to make longtime fans feel right at home with this new installment. Naturally, Kirbs has his copy ability yet again, making for a fantastic time filled with plenty of enemy-mimicking goodness. With 20 copy abilities making a return from previous games, Triple Deluxe is stacked with diverse ways to dispatch enemies — especially when considering the host of new abilities introduced here, on top of the aforementioned old ones.

For instance, Kirby’s new “Beetle” skill allows him to use a rhinoceros beetle’s horn to lance foes and slam them to the ground, or just hoist them above their head and carry them around for the sheer fun of it. The new “Bell” ability, on the other hand, lets players dual wield bell weapons and attack with sound waves. The “Archer” skill fires arrows in any direction, while the “Circus” ability gives Kirby the opportunity ride on a giant rolling ball to knock enemies over like bowling pins. To top it off, Kirby’s new “Big Bang” mode is especially fulfilling, as a limited-use skill that enhances the puff’s signature sucking capabilities to the point of being able to perform huge acts of awesomeness, such as catching rockets in his mouth or clearing entire rooms full of enemies. Needless to say, there’s a plethora of ways to take out enemies in Deluxe, so it’ll be up to the player to decide on which skill is right for the situation.

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If you’re thinking that Deluxe sounds and looks an awful lot like 2011’s Return to Dream Land, that’s because the game uses Return‘s engine. Meaning to say, the platformer employs a 2.5D perspective that will be very familiar for folks who played the pink-puff’s last Wii outing. Though, unlike Dream Land, this time around Kirby can move between both the foreground and the background with the use of a Warp Star, adding a certain layer of depth to the action that reminded us of Super Paper Mario. Some segments of levels even continue into the foreground or background, with enemy and boss attacks appearing from and in both. It’s a fun system, really, and one that changes up the usual Kirby formula just enough without making the experience feel like something other than that of a Kirby game. Taking another noticeable cue from Return to Dream Land, Deluxe can be played with up to four friends, ensuring folks that they can re-create all of Return’s local-multiplayer debauchery that undoubtedly unfolded when that game was first released.

But multiplayer isn’t the only aspect of Deluxe that will keep players coming back for more, as the game implements two kinds of collectibles to search out over the course of the entire adventure. Items known as “Sunstones” are one of these collectibles, and are integral to the player’s mission, since a certain amount are required in each area to unlock boss battles and make overall progress. Some of these stones are very easy to find, while others are hidden away in secret corridors. The other collectible is a huge set of keychains to find in each stage. Each portion of the set is represented by a piece of pixel art from a previous Kirby title — hearkening back to some of the oldest games such as the original Game Boy and SNES installments — and comes in rare and common assortments. When these keychains are gathered, they are then pinned to a virtual board that players can look at any time during their excursion. These collectibles are a welcome addition to Triple Deluxe, too, seeing as the main story will only run gamers a handful of hours. To lengthen things further, though, HAL has gone ahead and incorporated two other subgames for players’ enjoyment. The first is entitled “Kirby Fighters”, and is a a Super Smash Bros.-style fighting game where players customize their own Kirby and give him any of the game’s copy abilities to then use in battle with other Kirbies in stages based on levels from previous Kirby entries. The second is dubbed “Dedede’s Drum Dash” — a rhythm game starring King Dedede who jumps on drums while having to dodge enemies and collect coins in time to the sounds of classic Kirby jams.

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It’s clear that HAL Laboratory is in some ways going above and beyond here, while at the same time playing things a little too safe for our liking. Thus, Kirby: Triple Deluxe looks to continue the trend of solid Kirby installments at the cost of not evolving the formula in any real substantive way. As a result, it looks to be more of a sequel to Return to Dream Land than a fresh Kirby adventure, but that should not be viewed as humdrum. Triple Deluxe looks to take advantage of the 3DS’s capabilities without ever relying too heavily on any one system gimmick to sell its experience. Instead, it seems to combine a wonderful amount of original ideas and return-to-form mechanics that Kirby newcomers and veterans can both enjoy. Be on the lookout for Triple Deluxe when it launches on May 2 with our review shortly following.