Kirby has always been great for some straight forward, energetic fun when you just feel like a game that doesn’t fight against you. And while the more modern instalments in the Kirby franchise do make heavy use of some sort of gimmick, they rarely get in the way of the core of what makes a Kirby game, generally adding on the classic formula in some unique way. This time, it’s robots.
I’m going to be writing this review assuming you’ve all played a Kirby game before, focusing on the new mechanics and features.
I first discovered the robot had a copy ability by accident, absorbing and ability without even realising. It was a moment of surprise and joy, where the robot suit turned into some plasma cutting beast, with its own moveset separate to Kirby when in Sword form. It’s so much more powerful, and the levels and mechanics are designed in a way to amplify that feelings.
And all of the copy abilities the suit can acquire feel familiar, but much more powerful. A couple favourites of mine change up the game mechanics in a big way, with Wheel turning the robot suit into a car, with two tracks to switch between, the foreground and background, taking full advantage of the 2.5D style. The other is Jet, which turns the game into a shmup, but when it’s a Kirby game, it’s much more of an obstacle course than a bullet hell.
On top of that, the suit can also be used to manipulate the environment in unique ways, with giant screws and levers used to alter the ground and platforms around. A lot of these mechanics are then recycled in boss battles, where you’ve been made to feel confident in picking up environmental cues to what you can and can’t interact with.
The out-of-suit moments are also great, but not too different from Kirby games in the past. A lot of mechanics from Triple Deluxe have been carried over, like the foreground/background switching and Snowman head puzzles. On top of that, there’s a few new copy abilities, like ESP and Doctor, which are fun to use, but probably just added in for amiibo support.
Also, the final boss battle in this game is worth the money alone. I’m not going to spoil it, because it’s an amazing and epic surprise.
The story is rather light on, which is generally the go with Kirby games. Dream Land has been taken over by robots, and you have to kick them out. There’s a little bit of an attempt at drama, but when it’s only really developed during boss battles, it just feels empty and doesn’t belong.
As usual, Planet Robobot keeps the whimsical, dreamy atmosphere of Dream Land, but with a much stronger industrial and sometiems urban feel. Some levels you’re dashing through a city, avoiding traffic, and other you can be going through a factory, with lots of metal and electricity buzzing around.
One stand out environment used in a few levels, are the trains. The carriages are almost cavernous, with the foreground and background 2.5D mechanic, but when you’re on one plane, you have the auto scroll level, keeping you moving forward at a steady pace. Move onto the other plane, and you can move at your own pace, usually going backwards to try pick up something you passed on the other plane. Blending the movement to the environment was a stand out here, just simple but effective.
Overall, it keeps the approachable look of the Kirby series, while making clever use of environmental cues to tell you what you can interact with, and what it’ll probably do for you.
The music in Robobot borrows heavily on previous instalments in the franchise, but remixing them to sound more industrial or electronic. Overall, it sounds great, and there were definitely a few moments where I stopped to try pick out where I’ve heard a tune before. But having said that, Kirby music definitely has a strong style that I would love to see expanded on in new directions.
For the most part, I forgot that I was even listening to music- this isn’t a bad thing, it usually means the music does the job of adding to an atmosphere well enough that it doesn’t get distracting.
This is the most fun I’ve had with a Kirby game since I played the original on the NES as a kid. The robot is just full of surprises gameplay wise, and honestly, the build up to the final boss, and the fight itself, is phenomenal. I usually hate hyping things up, but for real, this final boss was such a fun and amazing surprise, and I had a giant grin on my face the entire time playing.