The story, for what it is worth, sees a giant beanstalk grow under Dream Land, sending Kirby (and series bad guy King Dedede) into the sky. Our hero, as always, must set things right and needs to traverse a number of different worlds, completing stages within and defeating the boss that guards the end of each of them. Nothing out of the ordinary in terms of structure and the in-game story telling is kept to a minimum, with only a few short cut scenes being used.
Running on the same engine as Return to Dream Land, 2011's Wii release, Triple Deluxe immediately looks similar – bright and colourful side scrolling stages being the order of the day. Where this game differs though is that Kirby can switch to the foreground and background of stages whenever a warp star appears. Although on the surface this is simply a nice way of taking advantage of the 3D effect, it plays an important role in collecting the several sunstones hidden throughout each stage. Uncovering a key in the foreground and successfully navigating the background to find the hidden locked door it will open is just one example. Besides, when the 3D looks this good, having this level structure for visual purposes alone would be perfectly fine.
The copy ability that the series is known for - which sees Kirby with the ability to inhale and swallow certain enemies, bestowing their power upon him – returns, with some new examples as well as familiar favourites. Those wanting simply to make it from start to finish will generally be fine using any of these, as they all provide a nice offensive upgrade, but choosing the right ones is the only way some hidden collectibles can be found, adding a nice incentive to play around, explore the levels and come back and replay them. Additionally, in the lead up to a boss fight, it's not uncommon to find an area with a selection of powers to choose from, generally the ones that will make the upcoming battle a little easier by, for example, targetting the boss's weak point.
There is room for exploration throughout Triple Deluxe, with players encouraged to play with the environment to discover secrets. Whilst the ability to explore is limited in a 2D, handheld platformer, it's still enjoyable for those interested, the lack of any sort of time limit helping remove some of the pressure as well. Those who do want to see more of the game will be rewarded with collectible keyrings in each level. Featuring characters, enemies and scenes from previous Kirby games, these can be viewed separately, their retro charm highlighted with their presentation in pixel fashion. In a similar way to how tracking down the elusive green stars in Super Mario 3D World provided an understanding and appreciation of both the levels structure and game mechanics, the same applies here, albeit on a less grand scale.
These collectibles and hidden items stretch the length of the game out for a few additional hours (the main game taking around six to eight hours) but for those looking for more content, there are a number of mini-games available. With two – a Smash Brothers style fighter and a rhythm platformer – playable from the outset and an additional two unlocking once the main game has been beaten.
Although, as previously mentioned, this is one of the more traditional Kirby outings, the trump card is the central, new mechanic. At predetermined points in certain stages, a rainbow seed appears that, once ingested, sees a transformation to Hypernova Kirby take place. This essentially increases the power of the sucking ability a thousand fold, with enemies and parts of the stage such as trees and houses able to be inhaled. Although handy for quickly removing enemy threats, it is much more interesting when used to solve one of the light puzzles. Generally simple affairs, such as sucking back a ball on a chain enough to smash through a barrier once released or pulling a drill along a lava filled path, clearing obstacles in the way, they go a long way to breaking up the routine of scrolling from left to right.
The series is generally known for being on the easy side and while Triple Deluxe starts off at a canter, it does pick up in terms of level of challenge as the game progresses. The 3D makes boss fights more challenging for example, with patterns that see them use the foreground and background, making attacks harder to predict. It's not going to have you tearing your hair out in frustration, like, for example, some of the later or hidden levels in a Mario platformer, but expect to lose a few lives throughout.
In the end, although those not attracted to the core Kirby gameplay will likely find nothing here to change their way of thinking, series fans should appreciate the new touches and increased challenge on offer. With the game likely to see its Western release dates revealed soon, importers may want to hold off for a few months, but the language barrier is non-existent, making it an easy title to play through without a knowledge of Japanese.
- Bright, colourful visual style.
- New mechanic adds to the core formula.
- Collectibles and mini-games add replay incentive.
- Superb use of 3D.
- Not enough may have changed for some.
Other versions: N/A
Version reviewed: Japanese