Kirby Triple Deluxe: One Of The Better Uses Of The Nintendo 3DS

By Ethan . April 28, 2014 . 12:31pm

Kirby games these past years have been split between experimental releases that defy franchise conventions and periodic returns to the original formula that first made Kirby an important Nintendo property. I absolutely love strange and unique Kirby games like Mass Attack or Epic Yarn, since these games show Nintendo taking a mascot and adapting it to fit any muse that strikes them.


Meanwhile, games like Kirby Canvas Curse make me think that calls for new Nintendo IP are misguided. Just look at this unorthodox game released under one of Nintendo’s oldest labels! Kirby has proven that creativity and new gameplay ideas can manifest without a new character to represent them.


However, Kirby Triple Deluxe does not feature new gameplay ideas. It follows that same Kirby formula that’s existed since the Game Boy. It’s not a terrible formula, really, but I think it’s one of Nintendo’s weakest. It just never comes together the way great side-scrolling action games do. Kirby can fly indefinitely which takes the teeth out of platforming challenges. Levels end up generic because they need to be playable with any of the movesets in the game rather than being specifically designed around the mobility and weaknesses of just one. There are special puzzle rooms and collectable challenges that require use and mastery of specific powers, but long stretches of the main levels can be homogenous.


Think for a moment about other ‘90s side-scrolling classics. The great games that have stood the test of time featured levels that were very specifically built around the clumsy mechanics at the player’s disposal. Castlevania III’s levels would be child’s play to navigate through as one of the more mobile protagonists from recent iterations, but because the player can’t alter jump arcs or attack at angles, those levels are compelling and difficult. Kirby games have never had that interplay between mechanical limitations and obstacles and neither does Triple Deluxe.


That having been said, for what it’s worth, Kirby games are designed to be children’s games. They’re always fairly easy, they always clearly signpost objectives, and they always look and sound inviting. They’re quality, polished fun for the very young and there’s something to be said for a quality children’s game. For all that videogames are stigmatized as toys, most games are terrible for young players. Unnecessarily violent content, caustic online communities, complicated control schemes and a severe lack of positive role models are all standard in this industry.


So, even if a new Kirby formula game doesn’t excite me the way iterations in other old school franchises can, it has a place and I’m glad it exists. Somebody needs to make games for children that aren’t licensed from Nickelodeon. And admittedly, despite my complaints, I had fun with Kirby: Triple Deluxe anyway. This game may look like Kirby: Yet Another Return to Dreamland but it actually has as much in common with those strange touch-controlled adventures I liked so much on Nintendo’s last handheld.


See, Nintendo has a unique development pattern they follow. When the hardware division releases a new system, the software teams go to work finding ways to adapt Nintendo’s properties to maximize the new system’s unique features. When HAL Laboratories tried to fit Kirby to the Nintendo DS touch screen, they twice decided to build entirely new game systems rather than try and shoehorn touch gimmicks into the tried and true formula. This was probably for the best. But faced with the 3DS, HAL has been able to create a Kirby game that takes full advantage of the hardware features without straying from floating and monster swallowing.


The specific Nintendo 3DS features that Kirby Triple Deluxe leverages are the 3D top screen, the internal gyroscope, and StreetPassing. HAL has used the 3D very effectively with a wide array of foreground/background stage designs. Sometimes this is as simple as enemies and their projectiles flying forwards and backwards between the two, but often things get more involved. Platforms might be visible only in a mirror on the background, tanks chase Kirby while firing projectiles into the foreground, and weights and counterweights need to be balanced between both. In every level there’s something of this nature in play and it adds an extra layer of depth to the game.


The internal gyroscope isn’t used as often, but it’s used more effectively than most 3DS games to date. The game smoothly fades the 3D effect out any time Kirby enters a room with a tilt function tool, which resolves potential screen issues before they even arise. The tilt puzzles on display aren’t mind-blowing but they work well within the levels, the technology works flawlessly, and tilt sequences never overstay their welcome.


Finally, the StreetPass use, like the rest of the hardware specific features, is pleasant despite being insubstantial. There are keychain collectables hidden around the levels that take the form of nostalgic and recent Kirby sprites. It’s a very Smash Bros. kind of collectable right down to the keychain viewer where you can go to view your keychains. I don’t think too many people are going to be invested in getting every bizarre Kirby transformation and baddie, but it’s satisfying to watch the display case fill up and you can StreetPass to pick up rare keychains that are tough to track down otherwise.


So, even though Kirby Triple Deluxe looks as generic as these games come in screenshots and trailers, I’ve discovered it to be thoughtfully designed to get the most out of the 3DS. I might be sad that the gameplay fundamentals in Triple Deluxe didn’t change to fit the system like they did on the DS, but what HAL created here makes a lot of sense. Even though this isn’t necessarily a game made for me, it’s been made so well that it found a place in my heart anyway.


Food for thought:


1. The Super Smash Bros. similarities don’t end at the keychain collection. Kirby’s picked up a block and air dodge move on the shoulder buttons that’s extremely similar to smash brothers. There’s also a side mode that features some of Kirby’s more fleshed out move sets as permanent characters that plays like Smash, features a single player mode straight out of Smash 64, and I swear playing as sword Kirby in that mode is just playing Link in Smash Bros.


2. I tested playing with the 3D slider off and it would definitely be possible to play Kirby Triple Deluxe on a 2DS, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Few games benefit more from keeping that 3D slider cranked up.


3. Kirby Triple Deluxe follows in the recent footsteps of Kirby: Return to Dreamland and Kirby’s Epic Yarn in having an introductory movie that’s way nicer than a game like this really needs. I appreciate HAL putting in the extra context, since I really felt like all three of these movies did a good job of setting the tone for their respective games. However nothing here is as classic as “‘This grass feels funny,’ Kirby thought. ‘It feels like… pants.’”

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  • Sapitntapit

    I”m actually getting pretty excited for this game. Can’t wait to try out that multiplayer.

  • Suicunesol

    Regarding the simple level and platforming design, did you have the same sentiments about Kirby Superstar?

    You didn’t mention the different game play modes either, which was one of Superstars bigger draws. I thought Triple Deluxe had them too.

    • Ethan_Twain

      I passed on Kirby Superstar! Like mentioned, I’m not the biggest classic Kirby fan so I don’t keep up with every one of those. I did play Return to Dreamland though so that was my main point of reference for what Nintendo’s been doing with the formula lately.

      My super professional authoritative opinion: Triple Deluxe is way better than Return to Dreamland.

      • RtD was more or less a level pack for Super Star

  • Necr0naut

    Before I finish reading this review I would just like to point out…

    “Meanwhile, games like Kirby Canvas Curse make me think that calls for new Nintendo IP are misguided. Just look at this unorthodox game released under one of Nintendo’s oldest labels! Kirby has proven that creativity and new gameplay ideas can manifest without a new character to represent them.”

    • Akimitsu

      The only problem is that people complain when those new ideas are presented using the old characters (see something like Mario Sunshine when it first came out), but people complain when it’s the same old game over and over.

      • Necr0naut

        There is a very easy way to tell when you’re doing something right: Follow the money. ‘People’ can and will say whatever they want, what matters is if they put their money where their mouths are.

        ‘People’ complain about a lot of things that they would have you believe ‘bastardize’ a franchise and once they are done ranting they go and buy said game on release day. That’s a pretty good indicator that you’re doing something right, regardless of whether or not you upset some very vocal subset in the process. To use your own example, Super Mario Sunshine went on to become the Gamecube’s third best selling game, conlusion? People’s pockets speak louder than their mouths and more often than not refreshing changes on well-established franchises ship more units. That’s not ignoring their customers, that’s listening to what they are REALLY saying.

        • GH56734

          That said I wish Nintendo was a bit less risk averse. They took the floating concept from Kirby and made a whole new IP around it (the Legendary Starfy games on GBA/DS) and it paid off for sure (a best seller)! but still didn’t localize it because it was “too unique”. It took Atlus and a software drought for them to bring games like Animal Crossing, Cubivore, Chibi-Robo..; from Japan (not so much during the more relaxed DS/Wii gen)

          • Necr0naut

            Yup, in some regards Nintendo is their own worst enemy and one tough enemy at that since they can be pretty pigheaded when they want. At least they eventually came around with Starfy and the rest of the franchises you mention so yay!

          • Elizabeth ‘Ely’ Moreno

            Nintendo really seems to be learning from this, at least partially. I mean, they decided to take the risk with Bravely Default even when the original distributor didn’t believe in it, and we could have only dreamed with having Tomodachi Life in the West. They still need to learn a lot, but at least they are… progressing somehow.

  • 하세요

    Hm, still deciding on this or Mario Golf, but I’m leaning towards more Mario Golf since I see more longevity. I’m really excited for the whole mini-Smash Bros thing but with summer coming up I won’t be with friends to fight against and playing computers will get dry, fast.

  • Ethan_Twain

    An additional thought I had but I cut because this playtest went way long already:

    For a company that gets so much mileage out of rereleasing their old games, Nintendo isn’t doing themselves any favors with their unusual hardware and hardware specific software. Kirby Triple Deluxe is as good as any formula Kirby game to come before it, but without a 3D screen and a gyroscope they just won’t be able to rerelease it in a few decades the way they can with older Kirby games.

    Could Mario Sunshine even work as a digital rerelease on the Wii U without those wonderfully spongy shoulder buttons to control water flow? Will I be able to play Mario Galaxy on the Nintendo Wii 4 since it was built for wii remote control? There are a lot of modern Nintendo classics that are pretty hardware specific the way Triple Deluxe is. I wonder what will happen to them :(

    • GH56734

      Emulation, and the New Play Control series, would prove that yes, it is possible. 3D screens will be more widespread eventually, and they can figure out ways to replace those controls.

    • Hinataharem

      Yeesh, never thought about that

    • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

      Well, while there is a truth one what u said, there are also another side of the coin which shows that we are certain going to lose tons of those unique experience if Nintendo simply decided to stay only on one track. So i don’t know what is a better here.

      At least, i know i am going to enjoy this game a lot.^_^

    • I kind of agree with Sunshine but Galaxy? They could easily map the spin to a button and it’d work smoothly. Motion controls in Galaxy were pretty minimal.
      Didn’t they do this with Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D? They removed the (rather useless) waggling and I don’t think anyone misses much.

      Now! One game that was awfully empty to play without its original input? Donkey Kong Jungle Beat Wii. Playing the game without the kongos feels just…wrong.

  • NintendoPSXTheSecond

    But Kirby’s not a game for kids! His games are rated E, E being for Everyone. Not K for Kid’s. Just saying. Also he’s a murderous sociopath.

    • ZnTxn

      Indeed he is.

    • GH56734
      They seem to get far darker than expected during end-game. Even the series they inspired, Stafy, has shades of this (you rip away skin from the face of the final boss in the fourth game, and LOTS of characters die)

  • ETPhoneHome99

    I’ve had this game for a while. Triple Deluxe was my first Kirby game, and I gave the game a flyer, admittedly not expecting much because the character never really interested me. It turned out to be not only a pleasant surprise, but one of my favorite 3DS games to date… and one of the most memorable platformers I’ve played in recent memory.

    As mentioned by the person who wrote this article, the 3D effects are well-done. It rivals Mario 3D Land in how seamless the stereoscopic effects are done to accentuate the look of the game, without being overbearing or forced. I couldn’t imagine playing without the 3D effects, to be honest.

    Kirby also has a ton of abilities to memorize with each persona he changes into. Being a newcomer to Kirby, I didn’t realize how different the inputs were to get Kirby to do special attacks with each and every persona. It makes it feel like you’re learning different characters in a fighting game, which is great since I love fighters. It makes each persona feel unique, and it definitely encourages players to try out each persona extensively to find our favorite ones.

    The game also has the right amount of challenge. The first couple of worlds weren’t too hard, but it had a nice curve as time went on… started dying more often and had to really think my way through several parts of the game to progress. I never had a true “Game Over” moment by losing all of my lives (the game is pretty generous with them via the bonus stage at the end of each level), but I came close a few times. The last world was quite challenging, but not to the point where I got frustrated.

    Finished the game a while back and taking a break from it, but I’ll come back to it to collect all the keychains in the game. I highly recommend that you give this game a try. You may be as pleasantly surprised as I was!

  • Spirit Macardi

    I just wish they’d make Kirby games in the style of Kirby 64 again. Actually taking advantage of the 2.5D aspect by having the camera move dynamically and having the path twist and turn even though you still control Kirby in 2D.

    I’ve grown really tired of supposed 2.5D games that only have the action shown from the side, since what’s the point? You might as well just have the game be sprite-based if that’s all you’re doing.

    • E.T.993

      Your idea’s freakin’ awesome…even if I still don’t mind buying this game.

      • Spirit Macardi

        It’s not even really my idea. Like I said, it was used before by Kirby 64 as well as the Klonoa series.

    • That sounds less like Kirby 64 and more like Klonoa, to me.
      Kirby 64 played the 2.5D aspect pretty straight even if the camera was slightly more dynamic than the usual 2.5D sidescroller, unless my memory is failing.
      Klonoa makes full usage of the 2.5D by letting you interact with different routes and foreground objects, which is what many more 2.5D platformers should do, I agree.

  • Prinny Dood

    Im still buying it dood!

  • Krisi92

    …You know that blocking actually comes from Kirby Super Star, a game that came out way before Smash Bros?

    • 하세요

      He’s talking about the button layout, not blocking itself.

      • Ethan_Twain

        Nope, actually I just had no idea =P

        • 하세요

          Well I tried to defend ya!

    • Ethan_Twain

      Nope! I’ve never played Kirby Super Star, I had no idea. That can be rough when playtesting Nintendo games – unless you’ve played every installment through however many decades of games there may have been it’s easy to mistake an old feature as a new one.

      For example, it blew my mind going back and playing Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the first time this past year and discovering that Oracle of Ages and Seasons were complete engine lifts. The assets, the control, the grid maps, even certain tracks of music were straight up Link’s Awakening content. Oracle of Ages and Seasons were key childhood games for me and I never had any notion at all that they were so derivative.

      • Krisi92

        Haha, that’s true! :)
        By the way, you should really play Super Star (or rather its remake for the DS, Kirby Super Star Ultra), because in my opinion, it’s the best in the series. I haven’t played Triple Deluxe, however, as I have to wait for its release here for two more weeks…

  • Andy Abramo

    Kirby Super Star’s Arena mode is actually hard…

    • GH56734

      Getting 100% in that game is surprisingly hard. Those were the days..

  • KingGunblader

    I’m really glad that there is pretty much always good stuff coming out for 3DS, because games like Yoshi’s New Island and Kirby Triple Deluxe don’t get much more than a resounding yawn from me.

    That being said, Canvas Curse was freaking awesome, so thank you for pointing that out.

    • GH56734

      Yup, it was my first DS game, and my first Kirby game, and I loved every single moment of it. I wish it had more content though, or a proper continuation… but then again I did get the equally awesome yet different enough Atsumete Kirby/Mass Attack.

  • pokeroi

    Finally I won’t suck at platformer….oh wait…

  • Hinataharem

    I will always love you Kirby, no matter how old I get

  • “(…) the way great side-scrolling action games do (…) Castlevania III’s
    levels would be child’s play to navigate through as one of the more
    mobile protagonists from recent iterations, but because the player can’t
    alter jump arcs or attack at angles, those levels are compelling and
    difficult. ”

    I’ll complain about something likely completely irrelevant but whatever xD

    Grant Danasty in Castlevania III has complete aerial control but didn’t make the platforming any easier due to how the ladder mechanics work and the enemy placement of the game is frustrating.
    I did a recent playthrough of Castlevania III and I honestly don’t think it’s challenging, it goes way past that and it’s just frustrating. There’s layers upon layers of things that you cannot predict unless you die.
    This is sucker punch level design.

    Kirby games may come off as bland due to the lack of challenge factor of some games but I feel it’s…strange to compare it to Castlevania III or name it as a “great side-scrolling action game”. Castlevania III went out of its way to change the damage enemies do depending on how far in the game you are and add bullshit falling platforms you cannot predict until you get there. It’s trying too hard to be hard for me, honestly.

    I think Rondo of Blood is where they struck the perfect balance of challenge and fun. The lack of bullshit bottomless pits helps a bunch, too.

    That said, I can really understand why many don’t see a lot of appeal on Kirby’s formula and find it weak. Just felt like venting out some CVIII frustration since I literally played it like last month hahahaha

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