Is there anyone out there that doesn't like Kirby? Even if you don't love the oblivious pink puffball who can swallow anything, you at least have to admit that he does two things extremely well. Kirby excels at being cute and allowing gamers to celebrate the final days of a Nintendo platform. With new Nintendo hardware on the horizon, the Nintendo 3DS is slowly fading into irrelevance, and Kirby: Planet Robobot succeeds at being a shining star in the platform's shrinking release calendar.
As with most Kirby games, the beginning of Kirby: Planet Robobot sees our pink hero taking a nap underneath a tree. Since Kirby is a heavy sleeper, he ends up sleeping through an invasion of robots. King Dedede and Meta Knight do erase this menace from the surface of Planet Popstar, but their efforts are in vain, and it's up to Kirby to run and jump across his home planet and eat as many robots as he can along the way. From there, the narrative elements are what you would expect, although there are plenty of easter eggs waiting just below the surface for longtime fans of the series.
Planet Robobot acts as a direct sequel to Kirby: Triple Deluxe, meaning that you'll be floating, copying abilities, and generally breezing your way through your first run of the game. When you're playing as Kirby, not much has changed here, and the game retains the wonderfully casual platform fun that most Kirby games provide. Nothing takes the stress out of a long day like sitting down, sucking up a Waddle Dee, and finishing a handful of stages.
The big difference between this game and its predecessor is the titular robot suit, which Kirby steals from the invasion force and converts into his personal device of doom. Just like Kirby, the mech can absorb enemies and integrate their abilities into its arsenal. These transformations were more engaging than the standard Kirby powers, as the strength of the mech suit meant that you were able to rip apart the environment and take down previously indestructible foes.
A pair of mech powers change the game entirely, allowing you to fly through casual SHUMP stages or race along a track with no means of stopping. These levels provide decent variety to the experience and don't overstay their welcome. I do wish that the New Game + mode wasn't solely devoted to playing as Meta Knight because I would have enjoyed seeing a set of more challenging stages that utilize some of the mech suit's more unique offerings.
As hinted at above, beating the game once unlocks two new options to play through the campaign again. The MetaKnightmare Returns mode is designed for more dedicated players, as it strips out the world map and times your progress as you tear through a harder version of the main campaign as Meta Knight. Since the game is already pretty short, this mode provides a good way for Kirby fans to test their skills, although playing as Meta Knight isn't nearly as fun since he can't steal abilities from foes. The other unlockable is The Arena, which is a boss rush mode that is similar in structure to All-Star Mode from Super Smash Bros.
Planet Robobot also packs in two other mini-games from the start just like its predecessor. Team Kirby Clash is a cooperative RPG where players pick a Kirby ability and stick with it while trying to take down massive creatures. Kirby 3D Rumble is a bit of a departure, placing you as Kirby on a 3D plane and challenging you to clear screens of enemies solely by absorbing and spitting out objects. 3D Rumble is interesting in itself because it seems modeled after one of Nintendo's failed attempts to create a Kirby platformer on the Gamecube. Neither of these minigames have the staying power of Triple Deluxe's offerings, but they're a fun distraction and a great way to play Kirby with friends.
Like most Nintendo games being released nowadays, Kirby: Planet Robobot supports Amiibos, and not just the new Kirby ones that have been created alongside the game. Scanning most any Amiibo will grant you a copy ability that corresponds to the character, which adds a bit to the chaos of each stage, but also makes an easy game even easier to complete. Scanning Kirby specific Amiibo will grant you better prizes, such as the otherwise absent UFO and Smash Bros. abilities, or more common abilities with different costumes.
If I had to criticize anything about Planet Robobot, I'd say that the game is exactly what you expect from a new Kirby adventure. The game lasts a handful of hours, and most gamers will breeze right through it in just a few sessions. It's calm and relaxing, but you have to dig to get at the challenge or story bits that are layered underneath the core game. The Kirby faithful will dig in without hesitation, and the rest will simply have another great Nintendo platformer to pass the time with.
Kirby: Planet Robobot was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS with a copy purchased by the reviewer.
Kirby: Planet Robobot is another fun ride through Planet Popstar that only falters in its lack of innovation and short length.