Ever since his NES and Game Boy debut in the early 90s, Kirby has become one of Nintendo's most iconic and unique characters. He gets his powers from sucking up enemies into his body and then digesting them. He puts them to good use fighting different enemies, including his series-long nemesis, King Dedede.
Next month, the big pink puffball will make his return to the 3DS with Kirby: Triple Deluxe, a game that combines a number of classic gameplay elements from his previous adventures will all-new abilities.
The main draw of Triple Deluxe is a Story Mode, where Kirby finds his house raised into the clouds by a mysterious beanstalk. Normally, King Dedede is behind such a catastrophe, but he ends up being kidnapped by a strange force. Determined to save his household and would-be adversary, Kirby sets out to battle this new enemy.
As before, Kirby gains powers by eating enemies that he runs across. Several classic abilities make their return, including the Sword (which gives Kirby the ability to slash enemies), Needle (which lets him grow porcupine-like spikes out of his body) and the Beam (which lets him shoot laser beams out of his body). Some new abilities have also been thrown in for good measure, including the Archer (which lets Kirby shoot arrows archer-style at enemies) and the Hypernova.
This new ability deserves its own paragraph, because it's a genuine game-changer. Once digested, Kirby can utilize the Hypernova to transform into a large, rainbow-colored character that eats entire parts of a stage. As a result, he can open up new areas to explore, as well as collect bonus items, including Easter eggs that can unlock new stages altogether.
Collectibles provide Triple Deluxe with a heaping amount of replay value. As he continues his journey, Kirby can find a number of things, including keychains. By getting more of these, players can put together a custom collection, which they can share with others through Street Pass. As a result, they can try to complete a personal collection while helping others.
Along with the main story mode, Kirby: Triple Deluxe also comes with a pair of mini-games that will keep players busy – King Dedede's Drum Beat and Kirby Fighters.
King Dedede's Drum Beat is a music/rhythm style event. In this game, Kirby's adversary jumps across various platforms, keeping up with the beat by clapping his hands and collecting coins scattered throughout. There are three levels to this game, with a beginner stage that makes it easy to get into, followed by two more challenging levels.
As for Kirby Fighters, it's definitely a precursor to the beat-em-up madness that will come with Super Smash Bros. on the 3DS this summer. Up to four players can join in and choose from a single ability on a list (10 will be included, with more to be unlocked later). Once they decide which skill they want to use, they'll battle against their opponents, and the last standing Kirby wins.
However, the game doesn't simply end with a one-strike-and-you're-out rule. Once a player is defeated, they can actually return as a ghost and try to get back into the match by landing a hit on another player. This is an interesting "second chance" element that should keep each fight interesting. There's no word if this activity will feature Wi-Fi connectivity support, so it might be local only. Still, this is a great way to get friends together, even for just a few quick fights.
With its traditional side-scrolling tactics and plenty of old and new abilities to enjoy, Kirby: Triple Deluxe could be one of Nintendo's most innovative titles for the summer season. Along with a story mode with hours' worth of play (and interesting effects from the Hypernova), the two additional dance and fight modes should keep players busy.
We'll have full coverage on the game – including the best abilities to use and tips on the additional modes – when it arrives for both digital and retail May 2nd.