Few games turn me into a pacifist the way Kirby: Triple Deluxe did. Throughout the span of my 11 hours with the game, I met some enemies too adorable to slay, even if I did so while wearing a jester’s hat. Of course, this game is more than a fantastic art style—much, much more.
During an otherwise peaceful night, a gigantic “dreamstalk” grows out of the ground, mirroring the tale of a famous Jack. A new villain kidnaps Kind Dedede, and Kirby takes action, starting with World 1-1. We are given little story in the beginning of Triple Deluxe, but that’s the point.
One of the first things you notice about Kirby: Triple Deluxe is just how impressive this game looks. It makes great use of the 3DS’ screen, with objects popping in and out of the foreground, a second layer of the world to warp to, and bright colors painting a beautifully radiant landscape. The same tech behind 2011’s Return to Dreamland powers this game, and the engine translates very well to the handheld.
While this adventure looks good, and the visuals pop in 3D, it is unevenly paced. The levels do have a steady progression of challenge, but it’s not always smooth. Usually through a boss battle, the pacing draws to a halt, and all of the fluffy characters and adorable music are gone as you curse under your breath at an attack that couldn’t otherwise be avoided. I was never stuck on a boss, but I don’t recall ever having fun during one, either. The final chapter’s overreliance on these battles halts the pace; turning an otherwise very creative chapter into a grind through remixed battles of enemies you’ve already seen. The final few moments redeem things a bit—the final fight is a spectacularly cute set piece that won’t be ruined here.
The game is at its best when you get the new Hypernova ability, which allows Kirby to eat much larger foes. Oftentimes, it’s incredibly satisfying, and the ability stays with you until the end of the level, making it even more empowering.
After completing the game, you unlock some new modes. There is a rhythm-based game where King Dedede bounces across drums, a Smash Bros.-style fighter with multiplayer, and a post game where you play a shortened, slightly more challenging mode as King Dedede. The main game will take you eight to nine hours to finish, and the second playthrough as Dedede took just under two hours, with the aid of hidden warp portals.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe is a fun time, and kept me smiling in unexpected ways. The team at Hal’s Laboratory knows cute, and it shows confidently in Triple Deluxe. Aside from some pacing issues and a slow beginning, it shines on the 3DS with spectacular visuals, inspired level design, and a plethora of modes. If you’re hungry for a platformer on the go, Kirby: Triple Deluxe will satisfy.