Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Demo Hotness: Kirby Planet Robobot

As a fan of the Kirby games from back in the Super NES days, I was pretty intrigued when I heard all the praise heaped on Kirby Planet Robobot earlier this year. Considering that Kirby Super Star for SNES would easily be one of my desert island games, this new Kirby would have a high bar to reach, but I decided to give the demo a spin.

The demo offered two stages a "Normal Stage" and a "Robobot Stage", and the first of the two was certainly true to its name: the most bog-standard basic Kirby stage one could imagine.  The very basic layout of the stage did give me the opportunity to admire how far Kirby games have come in terms of graphics, however. While the music was a pleasant arrangement of a classic Kirby tune, I was somewhat disappointed that I wasn't greeted with an original composition. It was pretty clear from this stage that any gameplay innovation that could be present would be entirely concentrated in the Robobot stage.

The Robobot stage definitely delivered. Once Kirby acquires his mech, the whole game really comes alive. Controlling the mech and destroying enemies and obstacles was very satisfying. In addition to the upping the intensity of the action, the mech gameplay also incorporated some light puzzle-solving elements, which was a nice touch. By selectively destroying objects and powering up the mech appropriately for the environment, Kirby is able to find secret areas and gather some extra collectables. I was also pleased to find that boarding the mech causes the background music to change from a classic Kirby piece to a catchy new jam.

After playing through both stages, I was definitely impressed with the gameplay enhancements the titular Robobot provides, but was left wondering what the ratio of normal stages to Robobot stages would be in the full game. As much as I enjoyed the cute presentation of the whole package, if the mech gameplay doesn't make up the bulk of the game, there might not be enough new stuff here to draw in a long-time Kirby player like me, especially without the co-op mode that was a key feature of the classic games.

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