How can anyone not like Kirby? For this week’s episode of Kotaku Splitscreen, I got my two cohosts to try out Kirby: Planet Robobot because I won a bet. Kirk has never played a Kirby game before, whereas Jason is just a sceptic. By the time they’ve beaten this game, they’ll both be dedicated Kirby fans, just like me.
First up, we talk about the other games we’re playing, with Kirk still on Dragon’s Dogma, me on Death Stranding, and Jason replaying Divinity Original Sin 2. After a break (33:27), we get into Kirby: Planet Robobot discussion, then talk about the news, particularly the ways that coronavirus has affected the video games industry this past week. We close with off-topic discussion about Uncut Gems, RoboCop, The Witcher Netflix show, and Better Call Saul, as well as Kirk’s music pick.
Get the MP3 here or read an excerpt below.
Jason: Kirby: Planet Robobot is a 3DS game by Nintendo. The three of us are all playing it because Maddy won our annual predictions bet for 2019. She got the most predictions right. I think Kirk and I both got zero.
Kirk: We tied for second. Let’s put it that way.
Maddy: Kirk has a debatable half-point.
Jason: But we decided a while ago, no half-points. So it doesn’t count. So we are all playing Kirby: Planet Robobot. I don’t know how how far you guys are.
Maddy: I’ve beaten it all before, the first time I played it. I played it when it came out, loved it, and got all the code cubes. I never collected all the stickers, nor did I ever expect you two to do that, but I believe I at least recommended getting all the code cubes.
Jason: The code cubes are fun. There are some fun little puzzles to go and find. I’ll give some initial impressions and then I’ll throw it to you guys for thoughts.
Maddy: Sure. I’m in Area 4 now. Somewhere in the middle of game.
Kirk: You’re farther than me. I just thought, Jason, when you said a little background, that you were gonna say, “Kirby is the round pink life-form from Planet Popstar who possesses infinite power and can inhale enemies to copy their abilities.”
Maddy: Infinite! Infinite power.
Jason: What’s the planet name?
Kirk / Maddy: Popstar!
Maddy: That’s where Kirby’s from. Duh.
Jason: Kirby is from the movie starring Andy Samberg?
Kirk: He’s from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.
Maddy: I can tell you haven’t paused the game, Jason, because if you pause the game it will tell you this important information about Kirby that Kirk just read to you.
Kirk: I found that information very helpful. Now we all know who Kirby is.
Jason: Actually, I lost some progress annoyingly because I was playing on the subway, and then my battery died, and I was like, “God damn it.” Some initial impressions: It’s adorable. I really like all the little secrets you can find. I really like what they’re doing with a lot of 3D foregrounds and backgrounds. It’s clearly meant for the 3DS. It’s fun to play through. It’s just an enjoyable, pleasant game. It’s a very joyful game.
But the reason that Kirby — there are two reasons that Kirby has never really stuck with me, even though Kirby is my Smash main. The Kirby games have not really stuck with me for two reasons. One is that they’re super easy, and that’s still the case with Planet Robobot. Two is that the actual mechanics of floating around and controlling Kirby and sucking things up and spitting them out and doing his little dash, are just not as enjoyable or satisfying for me as other platformers. Like a Hollow Knight, or a Mario Odyssey. Mario Odyssey is the type of game where I can play it just for the sheer joy of controlling Mario and throwing the hat and jumping around. There’s nothing like that for me with Kirby, unfortunately.
Maddy: What about getting into the mechs? Do you think that’s fun in this game?
Jason: The mechs, yes. The mech is quite fun.
Maddy: Good news: That will continue and increase.
Jason: Great! I like the mech a lot.
Kirk: Can we describe the opening mech sequence to listeners? There’s this amazing sequence. You’re playing as this little floaty pink creature, and then you get in the fuckin’ mech. It’s this huge mech suit. Kirby gets in it and basically like a super anime princess transformation video plays. The mech becomes magically the same pink as Kirby. And then this awesome-arse music starts playing. Then you just destroy your way through the rest of the level, just punching giant things that were blocking your way before. It’s really good. That’s all I wanted to say. It’s really good.
Maddy: Also you can copy abilities as the mech. It has all these different looks for the mech that are satisfying in their own ways.
Kirk: So good! The one with the propeller blades? I just got that one, where you fly with the blades.
Maddy: Or the rock one, where you have these two rock fists? I don’t know if you’re far enough yet. It’s pretty great. Just the action — this game feels very tactile to me. I totally get how somebody wouldn’t like a Kirby game, but things about this particular Kirby game that I like are just the way that it feels and the way that it controls. I like controlling Kirby but I also like the way the mechs feel. There are all of these moments where you have to unscrew a screw. The game is super into letting you unscrew screws, and it feels awesome.
Kirk: Because you do it with the circle pad!
Maddy: With the little circle pad, yeah. You’re in a huge mech, you have a huge equivalent of a screwdriver, and you’re just screwing things around and moving shit. I don’t know. It feels awesome. It’s just a really pleasant game.
Kirk: Yeah. I agree that it is a really good-feeling game. I get what you’re saying, Jason, about the basic movement, which is a little weird for me, partly because I don’t know if there’s a way to switch the buttons, but jumping with the far-right of the diamond is a little weird for me. I’m used to jumping with the bottom of the diamond of face buttons.
Maddy: I bet you can change that.
Kirk: I haven’t really looked. I paused it to try to get to the options menu, and then instead that thing I was reading popped up where it just tells you Kirby’s backstory, and I was like, “Oh, ok.”
Maddy: I guess that’s all of the options in this game!
Kirk: It’s useful! This is my first Kirby game!