Sunday 17 December 2017

Kirby's back with another absorbing adventure

REVIEWED: Kirby Triple Deluxe, Lego The Hobbit, Strike Suit Zero The Director's Cut

Kirby Triple Deluxe for Nintendo 3DS
Lego The Hobbit videogame
Strike Force Suit: Director's Cut
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Nintendo 3DS

RATING: 8.5/10

AGE: 3+

A CHEERY pink blob who inhales his enemies to absorb their powers – what’s not to like? Kirby has entertained us in a similar fashion for two decades without ever achieving the deserved recognition afforded other Nintendo mascots such as Mario or Link.

Perhaps it's because failure is rarely likely in Kirby games – the challenge is minimal and maybe the saccharine flavour is hard to swallow for older players.

As 2011’s Epic Yarn showed, though, Kirby’s sheer inventiveness makes him a delight to watch and his worlds a pleasure to explore. Triple Deluxe falls a little short of that brilliance but still serves up a feast for the senses, with 3D playing an important part.

The title refers to the three game variants packed into one cartridge, though only the familiar platformer mode stands up to long-term scrutiny. The others – a brawler in the style of Super Smash Bros and a rhythm-action game – are short-lived diversions.

The main mode is worth the price of admission, however. Its six worlds unfold across a varied path, mixing 2D side-scrolling with layered backgrounds and regular 3D tricks.

Enemies and Kirby himself flit between the layers in a joyous dance that exposes hidden areas and concealed ambushes. Meanwhile, the pink blob acquires a fresh set of powers, such as the scenery-wrecking supernova and the hilarious circus-juggler attack.

Determined players may blast through the six worlds all too rapidly. But there is replay value in finding all the secrets and Kirby has a whimsical charm that never wears thin.

PS4/XOne/ X360/PS3/PC

RATING: 7.5/10

AGE: 7+

YOU should know what to expect by now: an irreverent brick-smashing riff on a revered franchise. This is at least the seventh such variation in the last year to come off the Lego conveyor belt.

The Hobbit grounds itself in the first two films of the ongoing Peter Jackson trilogy, whizzing from Bilbo Baggins’ Bag End to Smaug’s lair in sometimes bewildering leaps. Unless you’re a close disciple of the book, you may find it hard to follow what’s happening plot-wise and fall back on the Lego default of just bashing everything to bits until the game lets you move on.

The characters, save for Gandalf, lack much personality and it’s hard to tell the crew of dwarves apart, which is a problem when you need a specific one for a particular task.

Aside from a small innovation via a loot-crafting system, LTH is very much business as usual, which is to say definitely fun but lacking in surprises.

PS4/XOne/PC download

RATING: 6.5/10

AGE: 7+

ORIGINALLY funded on PC by a Kickstarter campaign, space dogfighter SSZ jumps to the next-gen consoles with extra DLC on-board. It crosses the swooping combat of TIE Fighter with a healthy dollop of Transformers but ends up feeling a bit of a mutant.

While it looks pretty and the novelty factor of controlling a nimble spaceship piques the interest, it unfortunately descends into a repetitive slog against wave after wave of enemy craft. Even the option to switch temporarily into the form of a giant robot with massive firepower proves frustrating due to its lumbering manoeuvrability.

With a few patches to improve checkpointing and trim the flabby battles, SSZ could be a much better game at an affordable price.



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