Kirby’s Blowout Blast Game Review - Nintendo 3DS

Blasting onto a 3DS Near You!

  • System: 3DS
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Release Date: July 6, 2017

Who it Caters to

When you think about it, Nintendo’s dragged its feet when it comes to adapting many of its legacy franchises into 3D. Outside of some isolated examples like Donkey Kong 64 and Wario World, most of their series that began in 2D have stuck to 2D gameplay, while Mario, Zelda, and Metroid have been allowed to flourish in the third dimension. Kirby has been stuck to movement on a single plane, graphical style be damned.

Kirby’s Blowout Blast attempts to rectify this situation. We actually got a taste of it in Kirby 3D Rumble: a mini-game included in last year’s Kirby Planet Robobot. Kirby’s Blowout Blast expands on the arena-style gameplay of that title by connecting each battle gauntlet with small platforming sections to introduce you to upcoming mechanics you’ll need to make use of in the next enemy wave.

What to Expect

If you’re expecting a full Kirby experience, complete with copying enemy powers and expansive levels with hidden collectibles, you might want to look elsewhere. Kirby’s Blowout Blast instead seeks to bring the Kirby franchise back to its utmost basics. Your only abilities are to jump, fly, and suck up and spit out enemies. The result is a more arcade-y experience, with a focus on achieving high scores.

Much of the game feels like it’s a test run for what could be done with a full-fledged 3D Kirby experience. Levels still progress in a linear fashion, leading you down a set path. Along these paths you’ll find some situations that have never been so bluntly addressed in a Kirby game. For example, you’ll need to learn to deal with Kirby’s ever expanding body, making it so if you want to carry a large shot with you, you’ll need to thread some narrow, dangerous spaces that you’d be able to fit if you were just a bit smaller. Or maybe you’ll have to make out silhouettes of enemies behind walls and determine if they’re inhalable or not. There are so many different, minor ideas that feel like HAL Laboratory was just throwing in what they could just to see what would stick.

Kirby’s Blowout Blast – Nintendo 3DS Launch Trailer:

Story

Like any other good Kirby game, the story takes a back seat to the action. In fact, it’s so non-present in Kirby’s Blowout Blast that we’re not sure if it’s even there. You’re effectively thrown right into the game with no explanation for anything. You’ll encounter some recurring bosses from the franchise like Kracko and King Dedede, but that’s about as much as you’ll get.
However, while the game never explicitly states it, one could argue that Blowout Blast is a retelling of the original Kirby’s Dreamland for the Gameboy. The progression is about the same, with the game throwing a one-on-one encounter with Lololo before later reintroducing him with Lalala or putting you up against Kracko Jr. before he grows into the fully formed Kracko. It doesn’t have all the fights from that game, but the simplistic nature of introducing these bosses beforehand recollects the same feeling as from the original Kirby’s Dreamland. Ultimately, it feels like an intentional callback to that game to drive home a point; if we’re going to rethink Kirby in a new dimension, then we need to go back to its roots.

Gameplay

You’ll suck up enemies, spit them back out at others. This is the core concept that Kirby was based on and then was seemingly forgotten over time when they started focusing on all the different uses of the powers and how you could use them to interact with the environment. Instead, Kirby’s Blowout Blast revisits that concept and moves Kirby away from being a platformer and instead refocuses it as an action game. Everything is based around sucking up as many enemies as possible, and then maximizing how many enemies you can hit at once, as the more you inhale, the bigger your shot (called a Blaster Bullet) will be.

What works about this system is how it’s used almost as a puzzle game that works in two phases. When you’re not engorged with a Blaster Bullet and are presented with a group of enemies, you’ll need to figure out how to group them all together so you can inhale them all at once. Assuming you’re in one of the arena sections, this will cause the next group of enemies to appear, and from there you’ll need to figure out how to line up as many as you can to hit as many as possible. If you fail to inhale every enemy possible during this first stage, then you’ll need to waste your Blaster Bullet to defeat the remaining enemies. This will hurt your overall score, as your points increase exponentially with every enemy to defeat, starting when you first inhale enemies (you’ll gain 100 points, 200 for the second enemy, etc), and then carrying over to when you shoot out your Blaster Bullet to defeat remaining enemies.

The implied dual nature of the game’s central mechanic creates some very satisfying gameplay since both elements keep one another from becoming stale. Despite what was laid out above, these phases are not clearly defined. You’ll occasionally have sections where there are enemies that you must defeat, but can’t actually inhale. Or sometimes enemies are so far spaced apart that there’s no guarantee you’ll actually be able to suck them all up at once. Figuring out the optimal definition of these “phases” is really where the fun of Kirby’s Blowout Blast comes from.

Driving the gameplay is the promise of unlockable levels. All you need to do is get a gold trophy (determined by your end score) on every stage of a world to unlock an “EX” version of said world. These roughly have the same stage layout, but with new enemy placements, added enemies, reduced time limits, and lowered maximum health. This works pretty well, as, thankfully, the bar to achieve a gold trophy on a stage is balanced in such a way that it doesn’t require absolute perfection. It’s just enough to make you feel like you’ve got a solid handle on the mechanics. Gaining a gold on all the EX levels will unlock one final, intense world that won’t let you die even once or refill your health after each level. For diehard fans who want even more, the game provides platinum trophies which require pinpoint accuracy and timing to achieve.

There is one unfortunate downside to all of this. While the art is bright and colorful, it can be difficult at times to tell where you are aiming. When inhaling, you have a little cone of air that should signify the range. However, your suction seems to extend just a little past where the cone actually is. This may cause you to over rely on the undefined hit box to suck things up, leading to some messed up combos due to enemies just barely being off to the side enough that you’ll miss them. This might also be due to the camera perspective, which can change throughout the course of the game. As mentioned, this can be used creatively at times, but the constant shifting can mess with your depth perception, with enemies looking closer than they actually are. Naturally, the 3D functionality of the 3DS is used to help combat this, but if you’re not used to it, then this can be more of a headache than it might be worth to you.

Compounding on all this is aiming with the shots, which, while tight enough, can be a bit slippery due to the nature of the Circle Pad. We found ourselves getting our shots aligned, only to slip at the very last second and miss one enemy by a hair. It’s not enough to say it ruins the experience, but it happened enough where we noticed it.

Finally, there’s not much in the way of content. If you just run through the main game without worrying about rankings and unlocking EX Levels, Kirby’s Blowout Blast will probably only run you about an hour. Unlocking the EX levels and mastering those is probably more interesting than the actual main game, as there’s no real need to master any of the mechanics as they are. Unlocking and completing all the EX levels will probably add another couple of hours to your game time, ending at around 3-4 in total. It’s priced fairly at only $6.99, but people hoping for a meaty game length are going to be disappointed unless they are diehard completionists who want to go a step further and go for the platinum trophies.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

Honey’s Gameplay Analysis
The appeal of Kirby’s Blowout Blast comes down to one simple question: are you interested in seeing how a Kirby game would play in 3D? If your answer is yes, then Kirby’s Blowout Blast should satisfy. If no, then the attraction is going to be the arcade-style gameplay and shooting for high scores. Admittedly, there aren’t many of these types of games that make full use of 3D gameplay. However, if that doesn’t sound like it’s up your alley, then Kirby’s Blowout Blast is probably going to be a pass.

Honey's Pros:

  • Satisfying puzzle-esque arcade gameplay
  • Attractive, colorful visuals that draw you in
  • Simple but well-balanced and rewarding unlockable system
  • Cheap pricing

Honey's Cons:

  • Extremely short; not worth it for people who want substantial game time
  • Some frustrating conveyance issues with the core gameplay mechanics

Final Thoughts

For only $6.99, Kirby’s Blowout Blast will be a treat for anyone who has followed the pink puff’s career. Non-fans might find a nice diversion if they’re looking for a game in short spurts, but may not be worth it if they’re looking for a fuller game. Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below!

Matt Knodle

Writer

Author: Matt Knodle

I come from Indiana, where I grew up near a video rental shop that proudly stated “The widest selection of anime in the state”, setting me on a course to enjoy as much anime as possible. I’ve devoted myself to over-analyzing various sports anime and video games probably more than they were ever intended. I currently co-host a weekly sports anime fan podcast called KoshienCast with my good friend, Matt.

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