If you have a Nintendo 3DS and $60(ish) of disposable income, stop reading this right now and go buy both Mario Golf: World Tour and Kirby: Triple Deluxe. Despite the system’s already stellar library, the 3DS continues to rack up additional hits, but these two new first-party releases prove that Nintendo is still the true master of their hardware.
But what if you only have, like, $30? What if, even at Amazon’s reduced sticker price, you simply can’t afford to pick up both titles? In that case you’re faced with a dilemma that, while not exactly Sophie’s Choice, is difficult nonetheless.
On the one hand you have Mario Golf: World Tour, an expertly-crafted portable golf experience developed by Camelot Software Planning – who was also behind the previous portable outing, Mario Golf: Advance Tour. Unsurprisingly, the game uses the same enchanting genre-hybrid approach that made its GBA forbearer so entertaining. Part RPG, part arcade golf, part challenging mini-game collection, World Tour offers a lot, and somehow manages to pull each element off expertly.
World Tour straddles the line between casual and hardcore, first and foremost by offering two separate swing mechanics. Automatic mode requires a single button press to set swing strength, while Manual mode uses a two-press system – one for strength and the other to control hook or slice around a more narrowly positioned sweet spot – that also allows for secondary elements like strong front- or back-spin for more precise control over the ball.
Play takes place between two basic modes. The Castle Club, which challenges the player’s Mii avatar to move up the ranks by competing against Mario and his all-star sports crew in various tournaments, comprises the bulk of the game. The Mario Golf mode offers quick-play options like stroke- and time-based matches, as well as the addictive Challenges, course-specific mini-games that further hone your burgeoning golf abilities – not to mention things like multiplayer tournaments.
Still, the lines between are often blurred, with your Mii available even within Mario Golf mode and the Sky Island course, with its punishing one-on/one-putt constraints, offering separate mini-games within Castle Club play. Similarly, new stat-altering clothing and gear is continually unlocked across both modes, adding even more depth by allowing you to further tailor your character to your unique style of play or, consequently, use these buffs to compensate for deficits.
While much has been made of Mario Golf: World Tour‘s upcoming DLC – and a first-of-its-kind “season pass” approach – the title already overflows with content. Add this to its beautiful graphics, solid controls and all the charm you’d expect from a Mario Sports title, and you’ve got the makings of a great handheld gaming experience.
Personally, though, I find it’s the little things that make World Tour so worthwhile. Crystal-clear sound, crazy courses/power-ups and a steadily building difficulty level are great assets, but things as simple as character selection (your Mii is available straight out of the gate) and movement speed (your avatar always runs) helped to win me over immediately. In fact, with the exception of some challenging in-game navigation – Would it kill the club owner to invest in some signs?! – I’d be hard-pressed to say anything negative about the game at all.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe, I’m happy to say, is equally satisfying. Though maybe not as visually adventurous as Canvas Curse or Epic Yarn, it’s another great big adventure for our diminutive hero that plays as good as it looks.
Kirby’s journey to rescue a captured King Dedede from atop the newly-grown Dreamstalk is complicated by even more fantastical creatures, which Kirby handles in his own indubitable fashion. Gobbling up foes to mimic their powers is only half the fun, though, as the series’ Warp Star now does more than simply whisk you from world to world. The stereoscopic 3D depth of the levels actually plays a key part in navigation, as Kirby, using the Star, jumps from foreground to background and back again.
Beautiful, complex and thoughtful level design is complimented by tight controls and an expanded selection of Copy Abilities. New edible enemy types like Beetles and Archers breathe some refreshing new life into the puffball’s power set, and the offensive/defensive capabilities of the new Bell-type are particularly interesting.
Triple Deluxe truly plays to the system’s strengths, with the depth of field serving to ramp up the puzzle-platforming level design and add a little bonus comic relief – yeah, expect to see Kirby splatted against the inside of the touch screen from time to time. Gyroscopic controls are also available at irregular intervals, and, while respectfully responsive, aren’t overdone to the point of annoyance.
Surely the biggest change to the standard Kirby gameplay mechanic comes in the form of the new Hypernova power. This super-sized ability lets Kirby inhale large environmental elements like giant blocks and massive trees, further supplementing the puzzler aspect. With all this movement and variety on two and sometimes three planes, it’s no surprise that ample collectables like Sun Stones, character keychains and other hidden secrets further add to the titles replayability. The same is true for additional game modes like the Smash Bros.-esque Kirby Fighters and the rhythm-based Dedede’s Drum Dash.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe looks great. It sounds great. It plays great. It’s just… great! Both a series high-point and a great entry point for new fans, it’s easy to love and hard to put down.
So, in closing, I guess what I’m saying is that, if you can’t purchase both games, either will suffice. It’s really just a matter of who you want to be in your handheld escapism: an arcade golf pro or an adorable juggernaut of platforming destruction. There is no wrong answer!
Review materials provided by: Nintendo of America