Winter is a dangerous time for one’s waistline. Cold weather discourages folks from venturing outdoors to exercise, while a massive supply of holiday goodies magically appears in our cupboards. For those of us who enjoy beer, the change in the seasons also brings out darker brews with richer flavors (and higher calorie counts). Despite my attempts to stick to a reasonable diet and exercise routine, I have found myself reaching for decadent stouts while snuggled under several blankets, playing equally saccharine games.
It has been quite some time since I indulged in a new Kirby title. Outside of playing Kirby Mass Attack four years ago (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I have only taken short nostalgic trips to Kirby Super Star. After reading positive reviews (and listening to the fantastic soundtrack on a recent episode of the Super Marcato Bros. Video Game Music Podcast), I decided to treat myself to Kirby: Planet Robobot.
It comes as no surprise that the latest Kirby game is Cute-with-a-capital-C. The eponymous pink puffball’s latest quest is filled with adorable creatures, bright colors, and tons of sugary sweets (THERE IS A LEVEL MADE OF ICE CREAM). All of these darling details work in the game’s favor. Since the main threat to Kirby’s home planet happens to be mechanical subjugation, the typically too-cute setting serves as a great juxtaposition to the encroaching robotic takeover. As I made my way through the game, it was interesting to watch as more of Kirby’s lush planet and delightful adversaries transformed into cybernetic terrors.
The too-cute-factor also extends to Kirby himself, as there are a number of new powers with endearing costumes at the hero’s disposal. My personal favorites were the Doctor and ESP abilities, which basically give Kirby the move sets of Dr. Mario and Ness from the Super Smash Bros. series. There is quite a bit of Smash Bros. DNA added to Kirby’s abilities, as the move set for each ability has been expanded to match commands from Nintendo’s fighting game series.
The biggest change to the typical Kirby formula is the inclusion of Robobot Armor. Kirby can pilot these mech suits to complete certain areas, and each copy ability has a unique set of skills when acquired in Robobot Armor. Most abilities grant special versions of their typical powers (Ice gets giant cooling fans and Stone gets massive rock fists), but the Robobot Armor really shines with abilities like Jet, which changes the gameplay format from platformer into a side-scrolling shooter.
As I savored the charming Planet Robobot, I also spoiled myself with a pair of sweet treats from the Flying Dog Brewery and the Salazon Chocolate Co.- Nice Holiday Milk Stout and Pumpkin Beer Dark Chocolate.
Last year, Flying Dog Brewery released a pair of Belgian-style beers for the holidays: a strong dark beer and a blonde ale aptly named Naughty and Nice. For 2016, a new pair of festive brews bearing the seasonal monikers have hit store shelves: an egg nog ale and a holiday milk stout. Between the two brews, I preferred the milk stout. Nice pours a coffee brown color with a foamy milk chocolate head. A rich nose of cafe mocha is immediately present, with notes of roasted almonds adding to the aroma over time. Despite the sweet nose, Nice opens with a bitter coffee start. This powerful opening quickly rolls into a smooth dark chocolate body, finishing with a hint of hazelnut.
Along with this rich and roasted stout, I enjoyed the Pumpkin Beer Dark Chocolate from Salazon Chocolate Co. Inspired by The Gourd Standard Pumpkin IPA from Flying Dog Brewery, this bar uses 72% dark chocolate, sea salt, pumpkin pie spice, and hops in the recipe. The result is a delicious salty-sweet chocolate flavor, with spicy notes of cinnamon and ginger, topped off with a herbal hop finish. Highly recommended for fans of unique combinations of savory and sweet (looking at you, bacon+chocolate lovers).
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed each of these decadent diversions. Kirby: Planet Robobot is a fun platformer with interesting changes to the typical Kirby play style. Nice proved to be a delicious milk stout that balanced roasted flavors with the richness of mocha. And the Pumpkin Beer Dark Chocolate was a unique and tasty treat that mixed three of my greatest loves: pumpkin, dark chocolate, and beer.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to hit the gym. Too much sweet stuff and I will start looking like Kirby, too.