There’s two different tracks that a new Kirby game can go down. For the last few years the majority of them have went down the “experimental” track, where game mechanics are reworked in unique and interesting ways to deliver something that might not be the best game out there, but it’s usually distinct. The other track is more traditional, following in the footsteps of the original Kirby’s Adventure and Kirby’s Dream Land to offer up more standard platforming gameplay. Kirby Star Allies is in this latter category, meaning players should expect the same solid platform-style experience, but little else.
The story, presented by some actually high quality cutscenes, is pretty much what you’d expect as well. Something bad happens in Kirby’s world, and he sets off to correct it. There’s no real explanation at first and the adventure just sort of kicks off because that’s what has to happen for the game to exist. It’s a feeling that stretches from beginning to end in almost all facets of Kirby Star Allies.
The majority of your time with Kirby Star Allies is spent making your way through pretty standard 2D platforming stages. Starting in the traditional Dream Land area, the game branches out quite a bit, though it rarely expands to anything we haven’t seen in similar games of the past. New enemies are the real treat, with Kirby retaining his ability to copy powers from his foes. Swords, fire, ice, and tons of other elements and weapons can be used, with a ton of familiar ones making a return.
While there’s a lot of variety, the actual implementation of these abilities doesn’t lead to too much change in gameplay. Even when you combine abilities with your titular allies (more on that later), very little changes besides how you aim and how much damage you do. Some abilities shift things around a bit, such as the wrestling moves, but everything usually comes down to “walk around and mash attack”. So, to summarize, don’t expect much new or fresh beyond the standard Kirby formula here, but what about the gimmick mentioned in the title?
Kirby Star Allies won’t bring any new fans to the series
Allies are the main addition and focus of Kirby Star Allies, and once again it’s a feature that seems interesting but ultimately leads to little new content. Up to four players can play through this new Kirby game, but if you don’t have friends you can toss a heart at enemies to rally them to your side. While the idea of this seems open to lots of new gameplay, the end result is mostly that you run through the stage with more chaos in your wake, eliminating enemies quickly and efficiently.
The only major strategic elements is to find allies who can combine their powers with yours, mixing a sword with fire for example. But again, this usually doesn’t change the way you’re playing too much, except for specifically designed moments that require the new abilities you can gain from a good combo. It also doesn’t help that getting these combos to trigger can be cumbersome, involving swapping powers sometimes and abandoning the puzzle others. Even with this, these combinations would likely be more key to success if the game put up a decent challenge, but as per Kirby tradition as of late, it doesn’t.
Running through the stages in Kirby Star Allies will almost never result in a Game Over screen, or even a single death. The game is simply a breeze from start to finish, though the endgame content does start to introduce some challenge for those that need it. But to get there players will have to get through a very easy affair. Bosses are especially easy, with many seemingly designed as though you don’t have a weapon of your own. If you do, as you will almost all the time, you can just wail on them and watch their health dwindle.
What Kirby Star Allies offers that its predecessors don’t is the aforementioned co-op, along with better visuals and sound. The game is colorful and has great art design, though it isn’t as unique as we’ve seen with games like Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Still, for a more traditional Kirby style, this game does impress. The soundtrack is light, fun, and catchy, and you’ll find these dongs wiggle their way into your brain just like the series best hits have in the past.
The Switch also adds its usual touch, letting you take the game on the go without a second’s hesitation. This feature does take what would be a rather forgettable experience and add a nice touch to it. Playing a full and decently fun Kirby game anywhere you want, possibly with other players joining in on the fun, can really deliver some laughs and entertainment.
Kirby Star Allies won’t bring any new fans to the series. It sticks to the tried-and-true gameplay strictures of the franchise for better and worse. Co-op is nice, and the HD visuals do bring Kirby’s world to life in a fresh way, but overall this is a totally by-the-book sequel that adds little of value other than a chance to play another Kirby game.
Kirby Star Allies
- Available On: Nintendo Switch
- Published By: Nintendo
- Developed By: HAL Laboratory
- Genre: Platformer
- US Release Date:
- Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
- Quote: "Kirby Star Allies won't bring any new fans to the series. It sticks to the tried-and-true gameplay strictures of the franchise for better and worse. Co-op is nice, and the HD visuals do bring Kirby's world to life in a fresh way, but overall this is a totally by-the-book sequel that adds little of value other than a chance to play another Kirby game."