by Evan Hatfield of the Ball State Daily News
The Kirby series has been pretty reliable for Nintendo in the past few years in terms of quality games. Kirby Triple Deluxe was a fun (if somewhat bland) addition to the series, while Kirby Planet Robobot added some nice new twists to a familiar formula.
Kirby Star Allies is more like Planet Robobot than Triple Deluxe. Its new take on cooperative multiplayer leads to fun times for everybody involved and the new possibilities that come from being able to make friends with enemies are genuinely exciting.
Even so, the game would be even better if it were a lot longer (and a bit harder) than it is, especially considering the $60 price tag on it.
Even enemies can be friends now
The basic game is the same: Kirby roams through platformer levels, fends off enemies and takes their abilities to his advantage as he tries to save Dream Land from yet another major peril.
The difference this time comes in the form of being able to recruit allies. By throwing hearts at enemies, Kirby can turn them into friends who can help him in his travels. It’s a nifty idea, made even better by the fact that those friends can be controlled either by an AI or by extra players. That co-op multiplayer can be a bit chaotic, but it’s madness that’s plenty of fun.
All this is, of course, in addition to Kirby’s usual copy abilities. They’ve even managed to keep those fresh, with the addition of ideas that work nicely even if they might sound a bit weird at first (see Spider Kirby—no, it’s not as creepy as it sounds).
Where that newest mechanic really shines is in how it’s possible to mix the abilities of allies with Kirby’s abilities to create even more powerful combinations. Is it an original idea? Hardly (see Kirby 64). Is it a good idea anyway? Definitely. It’s probably better executed here than it was in Kirby 64 and some of the special abilities are wonderful to see in action.
It’s all a lot of fun, but suffice it to say this is not exactly a difficult game. Granted, the Kirby series was never really supposed to be much of a challenge in the first place, but it’s a little crazy when it’s a realistic possibility to have 15 lives at the end of the second level. No, not the second world, the second level.
That number continues to balloon as the game goes on. A gamer who has the slightest clue what’s going on probably isn’t ever going to see the game over screen. This in itself is not bad, but it means gamers in need of a challenge will either want to look elsewhere or trudge through to the bonus modes that unlock after beating the story mode.
Well, that was fast
The story mode is pretty much par for the course for a Kirby game. Peril unleashes itself upon Dream Land, and Kirby takes it upon himself to take down King Dedede who, as usual, turns out not to be responsible for the madness. As the game goes on, Kirby makes friends with enemies and makes the most of his abilities to save the galaxies from impending doom.
Unfortunately, it really doesn’t take that long to beat. It’s not unreasonable to be able to get through story mode in less than 10 hours of gameplay, which is really a smaller number than it should be for a $60 game.
The game has a surprisingly good sense of humor, but doesn’t shy away from taking itself seriously when it needs to. There’s still not much of a plot to it, but that’s far less of a worry here than it might be in any given RPG.
For being short, the story mode still manages to have a nice sense of progression, but its brevity and simplicity are probably its downfall. It says a lot when the main story mode probably isn’t even the best part of the game.
Too much show, not enough substance
The honor of “best gameplay” in this game probably goes to the post-game modes Star Allies Go! and The Ultimate Choice, which give the game some desperately needed replayability.
Star Allies Go! is a nifty time attack mode where players go back through the worlds of the game as quickly as possible as one of the game’s helper characters, picking up stat boosts along the way to make things a bit easier. Yet again, it’s not an entirely new idea, but the prospect of running through the game again as, say, Bandana Waddle Dee is a lot more fun than it might sound at first.
Meanwhile, The Ultimate Choice adds more depth to the boss rush that’s traditionally been a part of Kirby games by giving players a difficulty option. It’s familiar in enough senses to not be too jarring, but the added choice is nice to have.
Both modes are better than those descriptions can do justice to, with a surprising amount of depth making them surprisingly replayable. They may be what makes the game worth the cost of admission, but still just barely.
There are also a couple of minigames that are fun for a little bit, but they’re little more than glorified Mario Party minigames. Compared to what the last few games have had as minigames go (such as Kirby Fighters), they leave something to be desired.
Outside of gameplay, though, the game shines in the way Kirby games normally do. The music, mixing some of the familiar tracks from the series with some new compositions, is great (and, depending on the stage, relaxing) to listen to, and the art design is as nice as ever. Even if the game disappoints in a number of other aspects, it’s still almost like artwork in how it goes about the presentation. Still, it’s a pity there wasn’t a bit more effort put into the gameplay.
Featured Image from iMore
Kirby Star Allies
“Kirby Star Allies” is as fun as a Kirby game can be, and the possibilities that come from the new ally system add that much more fun too it. Even so, those possibilities are mitigated by a story mode that's far too easy and far too short for its own good. Even with the great extra modes and subpar mini games, the $60 price tag makes it hard to recommend until the price drops down a bit.