Kirby Star Allies Is Adorably Awesome On Nintendo Switch
Despite not being as widely popular as Mario or Link, since his first appearance in 1992’s Kirby’s Dream Land for the original Game Boy, that little pink (I guess he wasn’t so pink in that game) puffball has remained one of Nintendo’s most iconic mascots. Much like his innocent appearance, the majority of Kirby games have remained relatively breezy size-scrollers involving a delightful mute blob who inhales his enemies and absorbs their unique abilities. While the game’s innocuous aesthetic and basic formula hasn’t drastically changed over the past two-and-a-half decades, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Still, in terms of gameplay, Kirby Star Allies is the franchise’s most welcome leap forward.
While Kirby and the Rainbow Curse for Wii U was commendably cute and inventive, its stylus-controlled gameplay was a drawback that felt like a limiting gimmick after the first few levels. Thankfully, Kirby Star Allies goes back off the rails for some fun 2D adventuring. The look of Kirby, especially over the past few titles, has been increasingly delectable, and it’s a relief to freely explore such candy-coloured worlds once again.
Going back to the classic side-scrolling Kirby is a welcome return, but Kirby Star Allies does introduce something fresh that perfectly suits the Switch’s multiplayer-friendly sensibility. Taking Kirby’s chameleon-like superpower to new heights, our hero can now chuck hearts at his enemies and turn up to three of them into allies, along with their unique abilities, like fire, ice or, um, baseballs. There are a couple dozen baddies to charm, each providing their own distinctive power. The upshot often feels more like a Super Smash Bros. brawler than a traditional Kirby game.
You can also combine Kirby’s swallowed abilities with allies’ powers to dish some major damage and solve increasingly stimulating puzzles. If you’re playing solo, your teammates’ AI is surprisingly clever, wreaking a lot of carnage on their own and knowing exactly where to stand when you summon their powers. Obviously, if you’re looking for the ultimate experience, going the local multiplayer route is loads of chaotic fun.
Story Mode is extremely fun but a little on the short side. Maybe we’ve just been spoiled by Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey’s sprawling, game-changing campaigns, but here it feels like things wrap up just as the puzzles start to get truly head-scratching and the action wonderfully over-the-top. If you’re aiming to hit every secret-level-revealing hidden switch and collect every collectible, you’ll probably spend a good eight to ten hours doing so.
Like most games these days, there are a handful of other modes well worth checking out. Guest Star mode lets you speed-run the game as one of the its playable enemies, which does a swell job of switching up the gameplay as well as offering new RPG-like gameplay courtesy of stat-boosting hearts that are dispersed throughout each level.
The Ultimate Choice challenges you to defeat the game’s bosses (all of which are very cool, I should add) with limited health. You can even adjust the difficulty meter to impact how many big bads you’ll have to throw down with.
Lastly and predictably, there are a pair of button-mashing mini-games. Chop Chomps has you chopping down a tree whilst dodging projectiles, while Star Slam Heroes has you smashing a meteor into orbit with a bat.
Kirby Star Allies is out Friday, March 16 exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Check out the trailer below, my little puffballs.