Nintendo's cutest and pinkest chum has finally made his Switch debut. However, is Kirby Star Allies the incredible return to form that long-time fans have been eagerly anticipating? Invite a few friends over and let's find out.
Kirby Star Allies is definitely a Kirby game. As soon as you start playing, the charming 2D gameplay will feel right at home if you've ever played a Kirby game before. As a huge fan for about 25 years, I must say that I loved the opportunity to dive into a brand new adventure with one of my favourite Nintendo characters even if it did feel very familiar. However, as I worked my way through a few levels, I started to see what makes Kirby Star Allies so special. For starters, you can play through the entire game with up to four simultaneous players which is fantastic. What makes this even better is that there are plenty of cooperative mechanics that take the core gameplay to new heights. Overall, the blend of classic Kirby action and the new cooperative friend-based mechanics (which I'll discuss in more depth later) combine to make a seamless and fresh experience that fans and newcomers are bound to enjoy.
Thankfully, Kirby's undeniable charm is back full-throttle. From the familiar tunes with fresh new spins to the adorable visuals, playing Kirby Star Allies is a treat for your eyes and ears. Discovering new abilities and gameplay mechanics only to witness the cute resulting animations is so rewarding. Being able to cook your friends to turn them into delicious snacks, paint adorable pictures that come to life, and smash your pals against breakable walls provides plenty of laughs and cuteness that'll have you smiling throughout.
Let's get back to the gameplay. Kirby can recruit enemies by throwing hearts at them as well as swallowing them to copy their essence. Recruiting foes allows you to fill your party out and obviously, the more folks you have on your side, the more powerful your team is. Also, gathering a team with diverse abilities allows you to solve puzzles and uncover secrets more effectively. By holding up, you can instruct allies to apply elements to your current weapon or combine with them to perform a unique ability such as mixing stone with ice in order to make a curling rock. Some parts even require you to use your whole team to form a bridge or wheel that rolls forward and causes much destruction. It's an absolute blast to discover new abilities and cooperating with friends in order to do so is super-rewarding.
Another aspect that Kirby Star Allies excels at is its stage designs. The levels themselves are surprisingly long and have plenty of distinct segments so they never feel repetitive or boring. You'll go from fighting a boss to playing through a space shooter segment then carefully working through a conveyor belt filled tunnel to ascending a column consisting of moving staircases. There's a ton of variety.
Although the stages themselves are great fun to work through, I'm a bit disappointed that there are only four worlds to master. I miss the classic Kirby games that had a variety of uniquely themed and colourful worlds. Kirby Star Allies will take you to Dream Land and Planet Popstar as well as a couple much darker environments which just doesn't feel like enough, at least in the sense that it doesn't provide nearly enough environmental variety. I miss areas like Ice Cream Island, Orange Ocean, and Grape Garden.
In addition to the small amount of available worlds, there are a couple other downsides that took away from my enjoyment. First, trying to master every stage is far too easy which limits the replay value. Upon completing the entire game and not even trying that hard to collect everything, I was only missing a few collectibles. This is partly due to the fact that you're usually provided with the necessary abilities whenever you come across a puzzle so there's never a need to replay stages with a unique ability equipped. Finally, whenever there's a lot of onscreen commotion which is frequent due to there being four characters running around, it's very easy to lose track of your character and this actually resulted in a few lives being lost while I played. In fact, I think that's the only time I lost lives.
I should mention that upon completing the game, you gain access to a few mini-games. Chop Champs has you chopping down trees while avoiding hazards (which is exactly the same as a mini-game in the recently released Party Planet). Meanwhile, Star Slam Heroes has you time button presses to whack meteors away. The Ultimate Choice is basically a boss rush mode and Star Allies Go is a time attack mode sans Kirby. As you can see, this bonus content isn't very intriguing but I'm glad that there's at least something else to do.
Kirby Star Allies offers plenty of classic adorable Kirby action with oodles of exciting abilities to discover. It may not be the most fulfilling game in the long-running series but there's no denying just how much fun there is to be had.
- + Nifty cooperative abilities with loads of combinations are a ton of fun
- + Full of adorable Kirby charm
- + Clever and diverse stage designs
- - Too much onscreen commotion makes it very easy to lose track of your character
- - Unlocking everything is unchallenging
- - Only four worlds to master