Review – Kirby Star Allies
Kirby Star Allies is a sickeningly sweet game that teaches about the power of friendship. In this latest installment to the Kirby franchise, you can turn your foes into friends and team up to stop other enemies and bosses. HAL Laboratories tried something new by letting you have an entourage fight alongside you, but unfortunately it leaves little to be desired.
There’s a lot of traditional elements in Kirby Star Allies. The pink puffball still inhales his enemies and absorbs their powers. Quite a few powers from previous games make an appearance too, like wielding a sword, utilizing a parasol, and fire breath. There are a few new moves in the mix this time around, such as shooting trampoline-like spiderwebs, an artist that paints pictures that become reality, and a particularly odd choice of a chef who cooks your happy friends in a giant cauldron to create tasty dishes to replenish health. Hooray?
The biggest change is with the gameplay. In Kirby Star Allies you can have up to three characters fight alongside you, either controlled by AI or by a few friends joining you online. While this seems like a cool idea in theory, it quickly becomes annoying. It completely removes the challenge from the game, since they all immediately rush in to swiftly obliterate any bad guy in sight. This leaves little for you to do except be responsible for advancing the screen and entering doorways. The boss fights are barely fights at all, since your squad distracts and annihilates them before they even have a chance to start doing some damage. I hoped that the levels and bosses would get tougher after the first few levels and make for some intriguing gameplay. They didn’t.
There is a new mechanic that is pretty cool, though. You can now merge certain abilities with the powers of your friends and create a new ability. For example, if you’re wielding a sword and call upon your friend with fire breath to enhance your powers, you’ll then be upgraded to a fire sword. It adds a little fun trying out the different combinations. There are often obstacles in that you’ll have to pass by using a specific skill set. This would have been a great opportunity to create a little challenge by making you search for enemies with the abilities you need, but they even dumbed it down here too by always placing the corresponding foe right by the obstacle.
At times the game does feature a couple new game mechanics. During certain linear stretches of levels, you’ll combine forces with all three friends to make a giant rolling unstoppable ball that bowls over everything in its path and breaks down walls. Other times you’ll link up and make a bridge for a friend with a key to cross over to gain entry to a locked door. While these parts look cool at first, they wear out their welcome quickly since they make an already easy game even easier.
There are a few different collectables in Kirby Star Allies. There’s a large rainbow colored puzzle piece and several smaller puzzle pieces scattered throughout each level. There’s also a giant switch you must find and step on to open up other areas of the map. That being said, none of these are hard to find during your normal playthrough. When you collect enough pieces of a puzzle, you complete the picture which you can look at any time. That’s it. That’s your whole reward for hunting down the pieces. Personally, I didn’t really feel much incentive to continue searching for more (not that I needed to scour much anyway).
The graphics are a strong point in Kirby Star Allies. It’s their first title to be released in HD and it’s visually a treat for the eyes. The worlds are rich and vibrant with nice texturing throughout. The movements are really smooth for the most part, only slowing slightly every once in a while during areas where there is a lot of attacking going on all at once, which is understandable since it runs at 30fps.
The sound quality is well done. The music is upbeat and happy, as you would expect to find in any Kirby game. In fact, they feature a lot of music from previous games with a slightly remixed sound to bring a bit of nostalgia to long time fans of the series.
Kirby Star Allies tried to do something new to revitalize the franchise, but they went too overboard with it. I loved the idea of having friends with powers help you out against certain villains and obstacles, but with so many available to you, it was overkill. By the end of the game I had over sixty lives and had only died once. I killed myself on purpose just to see if it was possible to do so. My four year old daughter likes the game and even beat it without any help, if that tells you anything. This game might have been worth the time if it had been around $20, but at $60 it’s robbery.
Beautiful, bright, and clear.
This game basically runs on autopilot leaving little for you to actually do.
Cute happy music with delightful throwbacks to previous titles.
Fun Factor: 2.0
What could have been great original game mechanics were so overdone they destroyed the fun.
Final Verdict: 4.5
Kirby Star Allies is available now on Nintendo Switch.