Kirby and the gang are back once again in their debut appearance on the Nintendo Switch. This time, Kirby: Star Allies tasks the pink hero with fighting off a mysterious dark force that has invaded Planet Popstar. But has this platformer been worth the wait?
Kirby Star Allies takes the traditional Kirby formula and injects it with a newfound focus on customization.
As you may have guessed from the title, this is a game that’s all about teaming up with friends, and thankfully the co-op is extremely easy to set up and great for younger players from start to finish. The story is fun and surprisingly creatively written too, but unfortunately, despite its cutesy charm, Star Allies is ultimately a short-lived experience that doesn’t really warrant any extra playthroughs.
Gameplay wise, co-op is built right into the foundation of the game’s DNA. Here, players have their own health gauge and even share health pickups with other players by… er… touching their character’s faces. Despite having some newfound friends, Kirby is still the central character, so no matter how well you’re doing as a team, it’s back to a checkpoint if the titular hero isn’t revived within five seconds.
While this game is very much co-op focused, this is a Kirby adventure that you can beat on your own. When playing solo, the CPU characters are generally smart enough to use their powers and abilities when needed. However, they are pretty terrible when it comes to movement and are vulnerable to instant death from traps or environmental damage, so you may not want to rely on them too heavily.
Allies and Powers Galore
Kirby hasn’t had this wide a variety of powers and allies since Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, and thankfully, players will be able to swap between powers and allies with ease. The amount of powers and allies is compounded by the ability to tie elemental bonuses to abilities like Cutter or Sword, with added elemental bonuses including Fire, Ice, Water, Wind, and Lightning.
In addition to the elemental bonuses, a nice touch sees players able to combine other powers on top of these for greater effects. For example, using Esp and Stone allows you to freely control a giant statue and drop it where you choose. Still, this is no complex RPG and the combining of key powers is about as deep as Kirby Star Allies will get.
While early in the game you’ll encounter switches that may require pressure from a Hammer or Stone ability, the later ones may be a metal switch that requires those same attacks to be imbued with Lightning. While it takes time to learn them, finding all the different combinations of abilities and weapons is a blast.
Everyone is sure to find a couple of favorite characters or power combinations and regularly swap between them to keep the game from becoming stale. Boss fights — while creative — often disappointingly feature the same enemies over, and over again. They also lack in the challenge department, as defeating most of them just boils down to spamming attacks from underneath or right beside them.
This changes in the final boss fight, which was by far the best fight of the game, but make no mistake — this is no Monster Hunter: World by any means.
Is Kirby Star Allies Any Good?
With Kirby Star Allies following Nintendo’s other iconic games like Super Mario: Odyssey and Breath of the Wild, we were hoping that the pink blob’s debut would be equally expansive. However, the shorter campaign combined with repetitious boss appearances make it the exact opposite. The only reason to revisit the campaign after completion is to collect the remaining puzzle pieces to fill up the picture gallery and unlock the music player.
While we thoroughly enjoyed our four to six hours with Kirby Star Allies, it definitely was lacking in some areas on top of its short length. Levels are decisively easy and lack extra exploration, boss fights are simplistic, and the minigames are fun but shallow. It’s difficult not to feel like Nintendo was playing it safe when designing it.
Building the game around a more simplistic design to attract newer audiences rather than growing it for its older ones seems to be the name of the game here. While it has a lot of star power with all of its characters and abilities which are sure to please the hardcore Kirby fanbase, this new Switch adventure certainly won’t be winning any awards for innovation.