Kirby is one of Nintendo’s long-lasting franchises that really enjoys taking the same formula and innovating on it in new and interesting ways. Kirby games are typically aimed more towards a younger audience in comparison to other core first-party series. Because of that, the franchise lacks a real challenge, but the low difficulty doesn’t hinder the fun the series provides. With Kirby Star Allies, all that still applies.
All About The Allies
For this game, in particular, it’s all about its new friendship mechanic. Recruiting a variety of enemies to help along on the journey, similar to Kirby Super Star. But instead of only having one friend, you are able to have up to three other allies that all play a particular role in finding hidden areas throughout a level; along with taking out baddies. The real ‘mix-up’ here, is now there is a new feature that allows combining different abilities that can increase attack power, unleash powerful blows, and solve puzzles. For example, if Kirby has the Blade Knight sword ability you can enhance it with a Burning Leo enemy if you have them as an ally. Then just like that, you have a flaming sword! This also works with other allies in your party and with other weapons and elemental abilities with plenty of combinations to try out.
Before I get into the game, I have to compliment how absolutely gorgeous this game looks in cutscenes and in-game. Other than that, Kirby Star Allies starts off with a neat little cutscene that pretty much sets up the game’s story and how Kirby can now befriend old foes. After the cutscene it lets you jump right into the game that features an “explorable” overworld similar to Yoshi’s Wooly World. I played Kirby Star Allies in handheld mode and on a 4k television and I have to admit, it looks phenomenal on both. The game recently received a lot of criticisms because the gameplay is in 30 frames-per-second. While I understand where people are coming from, the game’s lush presentation and stylish worlds are very impressive, even at 30 FPS. In other words, the game is eye candy from start to finish.
When initially jumping into the ally system of Star Allies, I was not a huge fan of it. My main issue was how easy the allies made the game. If I had all three allies, I could sit back in a boss fight and not have to do a single thing and they would beat the boss for me. In later levels, I may have to revive an ally once or twice. So, to make things more a little more difficult, I would only have one ally with me and only picking up others if they were needed to solve a puzzle, which was actually pretty often. I get that this game is meant for a younger audience, but some inclusions of a difficulty mode would have been appreciated by older fans of the franchise. There is a multiplayer feature that allows friends to join the game and control one of the allies. The drop-in/drop-out co-op system works seamlessly without interrupting up the game. Although this feature isn’t new the Kirby series, it does make the game a lot more enjoyable when playing with friends.
Pretty Basic Platforming
As for level design, unfortunately, I wasn’t blown away by anything in particular. There are four main worlds to explore, two that are familiar and two that are new. There is Dream Land and Planet Popstar which most fans of the series will recognize. Then there is the Jambastion Fortress of Shadows, a darker, castle-like area, and the Far-Flung Starlight Heroes area, which is a series of small planets in deep space. Each area has their own look to them, but function like any other area in the game. All levels are populated by many familiar foes and a few new enemies that can be utilized to get through a level or to solve a puzzle. Speaking of the puzzles, like the rest of the game, they are incredibly simple and don’t take a whole lot of brain power to figure out. There was maybe once or twice where I was actually stumped as to what I was supposed to do, but I figured it out right afterward.
There is also a slew of collectibles in Kirby Star Allies, mostly puzzle pieces used to make cute pictures once you have collected enough. Each level has a special puzzle piece that is hidden throughout it, and some levels have a hidden button that when pressed will unlock extra levels in the game. If you are like me and have to collect everything that a level has to offer, then there is good news. In the overworld, you are able to check out what each level has to collect and what you have or haven’t collected already. Unlike other games that have collectibles like this, I never felt a want to go back and find things that I may have missed, which is unfortunate. With that being said, there is replay value to this game. Whether it is to collect things you may have missed or to finish the puzzle pictures for your collection.
This is very important, do not go into this game thinking it is the Breath of the Wilds or Mario Odyssey for the Kirby franchise. That’s what I was hoping for and was a little let down when I got more into the game. Also, keep in mind that this game is meant to be an introduction to platformers for kids, but hardcore fans of the games will very much enjoy it as well.
With all that aside, at its core, Kirby Star Allies is just another Kirby game with a fresh coat of paint and slightly different mechanics from Kirby games of the past. It is a step up in quality and graphics but can be far too simple for older fans and doesn’t provide a way to change the difficulty setting. The co-op feature is certainly a plus but the game doesn’t leave me itching to go back and play more, even though there are game modes unlocked after completing the main story. I wouldn’t consider Kirby Star Allies a must play game, but is certainly an enjoyable title if you just want to have a casual gaming experience or play a game with your children.