Review: Kirby Star Allies
Posted 18 Mar 2018 at 08:41 by Adam Hirst
Kirby Stars Allies follows in the recent footsteps of some great Kirby games, namely Triple Deluxe, Planet Robobot and Rainbow Paintbrush. Each of these games were a joy to play, offered great replay value and, in some cases, gave the Kirby gameplay a nice shakeup. The demo of Star Allies was released a few weeks back and the reception wasn't great. Is the final game reach the heights of the previous games or was the demo a good indication of what is on offer with the final release? Let's find out.
The Kirby franchise has always been a one that can instantly put a smile on my face. The Saturday morning cartoon type openings and stories, the colourful graphics and happy soundtracks all make for a cheesy grin while playing. Thankfully Star Allies game carries on this tradition of creating a game that oozes joy. Whether its when Kirby and his friends are forming a Friendship Train or being chased off a giant boulder of Waddle Dees, the game has the ability to make the most miserable of gamers crack a smile.
Shades of Indiana Jones right here.
The gameplay is simple enough. As Kirby you suck up enemies and, depending on the enemy, you will gain various abilities. Some of these are better than others and it's up to the player to decide what ability suits their gameplay style the best. In addition to the standard Kirby mechanic is the new addition of gathering friends for your journey. You see an enemy that you want on your team? Then simply press the hold the X button and fire a heart at its direction. The enemy will immediately join the gang and lend you its services.
You can recruit up to 3 team members, making it a team of 4. But it doesn't stop there. You can mix abilities with your newly found team member. Lets say you are using a sword as Kirby. If you were to recruit an enemy who has the ability to shoot fire then by simply holding up on the control stick you will mix both his and your own powers and create a sword that is covered in flames. There are some great combos to figure out and the game does encourage this kind of experimentation, especially when it comes to finding secrets.
All aboard the Hype Train!
Speaking of secrets, as with any good platformer, there are hidden items to find and plenty of things to collect. The main collectibles in the game are puzzle pieces. There of 2 types of these to find. The first is the standard blue piece that can be found lying around everywhere and the second is a special, shiny puzzle piece. There is one of these special pieces hidden in each stage. These pieces are used to fill in a puzzle, of which they are 8 of them. The special puzzle pieces will fill in a specific spot in the centre puzzle area and the blue pieces will randomly fill in the rest. It works just like the Streetpass Puzzles on the 3DS, where the pink pieces were special and filled in the middle area and the outside area was just for the random pieces. Once the puzzle is complete it will show a scene from a classic Kirby game.
Another thing to find various stages is a giant, special button. These aren't in every level but are definitely worth searching out. Once hit, these buttons will open up a secret stage, which in turn will give you access to another puzzle piece. The game does a good job by telling you what stages have these buttons by showing you at the level select screen. It will show you if you have hit the button and also show you if you have collected the puzzle piece, as well.
A blast from the past with the N64 era picture.
Nintendo have included amiibo functionality in this game and I quite like what is on offer. The amiibo allow you to collect more of the puzzle pieces, give you stars that add up for extra lives and drop health for you to use. A lot of games only allow amiibo to be used once a day. In this game that is not the case because you can actually use them a bunch of times. You can use up to 7 amiibo per level. You can use any amiibo that you have in your collection and each of them will give you a reward. However, there are benefits to using Kirby amiibo.
If you were to use any of the Kirby series amiibo or Kirby characters from the Smash series, these will dish out better rewards. You will get 2 puzzles pieces ( trust me, you will need a a lot of them ), more stars and a greater health refill. If you have a full set of all the Kirby characters then you can clean house. Sadly, if you are wanting to pick these amiibo up then you will be in for a hard time. Certain characters in the Kirby series are very hard to find at the moment and have never been restocked since they were released.
Kirby auditions for X-Factor...can't be any worse than what's already on there.
Modern Kirby games always offer something extra for players to get their teeth into and this one is no different. There are a variety of extra modes and mini games to have a go at, if you do fancy a break from the main story. Some of these are available from the start but there are one or two that do need unlocking before being able to play them.
The first extra mode to talk about is called Chop Champs. This mini game can be played with 4 players or against the AI. It requires the players to chop down a tree by either using motion controls ( you swing the joy-con like an axe ) or by using a standard control scheme. The players have a time limit to cut down the tree as fast as they can in order to make a little log cabin. You can move to the left and right of the tree while chopping. This is important because enemies will come down either side, so players will have to switch between both sides to cut the tree. If an enemy hits you then you will be stunned and lose time to your opponents.
The next mini game is called Star Slam Heroes. Like Chop Champs, this can be played with motion controls or standard controls and be played in either 4 player multiplayer or against the AI. This game involves timing the swing of a bat in order to strike a meteor back into space. It's a very simply game to play and imagine it could be a good laugh in local multiplayer. Unfortunately, it doesn't really offer much when playing in single player.
Next up is a mode called The Ultimate Choice. Kirby veterans will be very familiar with this as it's essentially Arena/True Arena mode. You have to pick you starting power up, as well as team members, and work your way through the bosses of the game. You can start off doing only a few bosses but if you crank up the difficulty level then you will end up fighting them all. There is even another difficulty to unlock for this mode but I wont spoil the surprise and will let others see it for themselves. Amiibo can be used in this mode, as well. Just like in the story mode, they will drop extra health and can really give the player an advantage when trying to complete the higher difficulties.
The final extra mode is called Guest Star ???? Star Allies Go! What a name. This plays very much like story mode but instead of playing through the game as Kirby, you have to pick one of the enemies that you usually recruit. You can still recruit enemies to help you on your way but you will be stuck with the power up that you pick at the start of this mode. It's split up into 5 chapters and you will have to play through every stage and fight every boss in the game.
There is also another mechanic at play in this mode and that is that you can power your character up using various pick ups. Scattered around the levels are items that will power up your characters health, power and speed. Picking up one of these will increase the level by 1 for the respective attribute. These can be maxed out at 5 and they are certainly worth finding as you can really see the difference, especially when fighting bosses. These stats will reset after each chapter and then the hunt for them will begin again.
The classic Kirby mini game returns after every stage.
While the game is a joy to play, it's not without its problems. Everyone knows just how easy Kirby games are. this is common knowledge and has always been the case. The challenge usually comes from finding all the secrets and tackling the extra modes in order to obtain a 100% completion file. The problem with this game is that the secrets are too easy to find and the extra modes aren't really challenging.
In the past, a lot of Kirby games required players to go through stages multiple times in order to find everything. Levels may have moved to fast so the player missed something or they needed a specific power up that wasn't available in that stage. In this game everything seems to be laid out in front of the player. Not once did I have to replay a stage in order to collect everything. I managed to find everything on my first go through all the stages and a lot of the things were found without actually having to look very hard.
The main game is very easy, even by Kirby standards. I think I died 3 times through the whole course of the game and that includes the extra modes. Those deaths were due to my own stupid errors, rather than the game being difficult. I think the game is so easy because of the AI. They really do help you out and are quite aggressive and smart when it comes to fighting bosses. This will come as nor surprise to anyone who played Team Clash Deluxe as the AI in that was also pretty good.
Another issue is the loading screens. Every time you enter a door the game will fire up a loading screen. The screens themselves don't last that long ( probably a few seconds ) but it becomes very jarring due to the amount of doors that need to be entered. It can really suck you out of the game.
You'll be seeing these screens a lot.
I've played some cracking Kirby games over the past few years. As I mentioned at the start of this review, Triple Deluxe, Planet Robobot, Rainbow Paintbrush, even Team Kirby Clash Deluxe, all of these sucked me in ( no pun intended ) and offered a good amount of hours gameplay. With this game I managed to 100% in probably less than 10 hours. When comparing Star Allies to the games I have just mentioned it's hard not to feel a little disappointed by what's on offer here. Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed what i've played but it feels a little short and a little safe.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Outside of a couple of fantastic moments at the end of the game I don't think the game will be that memorable for many gamers. This could be because I played through it in single player and others may probably get more mileage out of the game if playing through the whole thing in mulitplayer. I imagine most Kirby fans, like myself, will be satisfied but not overly excited by Star Allies. It's a solid title but if you aren't a fan of Kirby already then I don't think this game will change your mind, especially when there are far better Kirby titles available on other platforms.
Colourful and charming game
Pick up and play gameplay of past Kirby games is present
Lots of loading screens
Very easy, even by Kirby standards