Kirby Star Allies (Switch) Review

A Kirby Potluck

At last, the mainline Kirby series has finally returned to consoles. Kirby Star Allies revolves around befriending enemies and utilizing their powers, a concept that originated in the SNES classic Kirby Super Star. The game also borrows elements from other titles, such as ability combinations from Kirby 64 and 4-player co-op from Kirby’s Return to Dreamland. Although the core experience feels identical to its counterparts, its potluck mechanics complement each other effectively, bringing out the best in Kirby and his friends.

 

Please be sure to check out my Video Review!

The story begins when a mysterious villain performs a ritual that causes numerous purple hearts to possess Kirby’s friends. It’s a standard “Kirby saves Dreamland” plot that wastes no time explaining the premise, and my only disappointment with the story is that it doesn’t expound more on the antagonists, who are the few characters with actual dialogue.

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The Super Star Kirby Returns to Dreamland…64

For the most part, Kirby Star Allies features tried-and-true Kirby gameplay. The pink puffball runs and jumps through dozens of 2D stages. His core moves are floating indefinitely, which makes platforming a breeze, and sucking in enemies to copy their powers. The latter ability defines Kirby, and adopting completely novel movesets every few minutes keeps the journey exciting.

There are a whopping 28 abilities, including old favorites such as the boomerang-like Cutter ability, the Yo-Yo power-up that turns Kirby into a breakdancing ‘90s kid, and the Sword that allows him to cosplay as Link from The Legend of Zelda. There are only a handful of brand new abilities, but they’re among the most fun to use. The Spider power-up is tough to use at first, but it’s satisfying to trap enemies in cocoons and bounce friends upwards using webs. The Artist ability isn’t mind-blowing, simply giving you a weaponized paintbrush to give life to art, but the power to spawn healing items is valuable. My favorite – the Staff power-up – arms you with a versatile martial arts pole that you can extend, spin around, and bounce on as a pogo stick à la Ducktales.

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Spider-Kirby, Spider-Kirby, does whatever a spider can.

The abilities, as fun as they are, are par for the course. It’s how they complement the new allies that makes the experience shine. Kirby Star Allies quickly thrusts players into experimenting with its primary mechanic: befriending enemies by tossing hearts at them. You can add any enemy with a copy ability to your team of four, and either the computer or a local player gains complete control. Each ally shares the same moveset as Kirby would with the same copy ability. The only difference is that the ally can’t change his powers. Instead, you switch out the character. Just as in Kirby Super Star, merely having a companion around to journey together adds a special warmth. Being able to carry other players who need more assistance further promotes the friendly nature.

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Kirby so ’90s.

The game’s adoption of Kirby’s Return to Dreamland’s 4-player co-op excellently expands on that concept. The experience is more enjoyable with friends, and it’s easy to add or remove players at any point. Players in Kirby Star Allies can control any of the allies, leading to flexible gameplay. While computer-controlled allies aren’t as fun to play with, they are thankfully very capable in battle, often destroying enemies before Kirby can even get to them.

The most fascinating aspect of the allies system is the ability to mix copy powers, which was also a highlight of Kirby 64. The combo powers are not as deep as in that game; you don’t get awesome dual lightsabers and drills. Rather, most combinations involve imbuing a weapon with an elemental power. For instance, you can wield a fire sword or an electric yo-yo. With the right allies, you can easily create different combinations and use them to exploit enemy weaknesses. Unfortunately, there are only a few unique mixtures, like the curling stone and the geomagnetic rock. The concept is not as fully realized as in Kirby 64, but it’s still fun to test out, especially in puzzle rooms, which require specific solutions.

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True friendship.

These puzzle rooms, along with special segments where all four members combine to form structures like wheels and bridges, bring variety to what is otherwise a straightforward game. The level design consists of straight pathways and very few pitfalls. Although the bosses are cool, especially muscular King Dedede (who makes me laugh every time!), they pose little threat to your team. That being said, the difficulty level is appropriately toned for its target audience of younger gamers.

Kirby Star Allies is rather short; it takes about five hours to beat the main game. By finding hidden switches, you can unlock some extra levels, including areas where you can recruit exclusive party members. Unfortunately, the only real collectibles are puzzle pieces that randomly fill in several large pictures. With the exception of one rare puzzle piece in each stage, it doesn’t matter where you obtain the other pieces, sadly doing little to entice exploration.

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King Dedede literally skipped leg day.

Post-game content and minigames round out the package. One mode is a boss rush with adjustable difficulty, and the other tasks you to beat the game as one of the enemy types. The latter is a surprisingly deep mode with collectible stat boosts that assist your playthrough. Both provide a good challenge, even for more experienced players. The minigames, on the other hand, are fluff. One is a meteoric take on baseball and the other is a race to chop down the most wood without getting hurt by obstacles. They’re simple Mario Partyesque distractions without anything substantial to gravitate towards.

Kirby Star Allies is the first mainline game on an HD system, and the series has never looked this gorgeous. The detailed, crisp visuals bring Kirby’s colorful and charming world to life. The landscapes are somewhat generic, but they’re carefully presented with such glowing care that it’s hard to complain. The visuals remain intact on the Switch tablet, with no issues of slowdown or poor presentation. The music is pleasant and catchy, with some remasters of old soundtrack favorites alongside new whimsical tunes that perfectly match the tones of their respective levels.

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Even the fiery levels look super cute!

Conclusion

Even though Kirby Star Allies does little to properly evolve the franchise, it’s a joy to play, whether alone or with friends. While the allies mechanic isn’t technically new, this iteration borrows the best elements from some of the best Kirby games that came before it, forming an experience that remains entertaining throughout its short campaign. The only downside is that it costs as much as other Switch games that offer much more content. Nevertheless, Kirby Star Allies is a charming romp that is bound to make even the angriest puffballs smile.

Score: 8/10

Note: A review copy was used for this article. This review was originally written on DarkStation.

What do you think of Kirby Star Allies? What is your favorite Kirby game? How about your favorite Kirby copy abilities? Please share any thoughts or questions you have in the comments section below! Thank you so much for reading and watching!

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38 thoughts on “Kirby Star Allies (Switch) Review

  1. Such is the power of friendship. I, too, nuzzle with new friends. Loved your review! I love the easygoing nature of the Kirby games. I especially like the multiplayer games because you don’t have to be good to keep up, so it’s very accessible to young kids and non-gamers. My favorite copy ability is the Link costume sizzle sword. The curling stone is…unique. At least cleaning powerup is back – that’s an important one hehe. I love how cute all the characters look and how happy they all seem together. They also kiss to heal–it’s adorable! There’s plenty of Kirby love to go around! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much as always for your support and encouragement! Always means a lot to me! 😀 Sword Kirby is a classic, and I’ve always enjoyed whenever Kirby has his cute little Link hat. I also appreciate the cleaning powerup. Always feels special when sucking in Broom Hatter actually does something!

      And YES, I’ve always loved that the characters basically kiss to share health. It’s so adorable, even if it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and seems kind of odd the more that I think about it. But then again, I guess the whole Kirby sucking in half of his enemies to mimic them and then throwing hearts at the other half also makes no sense. But all that matters is that they nuzzle now, and that’s way too cute. I love it!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your support for both my writing and videos! I truly appreciate it!! 😀 I would love a muscular King Dedede amiibo! PLEASE!!! I’d love for all of the star allies to be in a Kirby amiibo wave 2!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great work with the review. I haven’t played it, but I wonder how much better the game would have been if it focused on the sort of design the puzzle rooms hold. It would make for a very unique and engaging experience, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much Matt! I really like your idea of a more puzzle-focused design. My favorite parts of Kirby games are having to solve problems by using the right copy powers to get collectibles. A whole game like that would be great! It reminds me of how the Klonoa series was a standard platformer on PlayStation, but when it came to Game Boy Advance, the developers shifted the game to a puzzle platformer. I preferred the GBA games for that reason.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome! Those are also my favorite Kirby segments, that’s why the idea appealed so much to me. =P

        I have never played the GBA Klonoa game. It must be interesting!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I liked the GBA Klonoa games a lot! The main mechanic was that Klonoa could double jump but only if he could throw an enemy or block downward, so every level was built upon these high walls you needed to get over by manipulating the objects and enemies around you. The game’s were really underrated!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the review – I held off on this due to the price (would have been nice to stream but it seems like so little content for $60). Sounds like my worries held true. Given money being tight right now, guess I’ll wait for a price drop, which knowing first party games will not be for awhile (if ever). Still, sounds like a fun little game!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome and thank you for the kind words! I think the 3DS games were appropriately priced for what Kirby games deliver. Kirby Star Allies, aside from looking really good, doesn’t seem to be that much of an upgrade from those 3D titles. Console pricing is unfortunate sometimes eh.

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  4. Great review! It’s good to have Kirby back, and I like the add enemies feature! Also glad to see King Dedede has been hitting the gym after being warned by his cardiologist. This makes me nostalgic for Kirby 64, and want to try out Kirby Superstar!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you as always my friend! King Dedede has good health goals. Besides, he needs those muscles to clobber dat dere Kirby!

      I highly recommend Kirby Super Star, which Kirby Star Allies seems to have borrowed inspiration from. It’s a true SNES Classic!

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  5. Great review Some have complained about short length, but I think many also forget that the series is aimed mostly at those under ten. Seasoned vets will likely burn through Kirby games pretty quickly anyhow. The co-op/partner system sounds like an interesting addition to the formula though. I think my personal favorite outing though is still the NES entry. The final boss had one of the best chip tune themes you’ll ever hear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words man! My complaint is more of the cost, just because the price is pretty steep for a Kirby game. I understand it’s a first-party console game, but it’s not substantially better than other Kirby games – it’s still solid though, and I love the co-op system and throwbacks to other games. Kirby’s Adventure is a great choice. I must have played that at least 4 times, including the GBA remake, Nightmare in Dream Land. That boss theme is indeed awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your review has me excited to get a Switch and play this one. I have enjoyed all the recent Kirby games and this one looks like a lot of fun. Keep up the excellent work, Mr. Panda! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Kuribo! I always appreciate it! 😀 I love Kirby games, but I missed the last few on 3DS simply because I felt like I didn’t need to play them. But Kirby Star Allies reminded me why they’re feel-good, relaxing fun games. It’s inspiring me to go back and try out Kirby Planet Robobot finally!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Robobot is my favorite of the various Kirby games to come out in the last ten years or so (even better than Epic Yarn which was fun and had amazing art) so I definitely think you’ll enjoy that one 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ooh, I definitely want to try it. I played a demo and thought the robot suit was a nice spin on the usual Kirby gameplay. I want to at least get it while physical 3DS games are still in stores!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The robot suit is a lot of fun and the game uses 3D pretty well if you’re like me and enjoy the 3D effects. There is a Nendoroid of the robot suit coming out and while it is expensive, I’m tempted because Kirby is so cute!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I do appreciate the 3D and thought Kirby Triple Deluxe handled it pretty well. I definitely want to see what Planet Robobot did with it. The robot suit Nendoroid sounds excellent! Robots translate well to figures, and I’d sure be tempted by an awesome Kirby themed one!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!!! It’s an honor to hear from one of the biggest Kirby games I know! I have a feeling you’ll enjoy Kirby Star Allies. Between your wonderful love for the Kirby series and how fun this game is, you’ll have a blast! Hope you enjoy it!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The game is pretty short and easy to beat, but collecting all the rare items kept me busy for a while. I have to admit Kirby is a solid franchise for Nintendo and you always know your getting a quality game!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! I usually know what I’m getting into with Kirby games: short, easy, fun collectibles, quality. It’s not my favorite series, but it’s super consistent!

      Like

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