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The first Kirby game I ever played was the original, Kirby’s Dream Land, for the GameBoy. I didn’t get a chance to play Super Star until the remake released for DS called Kirby Super Star Ultra. I was in school at the time and the day it released, I ran to the GameStop next door during lunch and nabbed a copy. I was hooked on it for a few weeks. Developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo, Kirby Super Star was released for the Super Nintendo in September, 1996. For this review we played the SNES Classic version. Jeremy and I teamed up for some two player action and managed to complete the entire game in about six hours. Kirby Super Star contains multiple games and more are unlocked as you play.
The game includes six main games, five of which have a tiny form of story. There’s also two sub games and the Arena, which is just a boss rush mode. The first main game is Spring Breeze and it’s a pseudo remake of Kirby’s Dream Land with some levels ripped straight from that game. The story goes that King Dedede stole all of the food from the residents of Dream Land and Kirby needs to get it back. The next main game is Dyna Blade and the antagonist, Dyna Blade, is destroying Dream Land’s crops so Kirby sets out to stop her. The third main game is Gourmet Race and there really is no story here. Kirby just needs to race King Dedede and win. The Great Cave Offensive is the fourth main game and this also has basically no story. Kirby just goes treasure hunting. After completing the Dyna Blade game, you unlock The Revenge of Meta Knight. Meta Knight is trying to conquer Dream Land and Kirby needs to stop him. Once that game is completed, you’ll unlock Milky Way Wishes. In this game, the antagonist, Marx, tells Kirby that he must stop the Sun and Moon from fighting. In order to do so, Kirby must collect all of the Star Rods from the planets to revive Nova, a comet made of metal and machinery. The stories here are not very in depth, there’s no voice acting, and each can be completed within an hour if you’re quick enough.
Kirby Super Star can be played solo or with a friend. Player one is always Kirby and player two will be a helper. If playing solo, Kirby can be assisted by an AI helper. Kirby can run, jump, slide, crouch, fly, and block enemy attacks. The second player also functions the same but that character’s flying is limited. Like most games in this series, the gameplay revolves around different abilities. Kirby inhales his enemies and can then copy their powers. In order for the second player or the AI helper to join in, Kirby must create them from a copied ability. If player two mashes the A button, or is about to die, he can change abilities by running into another enemy that can be copied, otherwise Kirby has to create them again. Milky Way Wishes breaks these rules a little because instead of copying abilities from enemies, you must collect the deluxe abilities to acquire the powers permanently and you can switch between any of the one’s you’ve acquired at any time. When the characters take damage, they lose health but can restore health by consuming the food items scattered throughout the environments. Consuming Invincible Candy will grant you limited invulnerability. If both characters kiss, or what the game calls face-to-face, shortly after eating food they will share the health.
Kirby Super Star is essentially a platformer, you may even call it a platforming beat ’em up. The Spring Breeze game plays out in five stages. You kill enemies, can find some hidden areas, and the whole idea is to get to King Dedede and defeat him. You can easily beat this in under fifteen minutes. In the Dyna Blade game, you start at a map screen with multiple stages and must complete them in order. You can find hidden rooms with big switches that unlock ability rooms on the map screen. The whole idea of this game is to complete each stage and then defeat Dyna Blade. In Gourmet Race, you need to race King Dedede and win by reaching the finish line and eating food along the way to rack up a high score. That’s it. The Great Cave Offensive consists of numerous interconnected areas. You need to find all of the treasure because reasons. There’s no real motivation to do it, Kirby just wants to find treasure. In The Revenge of Meta Knight, you go from area to area and must complete the areas within the time limit, otherwise Meta Knight conquers Dream Land. Finally, in Milky Way Wishes, Kirby flies to each planet, defeats enemies, collects powers, and acquires the star rods needed to revive Nova. After acquiring all of the star rods, you then battle the final boss. There’s even a shoot ’em up segment in this game.
You can basically call the sub games “mini games” and the Arena mode is easily the hardest game of the bunch. There’s two sub games, Megaton Punch and Samurai Kirby. Megaton Punch has Kirby and another character trying to break blocks. This involves the players pressing buttons at the right time – to fill a meter, line up crosshairs, and line up a pendulum in a circle. Samurai Kirby is just a duel and the first player to press the button when the exclamation point appears, wins. You can set how many matches before playing each sub game but I really can’t see anyone playing either of these for more than five minutes. They’re also not required for one hundred percent completion. Arena is the last game you’ll unlock and is literally a boss rush. You’ll battle every boss encountered throughout each game, even mini bosses, and in between battles you can consume health items but you’re only provided five so you’ll want to use them wisely. If you die, you need to start the entire mode over.
Kirby games are all about abilities and in Super Star, you’re provided with plenty. Kirby can inhale enemies and spit them back out as projectiles but you may want to swallow ones that offer abilities for access to a wider variety of attacks. Each ability has its own move list and, luckily, the controls are simplistic. One button attacks and in combination with the d-pad, you can perform different moves. You can perform charge moves, thrust in different directions, fire projectiles, grab enemies, and more. After copying an enemy, Kirby will wear a unique cap to identify which ability you have equipped. If Kirby takes enough damage or is hit by a powerful attack, the ability will be knocked out of him in the form of a star but he can get it back if he inhales it before it disappears. While Kirby just copies the abilities, player two or the AI helper will actually transform into the enemy. Not every enemy can be copied, however, only the blinking ones. Some stages require you to utilize specific abilities in order to find hidden areas like smashing posts requires the hammer or stone abilities. Lighting fuses to fire cannons requires the jet or fire abilities. All of the abilities have their own ups and downs and experimenting with each is all part of the fun. Each game is also filled with numerous boss battles and most bosses are extremely easy to take down. They don’t require a lot of effort and even when you die in this game, there isn’t much of a penalty so you can get back to where you were rather easily.
Kirby Super Star is one of several Super Nintendo games to utilize the SA1, or Super Accelerator 1, chip. What does that mean, you ask? It means the original game cartridge gives the Super Nintendo access to faster RAM and an upgraded clock speed. We’re not sure how the game actually utilizes the chip but visually, it looks pretty good, at least for its time. The game is full of vibrant colors, parallax scrolling backgrounds, and the intro sequence showcases an impressive computer generated Kirby in combination with the Super Nintendo’s iconic graphics mode, Mode7. Like many Nintendo properties, and the Kirby series in general, the soundtrack is full of catchy tunes, many of which are still heard in Kirby games released today. The sound effects are what you would expect. They sound cartoon-y but do compliment the gameplay nicely. As for the performance, we did notice the frame rate dip when the screen got hectic. The dip would drop inputs, as in you press the button and nothing happens but, luckily, this didn’t happen often.
We had a lot of fun with Kirby Super Star but I would say its biggest problem is that its too short. In addition to that, all of the games, minus the Arena, are extremely easy and offer little resistance. The Great Cave Offensive will probably eat up most of your time because some of the treasure is actually well hidden and/or require specific abilities to obtain. The Arena is easily the hardest because if you die, you need to start over, you’re provided limited health items, and you basically need to memorize the boss attack patterns. But for the most part, the game is a breeze. But even during our brief time with the game, we still a blast thanks to the numerous fun abilities and excellent controls.
We do feel that Kirby Super Star Ultra is the better game and if you have a Nintendo DS, we would recommend that over this. It contains twice as much content and brings a lot more challenge to the experience. However, if you’re a Kirby fan, a collector, or are just interested in trying the original, we would definitely recommend giving this a shot. The game feels like it’s geared towards a more casual crowd so if you’re looking for an intense challenge, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for something that’s silly, fun, upbeat, and can even be enjoyed with a friend, Kirby Super Star might just be the game for you.