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Our goal is to play and review most if not all Kirby games and I was really looking forward to playing Star Allies. Jeremy got it day one and kept hounding me to get it but I was occupied with other games at the time. I acquired it recently and I’m glad I did because I was able to enjoy all of the DLC at once. Developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo, Kirby Star Allies was released for Switch in March, 2018. The game has received numerous updates since it released and all the DLC is free.
The story goes that the Jambastions were trying to summon their lord and in the process, they released all the dark hearts on Popstar. The dark hearts possessed the inhabitants, turning them evil. Kirby is unaffected and he gathers friends, or star allies, to defeat the evil. There is no voice acting, the story isn’t bad, and the gameplay is classic Kirby.
Kirby can walk, sprint, jump, slide, swim, fly, block, dodge, and air dodge. As expected, he can copy abilities by sucking in foes and absorbing their powers. He can also obtain abilities from Copy Pedestals. Kirby can throw hearts on certain enemies and they will become friends or star allies who will follow Kirby and assist him on his journey. Kirby can have up to three friends. The game does support up to four players and anyone can jump in and take over a friend. Kirby can swap out friends if needed and unfriend certain ones if necessary. Each friend or character has their own move set and abilities and some abilities can be combined with elemental powers like fire, ice, water, electric, and air. Some can combine together to create one-shot attacks. Combining abilities will be required to solve some puzzles.
The main campaign contains multiple words with their own set of levels. Each world has a map screen where you can travel to the different levels. Each level has puzzle pieces to collect and if you acquire all the puzzle pieces to complete a picture, you’ll unlock special artwork based on previous Kirby games. Some levels have switches that unlock extra levels and Dream Palaces where you can recruit Dream Friends. These are iconic characters from the series, each representing a past Kirby game. These include characters like King DeDeDe, Meta Knight, Bandana Waddle Dee, Marx, and Magolor, among others and most of them were added as free DLC. And they’re all overpowered. With a roster of all dream friends, you can defeat a boss in a matter of seconds. After recruiting from the Dream Palace, you can only enter it again after beating a level. After beating the main campaign, you unlock the Ability Planet which contains a room filled with all of the game’s abilities and an area to test them out.
Most of the abilities we’ve seen in previous games make a return and the new ones include art, festival, spider, and staff. The art ability grants you the paint brush weapon which can be used to paint on canvases to reveal items and stars. The Festival ability allows Kirby and his friends to dance which kills all the enemies on screen. It’s a one-time use ability. The spider ability allows you to create webs, good for trapping enemies. The staff ability grants you a staff. You can use it to swing and jab and pole vault. There are two returning abilities that have seen some changes – cleaning and cook. Cleaning only included a sweeping attack in Dream Land 3 and now it has a whole new move set that utilizes the animal buddies Nago, Pitch, and ChuChu. When Kirby has the cook ability, it works like it used to. But if one of his friends is Chef Kawasaki, he’ll have his entire mini-boss move set.
The main campaign plays out like a typical Kirby game. You’ll be jumping, flying, beating up enemies, acquiring keys to open doors, and using abilities to progress. Levels do contain secret rooms, you’ll fire out of cannons, fight mini-bosses, and solve puzzles. The puzzles aren’t very difficulty but they do usually require specific abilities which are almost always provided to you nearby. Now that Kirby can bring along friends, together they can perform friend actions. Friend Circle is when they form a circle to break through areas of the level and destroy enemies. Friend Bridge is the least exciting action. You all form a bridge and need to guide an enemy with a key to a locked door. The Friend Star may just be the most fun friend action out of them all. It’s when all of them jump on a star and fly around and shoot at enemies. Then there’s the Friend Train where the friends quickly charge around the level.
Like most Kirby games, the enemies don’t put up much of a resistance and act more like obstacles. Most of them just walk around, they will attack you if you’re nearby, and some utilize ranged attacks. The most challenging foes are the mini-bosses and regular bosses. The main campaign isn’t very difficult and there’s no difficulty modes to choose from. Whether you’re playing solo or with friends, you can blast through the game without much of an issue. The friendly AI can do a lot of the work for you. If you take damage, you lose health but can eat food found in the levels to heal. If you perform a face-to-face with your friends after eating food, you can heal them, too. Stars are scattered around the levels and after collecting enough, you earn an extra life. You can find 1-Ups that also grant you an extra life. Every now and then you’ll come across invincibility candy that will make you invincible for a limited time. After beating a level, you have to play a mini-game where you’re objective is to bounce to the highest platform and you’ll gain rewards based on which platform you land on.
The story mode is pretty short but luckily, there’s other modes to play through that will extend the length of the game. There’s two mini-games – Super Slam Heroes and Chop Champs. In Super Slam Heroes, you need to hit meteors as far as you can. Chop Champs is easily the worst mini-games and requires you to chop down trees quickly while avoiding bugs and Gordos to build a house. These mini-games lose steam very quickly but beating them is required to actually complete the game.
After beating the story mode, you’ll unlock The Ultimate Choice, Guest Star, and Heroes in Another Dimension. The Ultimate Choice is a boss rush mode. Here you can choose your ability and what friends you want to come with you. You can also play as one of the friends if you want. You choose the difficulty and take on bosses one at a time. You’ll unlock higher difficulties by completing the mode on a specific difficulty and by beating Heroes in Another Dimension. Guest Star is a mode where you play as any of the friends and go on a unique adventure. You’ll acquire powerups that boost your character’s attack, defense, and speed. You play through levels which are made up of multiple stages and all powerups are reset between levels. Heroes in Another Dimension is basically an expansion to the story mode and was added to the game as free DLC. It continues from where the story left off and is easily the hardest mode in the game. Here, you’ll play through four dimensions and collect hearts. In each section, Kirby forced to play as a specific friend or use a specific ability. Our only gripe with this mode is that all the levels look the same.
If you’ve played other Kirby games, you should know what to expect when it comes to the presentation. Our only real issue with the visuals is the noticeable jaggies but other than that Star Allies looks excellent. Everything is vibrant, colorful, filled with plenty of detail, and the characters are well animated. The game includes remixes of classic Kirby songs along with new ones that sound great and fit the action the well. The sound effects are cartoon-y and whimsical and landing hits does sound satisfying. The only technical issues we experienced were frame rate dips here and there. The gameplay does run at thirty frames per second but the menu runs at sixty.
We had a great time with Star Allies and it’s one of our favorite Kirby games to date. Whether you’re playing solo or with friends, there’s a lot of fun to be had here. The story mode may be short but thanks to the DLC and extra modes, there’s a lot to see and do. The post game content is actually quite impressive. Guest Star will take you a while if you want to beat the mode with every character and Heroes in Another Dimension will pose a real challenge. Heroes and The Ultimate Choice are probably the most difficult modes in the game. Compared to the story mode, the difficulty increase in Heroes is noticeable from the start and if you ramp up the difficulty in The Ultimate Choice, you can easily get your ass kicked if you don’t have your character’s move set down and the boss attacks memorized.
We would absolutely recommend Kirby Star Allies to fans of the Kirby series and/or action platformers. Thanks to all of the free DLC, there’s plenty to see and do. You can beat the story mode fairly quickly but the extra modes should keep you coming back for a while. If you enjoy jumping, flying, and beating up enemies, then you’re in for a great time and doing it with friends makes it even more enjoyable. Definitely check out Kirby Star Allies.