Like “Kirby’s Return to Dreamland” for the Wii, “Star Allies” presents gamers with traditional Kirby fare with a multiplayer twist. Kirby can run, float, and absorb enemies to copy their powerful abilities. This time, Kirby can also join up to three opponents using his new Heart ability, which allows up to four players to play together.
The game’s opening levels buckle under the weight of giving everyone something fun to do, but later stages offer some truly interesting puzzles that rely on combinations of specific abilities. These moments tend to be chaotic and flashy fun, and represent the best of what “Star Allies” has to offer.
This time around, Kirby’s adventure treads familiar ground: An evil entity infects Dreamland’s residents with evil hearts, and Kirby has to save the day. Most every other Kirby game features a similar through-line, so series fans will know immediately what to expect. The first two stages recreate environments like Green Greens and Planet Popstar, but with a fresh coat of HD paint. Bosses like Whispy Woods, King Dedede and Meta Knight also make appearances and feature new twists to make them a little more interesting.
Additionally, the game’s audio and art direction are fantastic. The game’s soundtrack features fully orchestrated versions of familiar Kirby themes, and a handful of stages include crisp 8-bit renditions taken directly from Kirby’s NES and GameBoy adventures.
New particle effects and some beautiful, comic-inspired artwork helps tie together the whole experience, but the $60 price tag could deter some Nintendo Switch owners interested in an otherwise short, familiar game. Thankfully, a handful of post-game additions help round out the entire experience.
Alongside the main game, “Star Allies” also offers a few multiplayer minigames that can help shake things up.
These games revolve around timing-based competitive challenges, like hitting a comet into space with a baseball bat or chopping down trees to build a cabin. Each game features three difficulties, and are often pretty tough to master. Additionally, a secondary story mode challenges players to beat stages without Kirby. These stages push players to think critically about how character abilities can be used to solve problems and doubles as the short main story mode.
“Kirby Star Allies” is a beautiful, distilled example of the best a Kirby game can be, even if it tends to keep things safe and familiar. Moment-to-moment gameplay feels tight, and the chaotic multiplayer allows gamers of all ages to jump into the action. Even though the game plays it safe with its formula, it makes up for its shortcomings with additional content and new HD graphics.
The game’s premium price could be a little steep for some gamers, but overall, “Kirby: Star Allies” is another great addition to the Nintendo Switch’s library.
Game: “Kirby Star Allies“
Platform: Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: E10+ for cartoon violence