|Dev: HAL Laboratory|
|Release: March 16, 2018|
|Players: 1-4 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 720p-1080p||Cartoon Violence|
by Jenni Lada
There is a comfort that accompanies Kirby. He is a stalwart companion. Throughout the years, he has been there on every Nintendo system. No matter where you go, at least one of his games is there to show you a good time. Now that the Switch has turned one, it is its time. Kirby: Star Allies has appeared as a trusted friend to provide backup as we wait for larger games like Super Smash Bros. and Pokemon. And boy, are we happy to see him.
As with every one of Kirby’s game, Kirby: Star Allies starts with bright, colorful, and peaceful worlds pushed to the brink of disaster. This time, an explosion on the planet Jambastion has contaminated plenty of other places. Fractured, tainted Jamba hearts turn everyone but Kirby evil. With Kirby, the heart is apparently purified and gives him the ability to share more hearts and bring people who were formerly corrupted to his side. With this new skill, he heads out to face unspeakable evil again.
Kirby: Star Allies mostly sticks to the series’ tried and true formula. Each world has a number of stages, with a few that happen to have mini-bosses at the end. There is also one major boss at the end of each planet. Levels are relatively straightforward, but having certain powers or combinations of abilities due to companions can sometimes unlock additional paths that provide puzzle pieces, food to restore health, extra lives, or switches to unlock Dream Palaces or switches. It is, for the most part, relatively simple, though some later stages and bosses can actually require a bit of thought, dexterity, and proper power acquisition.
Plenty of copy abilities are available in Kirby: Star Allies, meaning lots of options for dealing with enemies and solving simple puzzles. There are 28, as well as five different elements that can sometimes be combined with them to alter their effects. Of these three are entirely new. Artist and Spider are permanent abilities that, when equipped, allow Kirby to create paintings and attack with a brush or create webbing and bind up enemies. The latter is especially interesting, since its special skill allows you to create a trampoline for friends that reaches new places. There is also a new limited use skill, Festival, that is more powerful the more friends you have and basically spawns a damaging dance party.
What is especially lovely is having up to three allies with you. The AI is rather good in Kirby: Star Allies. While they will occasionally take damage, they are rather good about staying alive, using their special skills in appropriate situations to solve puzzles or open new areas, and damaging enemies. The real boon here is being prepared for any situation. Many of the optional rooms, which can lead to switches, beneficial items, or cosmetic collectibles, tend to require at least two or three abilities. (As an example, one room with two waterfalls and a fuse requires one character with a fire element ability and two characters with parasol.) This means a little extra planning, which can provide incentive to return to a stage.
Friends also means Team-Up Attacks and Friend Actions. The former can come into play whenever you happen to have two compatible abilities on a team. When these combine, a special skill can be triggered to provide some sort of otherwise extraordinary skill. Geokinesis lets one person with ESP lift another using stone to get past blocked areas. Cook Potluck creates food and boosts attack. The various fighting abilities lets one friend throw another to remove blockades. Friend Actions take place at different platforms to perform actions like Friend Bridge to help get a character to a door, Friend Circle to steamroll through areas, or Friend Train to run along walls or destroy enemies. Each one involves a sort of teamwork.