Kirby has finally made its entrance on the Nintendo Switch and it might have not been a faultless entry but there’s no denying that it is an incredibly fun game that deserves the Kirby name. The first thing that will stand out with Kirby Star Allies is the visuals and look of the game. I think that the jump to the Nintendo Switch and a better hardware has resulted in the developers finally able to realizing their goal of creating a gorgeous world for Kirby, so it feels like we can finally see the true potential of what the artists were able to achieve with their hard work. The new art style really fits well with the tech offered by the game.
Speaking of the presentation, the game now runs at native 1080p resolution on the Nintendo Switch when you play with Docked mode. This resolution is actually fine but the disappointment stems from the focus on 30 FPS. Most of the cult classic Kirby games have targeted 60 FPS so the drop to 30 FPS might not sit well with the fans, but personally speaking of myself, I had no issue with the transition to 3o FPS and thought it was fun enough for Kirby.
Just like a classic Kirby game, you will find mini games in Kirby Star Allies that are separate from the main story campaign. These mini games are short, sweet and basically designed around using the Joy-Con controller for the Nintendo Switch. You will be able to play Chop Champs, which mostly uses the motion feature of the Joy-Con to let Kirby and friends cut trees – or Star Slam Heroes, which is another game focusing on baseball. Kirby and friends will have to hit a meteor and timing the hit is the key to winning here. The one thing that I liked about them was that despite their design having a focus on multiplayer, they often feel well suited for short breaks with a friend or colleague. The mini games also offer a high score feature so it should keep you busy if you are done with the story.
Coming to the best part of Kirby Star Allies, it is the story mode. This is a basic Kirby platformer that works in the same side-scrolling fashion. The new thing is the ability to throw hearts at other monsters that results in them becoming allies of Kirby instead of enemies. You can still inhale and eat them but the ability to partner with these enemies is what makes Kirby an interesting experiment for the series. Boss battles take an interesting turn when you have sidekicks to use in battle. I think this is one of the easier Kirby platformer although it is not necessarily a bad thing.
Kirby has the power to suck in and eat various monsters. The new power of offering other monsters a chance for friendship results in the AI taking control of these characters, which is needed to progress through the main game. The best part is that the partner system here is intended for the multiplayer, so if you don’t want to play the game with AI, your friends can take over these characters and assist you through the game. I think the concept of the game is basically around the multiplayer potential of the Nintendo Switch and even though the gameplay goes back to the series’ roots, the new addition of multiplayer tries to freshen the experience a little here.
The multiplayer-oriented design is also something that is perhaps the biggest drawback to the game. It might be easier to explain if you consider that the AI lacks the fun factor that you can have with a friend, and since the game basically revolves around the partner mechanic, it is not possible to avoid it either. Of course, this feels more like a minor qualm but we had many great Kirby games in the past with full focus on a single player campaign so compared to them, this release might be a little disappointing.
The campaign in Kirby Star Allies is of decent length and with the collectibles that are hidden in each level, you will get plenty of replay value. But to get the best out of the game, you will need to find friends or someone who can play it in co-op with you. As much as I have enjoyed Kirby Star Allies, I wouldn’t mind if the series focused on single player again with the next mainline game.
Lastly, speaking strictly of the visuals, Kirby Star Allies is easily one of the best looking platformers on the Nintendo Switch. It looks great in both the portable and docked mode and the performance is rock solid. It would be a shame if we never get another game in the Kirby franchise with the same engine, but if we do, then I will be definitely there day one to support it.
Kirby Star Allies Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Kirby Star Allies is a platform game developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo as part of the Kirby series. It was released worldwide on the Nintendo Switch on 16 March 2018.
Kirby Star Allies is the same fun and charming platformer that fans have loved so far. The only thing that takes down the latest adventure of Kirby is that it might be dull if you play it alone in single player so its true potential is hidden in the multiplayer.