Kirby Star Allies Review — I Get by with a Little Help from My Friends
Kirby Star Allies is a solid addition to the Nintendo Switch library that shines particularly during couch co-op gameplay.
After a not-so-stellar demo, my expectations for Kirby Star Allies were relatively low — but as always I remained optimistic. The game happened to actually end up having a surprising amount of charm and should please longtime Kirby fans who have been craving an experience more akin to the mainline titles on past consoles and handhelds. Kirby Star Allies is not without its own faults, but its another solid addition to the Switch’s growing library of first-party Nintendo titles. This is a console-quality Kirby game that you can play on-the-go.
Kirby Star Allies is Kirby’s most epic outing in the past few years; the game has tons of levels and a healthy amount of secrets to find. The game begins more conventional but quickly grows into something that’s truly epic. Fans will get the chance to see all of the characters they love, but thankfully, Kirby Star Allies doesn’t rely too heavily on older characters and introduces a bunch of new villains for Kirby and his friends to take on. Also, if you don’t fancy the new characters you can take powers from and play as you can still take control of fan favorites like Meta Knight and the alluring King Dedede.
I think the biggest gripe some people might have with Kirby Star Allies is its lack of innovation to the series. The latest addition to the titular pink puffball comes in the form of a new ability Kirby has where he can take over his enemies and turn them to his cause. The game is designed well enough so that if you want to play without focusing too much on this power, you can, but if you expect to find all of the secrets hidden throughout the game’s many worlds you’ll have to take advantage of this power. There are tons of different enemies Kirby can take over and the addition of all these powers makes the game feel fresh throughout as new powers are introduced throughout the entirety of the story. Powers that Kirby absorbs from his enemies can also be changed by specific allies through fire, ice and wind buffs.
This new power also manages to elevate Kirby Star Allies and makes it work incredibly well on the Nintendo Switch in particular. Friends can join in at any time by hitting the L and R buttons on their controller, and you can have up to three other friends alongside you. It’s fantastic being able to get four players involved with only a couple of Joy-Con controllers. The absolute chaos that ensues is fun, and I actually found the game to be a lot better because of it.
Meanwhile, the AI companions can make the game feel easier than it already is, and that doesn’t help it much because the low difficulty stays throughout the entirety of the game. I was a little bummed out by this but it’s pretty much expected at this point in a Kirby title. If you have younger children or friends who aren’t as familiar with gaming, this is a particularly great title for them, and an excellent title for you to play alongside them. After completing each level there’s a little competitive mini-game that you can compete in, and while it gets a bit repetitive if you’re on your own, my friends and I would trash talk as we competed for the highest score during it.
There’s an excellent score to be found as well in Kirby Star Allies. The game mixes a bunch of new songs and old, Star Allies even has some SNES tracks thrown into the mix and they’re an absolute joy to hear in this modern Kirby title. Even when the game can be too easy, it’s just a pure, relaxing fun jumping through every colorful world accompanied by the great soundtrack.
Speaking of the multiple worlds, the visuals and dialog sprinkled throughout Kirby Star Allies is fantastic. While the level design itself can come off as a bit basic — this plays into the game being too easy — the characters and levels are filled to the brim with personality and charm. There’s a quick animation where Kirby will feed his allies different ability items and my gosh it’s just the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in a game. I have to say, I also found it quite funny when Kirby and his allies danced in celebration after beating the living crap out of their enemies at the end of each level. It’s hysterical seeing Kirby get so much satisfaction out of being a complete and utter badass.
Also, the game’s ending and final boss are great, albeit not very difficult, the encounter offered more challenge than anything I previously faced. I won’t spoil anything, but let’s just say Kirby goes full-on Goku status at the end of the game and that was really a joy to see.
As for collectibles, there are lots of things to find in the game. But the content you unlock from gathering all of the hidden puzzle pieces doesn’t unlock the most compelling rewards players might expect. Because of this, I wasn’t always motivated to go back and find what I was missing whereas in games like Super Mario 3D World and other platformers from Nintendo I typically did like to go back and find collectibles. The more compelling content is unlocked after completing the story mode.
I initially worried that the game wouldn’t have enough content for an asking price of $59.99 USD, but there’s actually a great amount of content in Kirby Star Allies. A more experienced player might be able to see just about everything after around six to nine hours but once you finish your initial playthrough there are plenty of reasons to go back for more. Finishing the story mode will get you access to a bunch of fun minigames that are all-the-more fun with friends, and again, Nintendo has seemingly focused on making this a great cooperative experience — and I have to say, it was a title that really reminded me of something I’d find on the Nintendo 64 and if you know me, you know I’m a sucker for that type of nostalgia.
I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t criticize Star Allies as a platformer. As much as I love it, again, there isn’t much that’s very new here. Games like Cuphead, Super Meat Boy, Celeste, and a slew of other fantastic games are leading the way for platformers in 2018, and I couldn’t help but want to see Nintendo inject some of the same originality found in those games, but nonetheless, the game is still a solid platformer and has the heart of a classic Nintendo platformer.
In the future, I’d love to see more additional content that really takes advantage of the cooperative play Kirby Star Allies does so well. Like I said, the game was just a blast to play with three other friends on the same couch. Nintendo remains one of the leaders of couch co-op and that’s really nice to see in this day and age in a gaming world where it can sometimes seem like the majority of developers are forgetting how great and genuine those experiences can be.
For the hardest of hardcore Nintendo fans, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Kirby Star Allies is worth buying at full price — but for platforming fans who aren’t as familiar with the series, there are are some better options at lower prices on the Switch eShop. If you’re only mildly curious in checking out the game, you should definitely wait. I’d also strongly suggest giving the free demo a try. While there is a surprising amount of content to explore, it’s relatively easy to get through if you’re familiar with this genre.
Kirby Star Allies is another solid addition to the Nintendo Switch, and it does everything it has to as a Kirby game, I just hope that in the future, Nintendo will try to expand upon what already makes Kirby so great as they have with titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.