Everyone’s favourite pink puffball is back for his first Nintendo Switch adventure, and this time he’s making friends with his foes. Sure, Kirby Star Allies may not be a particularly innovative entry in the series. However, it’s just as adorably cute and engrossing.
Every recent Kirby game seems to combine that classic 2D platforming action with some kind of gimmick. For instance, Planet Robobot had the perky protagonist jumping into massive mechs, to cause some serious chaos.
In Kirby Star Allies, the twist in the tale is our hero’s ability to befriend his enemies. By throwing hearts at anything evil, you can instantly turn them into battle-ready companions. These turncoats can actually boost Kirby’s powers and also be used to unleash devastating team attacks that will clear the screen in seconds.
At its heart, the gameplay hasn’t changed much at all. You’ll still be fighting your way to the exit of each level, hunting out secrets as you go. This time, as well as finding secret paths to open up bonus levels, you’ll be tracking down well-hidden jigsaw pieces. At the end of each level, these pieces are used to fill a number of puzzle pictures. And when complete, these can be viewed in the gallery section.
Kirby Star Allies review: Teamwork
The new allies ability may sound like a simple gimmick, yet it’s been intelligently implemented. Your recruits don’t simply follow you dumbly and bash anything that gets in their way. You can bewitch up to three enemies of your choosing at any one time and use their individual talents and powers to great effect.
For instance, if you have one ally who wields a sword and another who boasts fire control, the flamer can set that weapon alight and make it twice as powerful. Kirby himself can suck up any enemy he encounters and inherit their powers too. Which means that he too can rock a burning sword once a fiery friend is found.
That’s just one early example of the kind of teamwork found in Kirby Star Allies. Pretty much every level in the game involves combining your powers with your ever-changing teammates, and the level of invention is often hilarious. For instance, if the pink puffball inherits rock powers, a friend with freezing powers can turn him into a curling stone of ultimate destruction. And you can even pull off killer moves that involve all three of your allies. For example, firing them around the screen to wipe out everything in sight.
Kirby Star Allies review: Gently does it
Activating these team moves is simple and devastating, and can help to wipe out boss characters in no time at all. In fact, like previous Kirby titles, Star Allies is rather easy to blaze through. You can actually lay down your Switch and go make a cheese toastie in the middle of some of the boss fights. Chances are, by the time you return, your allies will have beaten the bugger for you.
That doesn’t mean it’s not a fun game, however. Even with its very gentle difficulty, I was hooked throughout. That’s mostly thanks to a combination of the relentless charm and innovative gameplay mechanics. Not to mention those secret bits which demand to be found. Plus, the levels remain as diverse as ever, with surprises regularly popping up to keep things interesting.
As you might expect given the nature of this game, you can blast through Kirby Star Allies with up to three other players. Some of your chums can join you locally using a single Joycon each, or you can play online instead.
And the good news is that Nintendo is planning to update Star Allies in the near future with more content. This includes new enemies that you can befriend and team up with.
You can grab Star Allies right now from the Nintendo Switch store.