Kirby Star Allies

Kirby Star Allies

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Kirby has been around for a fair few years now (since 1992 with Kirby's Dream Land, in fact), and this month marks his return in the form of Kirby Star Allies, developed for Switch and with an emphasis on party play. Yes, Nintendo just can't resist taking the job of one character and making it a merry band of four (just look at games like The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords and Super Mario 3D World for instance), so now we have a game that's built all around jolly cooperation, whether that be with your AI recruits or real friends.

The premise will be very familiar for fans of the cute squishy ball, as you still hammer the jump button to slowly float upwards, and you still inhale all that's in sight, with the choice to swallow your enemies and absorb their powers. There's an added twist this time around though, as now you can spread the love by throwing hearts with X, which turns enemies into best friends who join you in your party of four to take on the world. It is in this crew then that you tackle the strange events in Dream Land, since Dark Hearts have fallen from the sky and spread darkness throughout.

It wouldn't be the Switch without some local multiplayer fun, as there's simple hop-in-hop-out co-op available for friends to fill the shoes of different characters, and up to four people can huddle around the TV as cute little figures. If you choose to play alone though, these allies are AI-controlled, following you around in a little train like loyal companions, rather than doing what real people inevitably do and wander into trouble.

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What are these allies good for though? Well, they provide extra powers that you can use in combination with each other to solve puzzles. For example, combining the electric character's shocking ability (pun intended) with yourself controlling a hammer-wielder will give you an electric hammer, which not only packs a mightier punch but also lets you activate power buttons to unlock new areas to explore. It's by using these powers together, then, that you can access all of the areas, defeat the enemies (like those holding ice shields), and progress through each level.

Kirby Star Allies
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There are plenty of enemies included in the game, and although some can't be recruited with your love heart, most of them can, offering different attacks and weapons not to mention abilities like ice, flame, wind, shock, and more. By mixing and matching these you'll not only be able to solve puzzles but also find some really devastating attack combinations, whether that be spinning a flaming yo-yo above your head or becoming a curling puck sliding along and destroying anything in your way.

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All of this is pretty easy though, and if you're playing with an AI even more so. In most areas the puzzle you need to solve will have the character you need right there in the same room, so you don't really have to search for the right ability, and the solution isn't that hard either. Sure, it's meant for kids, and we understand that, but just a little bit more challenge in the nooks and crannies of the levels might have been appreciated by those who want some friction when finding all of the hidden collectibles. On top of that, the AI also automatically does what's needed of them when near an appropriate spot, so it's kind of like they're solving these puzzles for you at times.


The collectibles scattered around the various worlds include switches (which unlock extra bonus missions) and jigsaw pieces (which fill in a puzzle). This serves no purpose other than giving an extra goal for completionists to obsess over, but it does give you something to work towards other than getting to the end of each level, and also leaves you kicking yourself if you finish a section and realise you haven't found the one big jigsaw piece in that level.

These extras will add longevity to the game no doubt, but we don't really think it needs time added on. During the first few hours of play we loved exploring the worlds and finding these hidden pieces, but after about five hours things start to feel a bit stale. It's all well and good being able to switch your powers and your crew up a bit, but it's not like Super Mario Odyssey; the fundamental mechanics remain the same, and the platforming feels a bit like you're going through the motions.

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Lifelong, hardcore Kirby fans will probably love the entire aesthetic though, as it's the same as we've seen in other platforming Kirby titles like Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, except this time with all the sheen and polish you'd expect from a 2018 release. The colours are varied and really pop; the levels are all diverse and wonderfully detailed; and there's a nice mix between familiar faces and some new and fresh characters, including some bosses that we won't spoil here.

While the heart mechanic does change things a bit, the good news is that it doesn't throw the classic simplicity of Kirby out the window. Admittedly there may be a bit of jigging needed when you recruit another buddy when you have a full party and have to kick one of your old chums out, but it never feels bogged down by this, and the emphasis still remains on the platforming, the absorbing of enemy skills, and the colourful cuteness of the whole package. The limit to local multiplayer might also be the clincher for some, but at the end of the day with the drop-in-drop-out nature and the regular mixing of your party members, it might not have been the best idea to have online anyway.

All in all, Kirby Star Allies fell unfortunately short when it came to holding our attention. It's admirable to put a lot of hours, extras, and content into any game, but with Star Allies losing steam around five hours in, you may find the rest of it a bit lacklustre after repeating the same stuff. It's fun and accessible for kids, or even with some mates together for a gaming session, but it's not got the legs to be an instant classic.

Kirby Star AlliesKirby Star AlliesKirby Star Allies
06 Gamereactor UK
6 / 10
Lots of abilities to mix and match, Four friends can join in the fun, Polished and diverse in levels and characters, Same accessible Kirby mechanics.
Loses steam after a few hours, Repetitive, A bit too easy at times, especially single-player.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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Kirby Star AlliesScore

Kirby Star Allies

REVIEW. Written by Sam Bishop

"It's fun and accessible for kids, or even with some mates together for a gaming session, but it's not got the legs to be an instant classic."

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