To commemorate the pink puffy glutton's 25th anniversary, three new Kirby games were announced through Nintendo Direct in April 2017. The first game was Team Kirby Clash Deluxe, the second was Kirby's Blowout Blast, and the third is the recently released Kirby Battle Royale.
Contrary to most of the games in the Kirby franchise, Kirby Battle Royale is a brawler instead of a side-scrolling action-platformer, and it starts with a very brief introduction; Kirby enters "Dedede's Cake Royale" to win a tasty cake, and Dedede tries to stop Kirby by cloning him in a variety of colours, the aim being to take the pink hero down.
In order to learn combat, as well as floating and gathering abilities, you navigate Kirby through a short map, although surprisingly Kirby's signature move (consuming enemies and using their abilities) is entirely absent during the introduction. This ability can be unlocked later in the game, but for fans familiar with the franchise this may be a somewhat confusing start.
The controls are very easy to pick up, something that the Kirby franchise is well-known for, catering to both beginner and experienced players alike right off the bat.
The introduction gives the game an action-adventure feel, but don't get too excited, because as soon as the intro is completed, the action-adventure vibe fades away entirely. Granted, there is a Story Mode where you navigate Kirby through five leagues to win the Cake Royale, but it's a meagre plot even by Kirby standards. Throughout the Story Mode you can unlock new abilities and items to boost your battles, but it becomes clear that mode mainly functions as a way to practice Kirby's abilities and become proficient in the mini-games the main game revolves around.
These mini-games are the main focus, allowing you to play with a total of four people or against the CPU. Some mini-games, such as Apple Scramble, let you team up with a buddy in order to collect as many apples as possible within a time limit, but in Battle Arena it's every Kirby for himself: the last ball standing wins. In total, there are ten mini-games, which may sound like a lot, but as they continuously loop, they lose their novelty rather quickly. Furthermore, considered as a group they don't feel hugely varied, albeit they do come with different, nicely designed backgrounds.
Playing against people instead of the CPU does make the game a lot more interesting. Well, it would were it not for the fact that the online multiplayer has immense waiting times and, if you're unlucky, you can experience a fair amount of lag at times, something that's not particularly useful in the heat of fierce competition.
Battle Mode lets players customise some single-player games and engage in local multiplayer, but unfortunately, we couldn't test these features properly due to a relative lack of local activity. That said, we expect players to get more hours out of the game with customisable games and the ability to connect easily with friends and jump into quick battles.
In terms of style, the game is colourful and the music upbeat, which befits the Kirby franchise well. We wouldn't want to see the pink puffy ball any other way, after all, and even on the small screen we still enjoyed the vibrant colours. Surprisingly, though, there's no 3D function on the 3DS. We feel Kirby Battle Royale would have been one of those games that would have benefitted from implementing 3D functionality, as being entirely 2D does an already limited game no favours.
The lack of content makes the game's mileage depend almost entirely whether or not you have 3DS-wielding buddies, and the quiet multiplayer servers certainly don't help on that front. While it's certainly a title suited to those who love party games, fans hoping for a game with a gripping solo adventure and challenging gameplay may want to skip Kirby's Battle Royale entirely.