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  • Kirby Star Allies (NS)

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    April 4th, 2018GamespotUncategorized

    Our favorite gluttonous puff ball is back again, folks, and this time he’s graced the Nintendo Switch to further flesh out its library, joining the likes of Mario and Zelda. It seems like just yesterday we swung and whipped our way through the charming yarn-laden environments of Kirby's Epic Yarn, and made a nostalgic return-trip to Dreamland on Wii, but here we are again. Question is, does the latest entry in the series, Kirby Star Allies, measure up to those titles? Is yet another Kirby platformer warranted when we seem to have been showered with them of late? Well, even though I had my doubts going into my playthrough, I’m pleased to say that the answer to both of those questions is yes, at least in some respects.

    It’s true the game doesn’t quite reach a level of innovation that Epic Yarn achieved, nor does it rely that heavily on a straight-forward, oldschool platforming formula that Return to Dreamland pulled off so well. Rather, it settles on a nice sweet spot between the two and excels on the multiplayer front to boot. While Allies borders on being a bit too simplistic and contains a pretty brief campaign, most Kirby fans will know that this is basically par for the course anyway.

    There at least exists plenty of additional content for completionists sprinkled in, in the form of a sort of hard mode and time trial hybrid, a few mini-games, and a battle arena where you square off against some entertaining bosses. Some of these can feel like tacked-on afterthoughts, though they do inject a bit of depth, difficulty, and variance to the somewhat straightforward gameplay. There’s also the likely potential of free DLC on the way, if the already released “update 2.0” with new characters is any indication. At the end of the day, Allies proves to be a charming and enjoyable platforming experience decorated with some deliciously vibrant and colorful 2.5D graphics, stellar co-op gameplay, and the amusing gimmicks of combining elemental abilities and recruiting baddies.

    Even though Allies leans heavily on these new concepts, it certainly still borrows inspiration from the retro Kirby days in both style and substance, taking on the feeling of a celebration of the charming pink platforming hero in video game form. It draws upon a plethora of old characters long forgotten, with which you can fight alongside and even play as yourself in co-op or as part of the “Guest Star” mode. You don’t just get the likes of the usual suspects, Meta Knight and Waddle Dee, either; Nintendo has also tossed in some more obscure heroes from Kirby games of yorn. There’s Rick the hamster, and Gooey, both of whom first appeared in Dreamland 2 back in the ancient times of the Gameboy. There’s even the amusing jester boss of Kirby Superstar, known as Marx, who coaxed some yuks out of me and my sister as she hovered across Dreamland, firing off electrified beach balls at helpless enemies. Each character comes with their own set of moves and dynamics, which keeps things feeling fresh, exciting, and - at least in the case of Marx - humorous as well.

    As the title implies, there is a heavy emphasis on the presence of Allies, which can be utilized by having additional players fight alongside you from the outset or jumping seamlessly into a stage. You can also opt to play solo by utilizing the less exciting, haphazard AI which follow you around, and only occasionally don’t execute the actions you want them to. This isn’t to say AI companions are completely boring or useless, though the experience does feel a degree more cumbersome and dull than with actual players. It was clear during my journey through the several dozen stages and four worlds that the game both encourages, and is enhanced by, multiplayer co-op. Recruiting foes is both a helpful and satisfying way to gain an advantage, which is easily pulled-off by tossing a “friend heart” at an enemy.

    This fun mechanic ties into the narrative - what little exists anyway - as apparently Kirby has obtained the ability to toss his brainwashing hearts by coming into contact with a “jamba heart.” These mysterious shards have been summoned by an evil wizard named Hyness, who has manifested them through a failed experiment, scattering them across Dreamland and beyond. And so, Kirby and his friends venture across a colorful and majestic assortment of environments - which escalate nicely in their epic nature as you progress - to investigate and gather these shards, and defeat Hyness.

    Of course, the old mechanic of sucking up various enemies to obtain their abilities still makes a return. Though this time it tends to take a back seat to this game's gimmick, which essentially revolves around using the aforementioned friend hearts to recruit wandering baddies to join your ranks, of which you can grab up to 3 others. As you march your way across the linear stages, you’ll find that you can often quickly breeze through most of the game with relative ease by utilizing this function. Even with the sup-par AI, the sheer firepower and versatility of having several different friends wielding different abilities usually makes for an experience that’s simplistic almost to a fault.

    Generally speaking, attacks can be enhanced by combining various moves and elements. You can fire electrified blasts of water, wield a flaming sword, or ground-pound enemies with a paint-soaked rock. Occasional puzzles are sprinkled about which contain stars and puzzle piece collectables, and often require friend ability combos to pull off as well. In keeping with the easy-going vibe throughout, these usually took me mere seconds to figure out, even when they required a combination of abilities to trigger.

    You might, for instance, need to transform into an ice block, at which point a friend will wack you across a platform to push a button, or ignite an otherwise unreachable fuse with the flaming yo-yo friend ability. This messing with different friend abilities can be a bit burdensome at times, especially when you don’t possess the right combination of powers. Thankfully these sorts of momentum-slowing puzzles are at least kept at a minimum. The game tends to emphasize mindless action mostly by way of taking out gaggles of baddies in your wake, which is made all the more enjoyable by playing around with the wide range of friend combos.

    Overall, Kirby Star Allies keeps in the spirit of what makes Kirby games so appealing, with some sharp and instantly enjoyable platforming gameplay. It does feel as if it plays things a little safe, even with the bombardment of various heroes and friend combos. With the emphasis on buddying up, arena fighting that feels a bit like Smash Bros. lite, and competitive mini games, it certainly leans in the direction of a party game rather than a solo platformer. Thus, it doesn’t quite reach that same potential for enjoyment when playing alone. Still, the game is mostly entertaining and accessible enough that flying solo doesn’t hinder the gameplay. As a whole, Kirby Star Allies shines as a standout multiplayer platformer for the Switch, and one that should satisfy the itch of Kirby fans.

    Full Article - http://www.vgchartz.com/article/275703/kirby-star-allies-ns/