Nintendo has an ability that few developers do: they manufacture joy in videogame form. HAL Laboratory’s Kirby: Star Allies is yet another shining example of this. It’s been seven years since we had the last true Kirby platformer, and the wait has been worth it. Star Allies is quintessential Kirby, with a twist. You can gather and hone a team of three additional friends, use their powers, combine them, and solve puzzles as you float and fight your way across the various levels. What’s more? You can play Kirby: Star Allies alone, or with up to three additional friends on the same device. It’s the perfect family platformer, and just one hell of a fun game that’ll have you smiling from start to finish. This is our Kirby: Star Allies review for the Nintendo Switch.
I will never forget spending hours with Kirby’s Dreamland on my Gameboy or Kirby’s Adventure on the NES. I was a whopping 8 and 9 years old at the time both games came out, and Kirby was just about the best thing ever to me. So I’ll admit off the bat that the little pink puff holds a special place in my heart. If you had a Gameboy, NES, or SNES, chances are the same can be said for you. The formula for the non-spinoff Kirby’s hasn’t changed much over the decades, and it doesn’t need to. It’s an action platformer with a low barrier to entry – meant to be played by anyone, shared with the family, and replayed just for fun.
There are some mini-games that can be chosen from the main menu, but they’re more just diversions from the meat and potatoes of the main adventure. My 5 year-old son loved the Wood Chopping game, but they’re really just sort of there to add extra stuff to do with friends and family. The best part of Kirby is the single-screen local co-op that has you and up to three others traipsing about the levels, fighting baddies, and solving simple puzzles.
If there’s one main complaint you could levy against Kirby: Star Allies, it’s that it’s just an easy game. So, depending on what you’re looking for that’s either going to be a draw or a drawback. My son isn’t an advanced gamer yet. Kirby made him feel like he is. It’s easy to control, to rely on good ol’ dad, and to have the other two AI controlled characters pitch in. Dark Souls this ain’t, and that’s awesome. This is a relaxing adventure, a game to play with your kids, or non-gamer friends who want to get in on the Switch.
The fact that it’s also gorgeous, has a fantastic soundtrack, and ingenious level design that makes the player feel like a platforming pro just add to the fact that Kirby: Star Allies is pure joy in gaming form. Where Mario Odyssey demanded player skill, Kirby 180’s and demands you just have fun. It won’t challenge most of you reading this, but I bet you’ll be smiling and having a good time regardless.
Compare to: Anything Kirby, duh.