“Kirby Star Allies” is a very typical Nintendo game – cute, fun and polished to the nth degree. It doesn’t do anything new but, then again, it really doesn’t need to. The Kirby formula of sucking things up and stealing their powers is as fun here as it’s ever been, and whilst it never reaches the highs of Return to Dreamland, it’s still a stellar instalment in an absolutely charming series.
Plot is light on the ground here, with a simple story about Kirby rescuing familiar faces – both friend and foe – from a strange new force in the galaxy. The short, superbly animated cutscenes do the job of getting you to trot from planet to planet, defeating the strange new evil that’s turning people to the dark side.
Much like Kirby games of the past, however, this is a cuteness that belies a slightly darker underbelly. Kirby games have always had this knack for being just creepy enough to be interesting, and Star Allies is no exception. The disturbingly muscle-bound Dedede was a particular highlight, and whilst these touches don’t make the game a ten out of ten when it comes to plot, as there really isn’t much of one, it certainly helps in flesh out the game and packs it full of character.
Speaking of character, there’s a lot when it comes to Kirby’s signature suck. There’s loads of enemies here whose power you can absorb, both old and new, and experimenting with their surprisingly deep move sets is, as always, an absolute blast. It’s a system that is deepened by Star Allies’ main hook: by throwing hearts at foes you can recruit companions to tag along with you on your quest – up to four, to be precise. These can in turn be controlled local co-op players, but if you’re on your own the AI is surprisingly competent. It will solve any puzzles that its moveset allows for, will hold its own in battle and will help you on team attacks whenever you need.
The killer hook however is that elemental powers can be combined to make things such as flaming swords, electric whips or wind shuriken, depending on who’s combing what. There’s loads of interesting mix-ups and the mechanic is a really fun one to play around with. Whilst Kirby’s level to level platforming is a fairly simple affair, messing around with enemy types and forming your perfect team – that even allows for boss characters to tag along – is all great fun.
Outside of the game’s core story there’s plenty to keep you coming back for more. There’s loads of collectibles hidden in some fairly ingenious places on each stage, along with secrets that open up entirely new levels. There’s also a collection of minigames that I found myself absolutely addicted to for a good few hours, trying to get the high scores on each stage. I think I lost a little part of my soul to the meteor smash minigame, which I retried over and over again before finally getting a perfect run.
Star Allies is a truly gorgeous game, with soft, round visuals that pop in a bright colour palette. It doesn’t take long to fall in love with the way this game looks, and each new inhabitant you can befriend (or absorb) is more bright and cheery than the last.
The soundtrack fits this bright look, with poppy, chipper tunes that bounce along as rhythmically as your characters do. There’s a good amount of original tunes to go with the usual stable of Kirby favourites and remixes, and overall the soundtrack is an absolute knock out.
It’s not hard to fall for” Kirby Star Allies” and its wholesome fun. Whether on your own or with some friends it’s a great time, and I especially dug collecting all the hidden extras around the world. It may be a little simplistic for older gamers but younger fans – or anyone who doesn’t mind sacrificing challenge for an overabundance of charm – are going to eat this one up.