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Impressions: Kirby Star Allies
Gaming's Sam Nason gives us his impressions of one of Nintendo's longest IPs new instalments, Kirby Star Allies
In 2017 we saw Mario, Zelda, Splatoon and Fire Emblem all land on the Switch; this year, among a wealth of others, comes Kirby in Kirby: Star Allies, first announced at E3 in 2017.
When I first saw Star Allies, I was reminded of Kirby’s Return to Dreamland on the Nintendo Wii; indeed the E3 trailer showed off Kirby working with a variety of other characters in multiplayer situations, greatly exciting me since Return to Dreamland was a game my friends and I used to love playing together. Teams of up to four can travel through traditionally designed Kirby stages, utilising (in typical Kirby style) the abilities of your enemies through Kirby’s trademark inhaling and mimicking, which is still very much present in the game. Star Allies also supports a number of different control schemes; most notably the single Joy-Con, the dual Joy-Con or the Pro Controller.
Star Allies can be played either solo or multiplayer, but collecting allies seems to be an integral part of the experience whichever way you play. As well as inhaling and copying, Kirby can throw a friendship heart at an enemy to add them to your party, whether they be controlled by the AI or another player, up to a total of four. This means you can incorporate a myriad of different abilities without the need to laboriously swallow one enemy, then discard it, and swallow another.
Star Allies isn’t just about running from left to right and seems to have a surprising amount of depth compared to other Kirby instalments. There is plenty of footage to watch online from preview events and trailers, and the majority of the puzzles require careful use of your abilities, as well as your allies’. One can only imagine these will increase in difficulty and complexity as the game progresses.
While you may expect those playing single player to have a disadvantage given the alternative being computer-controlled allies, it has been reported that the AI is actually rather intelligent and easy to work with, meaning either play style is perfectly valid. Friends can drop in or out of playing any of your partied allies at any point, reminiscent of the Super Mario Bros series.
Some critics have rightly noted that the game is able to maintain a smooth and stable framerate at all times. Visually, it looks beautiful, and is a playful yet striking portrayal of Kirby on the most powerful Nintendo system yet. Even from the trailers, the world of Kirby is brought to life in all its vibrancy.
The gameplay runs at 30FPS - fine since it’s not too fast- however, I can’t help but feel that if the Switch can’t produce a higher frame rate for a platformer, we ought to be concerned about its capabilities going forward, especially considering Nintendo’s recent flirtation with the Unreal Engine. It’s understandable that a game like DOOM runs at 30FPS, but Star Allies is a completely different genre with far less demanding graphics. This, of course, is all just nit picking - at the end of the day Kirby being 30FPS is certainly not the end of the world.
Kirby: Star Allies looks to be an impressive, joyous and exciting new instalment in the franchise. The four-player interactivity is a nice mechanic and sets it apart from other Kirby titles, while the core mechanics of the series remain. With more depth and an adventure that seems to cater to both new and veteran audiences, Kirby’s debut Switch outing certainly looks like a treat. I’ll be watching this one with excitement!
Kirby: Star Allies releases worldwide on March 16th 2018.