Nintendo added to it’s ever growing list of first-party games on the Switch this week with the release of Kirby Star Allies. The game is a platformer that features a new game mechanic where Kirby can befriend certain enemies to have them join his group. Kirby also has his normal ability to suck enemies into his gaping maw and absorb their powers. Kirby and his friends can combine powers if certain combination requirements are met. For example, if Kirby swallows Jammerjab and absorbs his powers, he can turn the staff into a spark staff if Plug is in the group. These combinations are used to solve puzzles or defeat some enemies in a faster manner.
The game takes place in some of the same areas as previous Kirby games have, so the setting is familiar to veterans of the franchise, but knowledge of them isn’t required for newcomers, As per the case with many Nintendo games, the use of vibrant colors is immediately noticeable. The levels are set up in a platform style that is reminiscent of old NES and SNES games and in general very straightforward. At times, the levels seem a bit too simple though and very much a Point A to Point B experience. The music also reminds me of games from those generations except that they are no longer MIDI files, but you can tell they draw their inspiration from them. For the most part, the levels are pretty straight forward and fairly easy to complete. However, there are many stages where areas are inaccessible with the characters Kirby is able to befriend in the stage. Therefore, to unlock everything in a stage, you will need to go back with characters from other stages to find all the hidden puzzle pieces. If you are a completionist, this makes for good replay as you can explore each completed mission with a different cast of characters each time until everything is unlocked.
The gameplay is simple but not in a way that is insulting to gamers. It makes sense, this is after all a game designed with both adult and child gamers in mind. So far, I have only played single player so I can’t speak to the co-op experience. At times, combining powers can be a bit sloppy. I remember one time, I wanted to combine electricity with my weapon to use the electricity power on an item but when I attempted to combine powers, the Burning Leo came over to me and added fire to my weapon. While this doesn’t break the game, it can be irritating. My guess is that with co-op play this can be easily remedied.
In general, this is a fun game but it could have used some more depth and development. I would have liked the levels more if they offered more chance for exploration. The brevity of levels is good on the Switch though as a lot of users play the system while commuting or in short bursts as opposed to long gaming sessions common on other consoles. The cast of characters offers a good variety in ability combinations. If you are looking for a stress free and fun co-op game, or a game suitable for a younger audience, I recommend it. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Kirby Star Allies a 7.25