Kirby is one of those games that hasn’t changed much over time.
Sure, the graphics have improved, Kirby’s abilities have extended to include fancier mechanics, and levels are more detailed and plentiful than they once were, but a Kirby game is very much a Kirby game, whether it be from 1994 or 2018.
That’s no bad thing, mind. I remember playing Kirby on the SNES when I was six or seven and feeling awash with happiness. Kirby’s first outing on the Nintendo Switch, Kirby Star Allies, makes me feel much the same way even now I’m 30.
Star Allies, from start to finish, is a delightful kaleidoscope of colour and joy. Kirby, pink and rotund as ever, is brought to life with the most impressive amount of detail we’ve ever seen, and his friends and foes are plentiful and more varied than ever. With dozens of different skills that Kirby can absorb, it’s a joy to suck up an enemy to take their skill just to see what Kirby will look like. The wealth of outfits and skills he can acquire is pretty spectacular.
But it’s in how Kirby Star Allies plays that’s the real joy. I have a love/hate relationship with most platform games; the vast majority infuriate me too much to enjoy playing them, with finicky controls and inordinate difficulty spikes. Not so with Kirby. There’s a distinct lack of challenge, sure, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s just so pleasant to play. Rather than being a test of skill, each new level is just about bringing you something to make you smile. Whether it be a funky new type of enemy, befriending someone new or an ingenious use of your abilities, Kirby will continue to make you smile.
If you couldn’t already guess by Kirby’s pink chubbiness, “cute” is the name of the game in Kirby Star Allies. Kirby can make friends with enemies with certain skills by throwing a heart at them, which is accompanied by a cute animation. At the end of each level, Kirby and his friends will do a cute little victory dance. And should you activate some kind of special friend ability — oh boy. Cuteness overload.
If you’re wanting a challenging experience, Kirby Star Allies isn’t it. But if you’re looking for something that’ll warm your heart, make you say “aww” more times than a puppy and put a smile on your face while your stresses melt away, look no further.
Kirby Star Allies is available on Nintendo Switch. Buy it now from Amazon UK.