Nintendo

Kirby Star Allies (Switch)

Of course a Kirby adventure allows players to throw shimmering hearts at enemies to make them friends. This is the same series that traveled to softened yarn worlds and set its conflict in squishy clay realms. Kirby is always happy. Hearts make it more so.

Star Allies fits into the media rush of stories about coming together and working as a team. Comic book movies inundate their scripts with team-based morals and animated films bunch characters together to take down a big bad. So it is here, adding the right bit of mania with up to four protagonists at once marching forward, rubbery and uncoiled, toward their goal. Creative sparks bind the team together in wacky ways, creating variety if not gameplay weight. That’s fine. No one comes to a Kirby expecting intellectual challenge. That’s what the series continues to do well and why it mixes so effortlessly against Mario and Sonic. Kirby’s wholesome and distinctive.

Recent Kirby outings focused on art aesthetics; not so much here. It’s gorgeous though, with deep backgrounds and softened depth of field adding to the scale. The tricks here lie entirely on the positive message of teamwork, even bringing rivals into Kirby’s stock. There’s a #walkup movement about, and Star Allies perpetuates that idea. Show empathy for others and good things happen. In this case, that’s saving a gentle, candy-colored world from certain doom.

The pace, the challenge (or lack thereof), the general ambiance; Star Allies beams a story of a pink puffball on another run against benign evil. That’s typical for the series. There’s still a sense of comical cruelty – one peace-loving creature sucks in a screen’s worth of enemies, boils them alive in a sprouted cauldron, then feeds the cooked carcasses to the heroes. It’s cute though; Kirby makes everything so.

4/5

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