ECCC 2018: First Impressions Of Nintendo’s Kirby Star Allies

by Gary Catig

Kirby is a beloved Nintendo character. Whether he is starring in his own series or kicking butt in Super Smash Brothers, people enjoy playing the round mound with the insatiable appetite.  At Emerald City Comic Con, the video game company brought his latest adventure, Kirby Star Allies, so attendees could gain a hands-on preview of the title prior to its release in a few weeks.
The first thing one noticed, before even playing, is the vibrant and whimsical graphics that matched well with the tone of the game.  There are even cool animated sequences like the use of giant bombs to destroy barriers in your path.  Controls and maneuverability were easy to pick up even without the help of a Nintendo representative that were present at the show.
I think one aspect people enjoy from any Kirby game is finding and trying out all the different abilities and power ups throughout.  Of course, you can gain abilities by swallowing your enemies and then there are what seemed like hats at fixed points to also obtain powers. The main focus though is converting your enemies into allies that then become playable characters. Any foe you cross pass with, minus the bosses, can be brought to your side by throwing a heart at it.
This opens up the game even more because now you can customize your own team of adventurers as you make your way through the game. You can even combine abilities to gain access to special powers. As you encounter puzzles, there is a strategic side since you need the right combination of skills sets to solve them.
As you gain allies, they can be controlled by AI or by your friends with up to four players total.  When you play alongside your friends, the gameplay harkens back to classic quarter guzzling multiplayer side scrolling beat ‘em ups like The Simpsons and T.M.N.T. Many attendees had positive responses playing with others.
Though the game was very fun, I do have concerns since I could not play the game long term. Only the beginning levels were playable and they were pretty easy to finish. Because of the all ages feel, I don’t know how challenging Star Allies would appear to more seasoned gamers. Hopefully as you progress, the difficulty level increases.
Also, I don’t know how redundant the game will be long term. It could easily follow the formula of any beat ‘em up side scroller of: start a level, beat everyone up, fight and beat boss, advanced to next level. With any luck, the inclusion of different puzzles and varied level themes can break any monotony.
Finally, I wish I could hear the music because the soundtrack can have a significant role in many video games.  I don’t know if the game was muted or there was too much sound and activity in the convention center, but I couldn’t really assess and enjoy the music.
Kirby Star Allies will be released on March 16, 2018.

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