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Review – Kirby Super Star Ultra (NDS)

A few months ago, I put out a request to my friends online to recommend some DS games.  The key was, I felt that I was stuck in a rut and I wanted something different that I wouldn’t likely even consider normally.

After several good suggestions, I decided on Kirby Super Star Ultra.  I’ve played Kirby’s Dreamland and Kirby’s Adventure many years ago and I’m pretty sure they were alright.  I have this unnatural love for Kirby’s Pokemon clone Jigglypuff.  It was a platform game, something I generally enjoy a lot.  I ended up picking it up.  Ok, gambling on a title like this can end up being a bust but having a $25 gift card to cut the cost helped a lot.

Basically, going into this, I had very little idea of what it would be.  I knew Kirby was a big pink ball who eats things an that the back of the package was pushing some sort of “multi character buddy system”.

As it turns out, this game is a game of Mini Games.  Not really Mini games in the WarioWare sense but Mini games in the Super Mario Allstars sense.  That is, each game is effectively a shortish but full independent game of it’s own.  The initial offering is 6 games, only one of which i unlocked from the start.  As you complete other games, more games unlock.  These games are all rated on a star based difficulty ranging from something like one star to many stars.

For people who are unaware.  The basic premise of Kirby is that Kirby will eat anything and everything, including enemies.  If you eat certain enemies, you can also choose to gain their abilities.  For example, eating a knight will let you wield a sword.  Eating a guy with a jetpack will give you a jetpack and the ability to dash.  Kirby’s natural abilities are limited to eating and puffing himself up in order to fly.  This game also lets you eject any ability once you’ve absorbed and create a helper.  That same knight ability an become a knight who will battle along side you.

Since this game has several separate games I’ll discuss each one shortly in a bit of detail.  They all contain the same general play mechanics but each tends to have a gimmick of it’s own.

So I started off with Spring Breeze, the first available game.  Turns out this game is a remake of the original Kirby’s Dream land.  Actually I had my suspicions that this game was the Super Mario Allstars of Kirby and all of the included games were in fact older Kirby games.  Turns out I was half correct.  Further research revealed that this game is in fact a remake of a previous Super NES game, though it includes a decent amount of new content.

Back to Spring Breeze.  It’s a basic stage based platformer with bosses at the end of each stage.  It will also give you an instant feeling of “buyers remorse” upon completion.  Spring Breeze is ridiculously short and ridiculously easy.

Which brings up my first real complaint about this game as a whole.  It’s easy.  It’s extremely easy.  Now granted, I’ve played a ton of platform games and being really good at something as comparably unforgiving as Super Mario Brothers makes this a cakewalk by default but this game tends to be too easy for it’s own good.  One of the last games to be unlocked with like ten stars ended up being one of the easiest overall.

The point is, don’t pick this game up expecting a challenge unless you’re a pretty novice level gamer.  That doesn’t make it any less fun really, it’s just means difficulty level is not a selling point at all on this title.

Anyway, like I said, buyer’s remorse.  You just now get the feeling that you’ve spent 30 bucks on a game that contains 6 games you’ll complete in 15 minutes each.  Kind of a gyp.  This problem will be amplified when you play the second game (in order of difficulty level).

dss92_2 Gourmet Race is the second game.  It’s a 3 stage race against King Dedede to eat as much as you can.  It almost feels like it should be in the mini games section.  There is exactly one “trick” needed to win this game easily and there are no enemies.  I played this game

Thankfully, things pick up a bit by the third game, Dyna Blade.  This game is another stage based game only this time the game’s four stages are laid out in a world map fashion.  This time the stages are longer than in Spring Breeze and the difficulty is actually noticeably (slightly) higher.

Things heat up finally with The Great Cave Offensive. This came consists of a large continuous mazelike level consisting of several themed areas.  The object is to travel through the cave and collect all 60 treasures hidden within (15 in each area).  Some of the treasures are obvious and easy to find.  Others require you to traverse far corners and carry particular equipment and/or helpers in order to acquire them.  Still a few are obvious but require a bit of ingenuity in order to get past a particular trap.  Probably the most difficult to figure out is one that is guarded by a strong wind.

Each area also includes a boss.  The bosses are fun to fight as they provide some difficult and it’s really irritating that they don’t return when you revisit the maze in order to collect more treasure.  Fortunately for anyone who enjoys the bosses, all of them start repeating a lot from this point on in the overall Kirby Super Star Ultra experience.

The treasures also add a bit of fun, many of them reference other Nintendo games with items such as the Master Sword and Captain Falcon’s Helmet.

The next game is Revenge of the MetaKnight, another stage based platform game of course.  This one adds a critical element, time.  Each stage has a quickly diminishing time limit in which to complete the stage.  This time limit is part of the plot which gives it even more urgency.  You must quickly fight through the MetaKnight’s ship and bring it down before it can cause any mayhem. 

This time element makes this game rather fun and intense with one complaint. There is a lot of text based plot unfolding around you as you rush through the stages.  The enemy leaders go on about how Kirby is storming the various areas and crack some jokes here and there.  Unfortunately the urgency of what’s going on on screen means you’ll end up missing lot of this plot.

The sixth game to be unlocked is Milky Way Wishes. This is another world map style game in the spirit of Dyna Blade.  The difference is you can play any of the stages from the start and you’ll need to revisit them several times as well.  This game differs from your standard Kirby game.  Instead of eating enemies and gaining their powers, you must find “Deluxe Ability” power ups.  This allows you to use any power at any time.  This makes this game the easiest of all.  Most of the time in the other games, the problem is finding the enemy you want to be to make things easy.  With this, you have all of your powers available all of the time.

These are the 6 core games.  After these you unlock an additional 5 games, though these tend to be variations on previous games as opposed to wholly new ones.  For example, Revenge of the King is essentially a remake of Spring Breeze with increased difficulty and a few new part added.  The three games, Arena, Helper to Hero, and True Arena, are all variations on the theme of “Fight every boss in order without dying.”

The best of these final unlocked games, and possibly the best game on the cart is Meta Knightmare Ultra.  This game has5 stages however each stage consists of each of the previous game’s levels all lumped together.  For example Stage 1 is Spring breeze, Stage 2 is Dyna Blade, etc.

The difference is, instead of Kirby, you play as Meta Knight.  Meta Knight doesn’t absorb abilities from enemies like Kirby, instead killing enemies fills a power meter.  This Power meters alows you to use on of four abilities built in.  You can summon a helper knight, increase your movement speed, heal your HP, or unleash a super attack.

The issue is though that you generally will use the pattern “summon a new knight if it dies, heal as needed, otherwise save all energy to hit the bosses with 1-2 special attacks which will always kill them.”  The Special attack really is a bit overpowered.

Some of the stages are also a bit more difficult as Metaknight.  Particularly anything that requires you to say, fly around lava.  Metaknight’s flight ability is much more jerky than Kirby’s and it can make some areas quite tricky.

There are also a handful of completely forgettable mini games that can be played.

Another really fun aspect of this game is the campiness.  I’m not quite sure if it’s intentional or not either.  The descriptions for everything are kooky with lots of weird emphasis.  There is also a hilarious RPG style boss where you take turns with it making attacks and when defeated gives experience.  This experience does things like increases your puffiness and cuteness and the game points out that these stats don’t really mean anything.

Ultimately, this game is a hard one to wrap up.  Really any sort of recommendation depends on what you want from a game.  This is certainly a fun decent game but it’s likely not going to be something anyone who considers themselves “hardcore” will want to play.  It has no difficulty and there isn’t much of a learning curve.  It does make a decent distraction and would likely appeal to someone who likes games like Mario a lot.  On the other hand, the oddity surrounding the game and it’s random almost pointless jumble of plot lines may confuse and irritate more casual gamers.  There isn’t any sort of cohesion between the plots of the various games.  Still, it’s fun to play, which is really what counts in the end.

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