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Review: Kirby Star Allies (Switch) ~ Let’s Be Friends

KirbyStarAllies.jpg

Official website

I enjoy the Kirby games quite a lot. The atmosphere and gameplay are the biggest reasons I’m drawn to the series. So, when I learned that a new game got released on Switch, I placed it on my “To Buy” list. Earlier this month, I bought myself a copy of this game on a small sale. So, today I want to give my honest opinions on the game. Is it any good or is it not worth your time? After playing Kirby Triple Deluxe and Kirby Planet Robobot, I was quite interested to see what the new offer on the Nintendo Switch will bring. As usual, feel free to leave your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. 

It’s raining hearts

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Kirby is peacefully sleeping in his house when he gets a rude awakening. Some dark hearts are raining down on his homeland, the land of Popstar. Of course, Kirby goes on an adventure to save the day.

As usual for a Kirby story, the story isn’t the big reason you play this adventure. If you played Triple Deluxe or Planet Robobot, you have seen and experienced this story line and structure before. The writing is solid and together with the character noises, the story comes somewhat alive. But, again, the story shouldn’t be the reason you play a Kirby game.

If you do care about spoilers, don’t highlight the following part. But, I want to tell some things about the ending of the main story. So highlight the rest of this paragraph if you don’t mind spoilers or have already beaten the game. … Okay, while I was playing the final levels of this game, I got a déjà vu. And I had to look it up. This ending has actually been done quite a few times before, but the reason I got a deja vu is because this ending is so similar to the ending of the Kirby game on NES. Seriously, watch a video from the final boss of Kirby Star Allies and than Kirby on the NES. You will be surprised. But, I guess it’s a reference or easter egg? 

Alright, the spoilers end here. Before I continue any further, I want to say that this game is extremely short. You can finish this game in an afternoon since the main story will take you only 6 hours. If you want to complete the whole game, you can do this in 14 hours. This was a huge let down, since the 3DS games were longer than that to fully complete. If you wanted to fully complete those games, you have to put aside 26 hours for each game.

I honestly don’t understand why this game is so short. Since the worlds you explore are fun to go through. Yet, there are only 4 worlds, well 5 if you count the one-stage world to fight the final boss in.

Besides that, there are a few mini-games and a co-op mode and that’s it. The post-game content isn’t anything special. I’m sorry, but Nintendo, why is this game priced at 60€? Are we for real? You can get the 3DS games for less money. Also, other Switch games like Super Mario Odyssey have a lot more to do in it for the same price tag.

Anyways, I’m not going to ramble about the price & length for too long. Otherwise it will overtake this whole review. Let’s be friends and review this … short … adventure.

Let’s be friends

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Each Kirby game has an unique gimmick that sets the games apart. In this game, you can recruit 3 enemies to fight along your side. These characters can be controlled by either a pretty good AI or a friend.

I haven’t played this game with a friend so, I won’t comment on that but, you can play this game with up to 4 players. Since the game is quite short, this game would make for the ideal late night gaming session to play through with your friends.

Now, this game goes further with the gimmick and sort-of reuses a gimmick from a previous entry in the series. Remember Kirby 64 – The Crystal Shards, where you were able to combine two different powers to create one unique power? Well, that returns in this game. Sort of.

For example, when you get the sword ability, you can hold up your sword up in the air. When some elemental friend sees this, they will infuse their power with the sword. So, you can get a flame sword. This leads to some unique strategies and puzzles to get the collectibles.

I found it quite enjoyable to see which unique combinations I could make by mixing powers. While some combinations create the same outcome, I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t too many joke combinations in this game. That was part of the charm in Crystal Shards. Where a combination could turn Kirby into a fridge.

Each time you combine a power, an animation plays where Kirby shows his new weapon/ability in a short of Smash Bros style. Surprisingly, you can change this in the options menu. You can choose between “always show them” or “show them only once.”. If you pick the last one, it will play the animation for each combination one time and when you make that combination again, it won’t play that animation.

There are various new unique abilities in the game as well. For example, the spider and art ability. To be honest, the art ability is overpowered, even for a Kirby game. It can spawn in various healing items with a short cool down. So, you can heal yourself and allies very quickly.

Now, I might be a bit too harsh on this game now. While the game is too short and could have been expanded a bit more, the level design was a blast to play through. The various abilities and friend combinations you can have make for a very replayable game. Also, in the puzzle rooms, the abilities you need are usually inside the room. And if the AI kills them, just walk off screen, wait a few moments and go back and they will have respawned.

The collectibles this time around are puzzle pieces. The hunt for them reminds me of the puzzle mini-game in the Mii Plaza on the 3DS. There are two types of puzzle pieces inside the levels. The normal blue ones and the special rainbow colored ones. The special rainbow colored ones unlock the pink pieces. The blue ones unlock a random piece of a picture. These pictures are just for having something to collect. I think they unlock new characters in the Dream Palace, but I’m unsure. Since I got every character unlocked by beating the game but I haven’t got all puzzles unlocked. The message after unlocking a puzzle stats: “You will be able to meet legendary characters”. So yeah.

It’s no secret that the Kirby games are easy and have a more challenging mode for more experienced players. To fully complete the puzzles, you will have to look around in the various levels. If you would have missed an unique piece, you can see that right from the level select screen. Included on the level select screen, you can also see if there is a hidden switch in the level that opens a hidden level. Including the hidden levels, there are 40 levels in total.

Press X to revive

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These 40 levels take you through 4 different chapters. During these 4 chapters, you explore various locations presented with an amazing visual polish.

The artwork in this game is really good. Together with great animations, the game’s visual presentation is top notch. I don’t have anything to criticize on that front.

In terms of the music and sound, I do have something to say. The soundtrack of this game is pretty good. For those who love nostalgia as much as myself, you will be happy to know that there are a lot of musical references in this soundtrack. Now, there are a few tracks of this soundtrack I disliked. These play in the final moments of the game. Thankfully, it’s only for one battle.

Now, speaking about battles and combat, the controls for this game are good. I did had some minor issues here and there. With some abilities I was unable to easy switch directions, like with the bird ability. When I started attacking, I felt I was locked in that attacking animation. Giving my enemy the chance to put in some damage.

It’s a minor problem since I finished this game with 85 additional lives. You only loose a life when Kirby dies. When an ally dies, you can hold “X” for a short time to revive them with a 1/2 health bar. Speaking about those friends, like the music there are some amazing references there too. My favorite reference is the return of the animal buddies from Kirby’s Dreamland 2 on the gameboy. That game was one of the first Kirby games I ever played.

Anyways, I was talking about the minor issues I had with controls. Another minor issue is that when you have a certain ability and you want to release that ability as a friend… Well, though luck. I haven’t found a way to do that.

The gameplay in this game is like any other Kirby game. It’s a 2D platformer-adventure game where you try to get to the big door at the end of the level. Now, another unique gimmick appears in some levels. In some levels, you will need to have 3 friends before you can progress. You can come across pedestals where you can “merge” together to from a bridge for an ally with a key to cross or you can form a boulder to roll down smashing rocks. I know that it’s a kids game, but the names the developers gave for some of these things are just… “The Friendship Bridge”… Do I have to say more?

The game is still a blast to play. I enjoyed myself quite a lot and rarely got annoyed with the level design. The final level gets a bit tricky with moving blocks. I lost a handful of lives thanks to being squished by those blocks. But, I was rushing things where I needed to take it slow.

Besides the music and various returning characters, the game has other references to previous games in them. Just look at what statues Kirby can change into using the stone ability. The Kirby dance makes a return as well and is adorable as ever.

In this game, there are also various puzzle rooms where you can get bonus stars, puzzle pieces and various other things. By default, the game tells you which abilities you need to use to solve the puzzle. You can disable this in the options menu, from the main menu. Why are the options you find in the main menu not able to be changed during gameplay? I can understand that it’s tricky to code while you are in a level but I think it would serve no big problems on the world map right?

The post-game content is decent but I expected a lot more from it. The two new modes are fun to mess around with but I feel like they are more designed for multi-player than for single player.

Anyways, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s time for the conclusion of this article and my final thoughts on the game.

The conclusion

The good:

+ Fun new gimmicks.

+ Fun to play.

+ Great visual design.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ The nostalgic references.

The bad:

-Way too short & too expensive at 60€.

-Minor control issues.

-The story…

-Useless collectibles.

Final thoughts:

Is this game a bad game? No, this game is a decent game but it’s too light on content. This game has the usual Nintendo polish and there is nothing really game breaking wrong with the game.

My big problem with this game is the length and the price they ask for it. In addition to that, some parts of this game are more designed for multiplayer. I feel that this game could be more fun to play with friends or family.

I do recommend this game, but wait for a price drop or buy it on the cheap. If you pay full price for this game like myself, the shortness of the game might be disappointing. I was able to beat this game in 2 days. This game just needed a longer development time.

That’s everything for this article. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Score: 65/100

EDIT: This post got a “Nice Job” badge from NormalHappenings. Read more here: https://normalhappenings.com/2018/09/14/nice-job-badges-for-september-14-and-a-guide-to-making-the-most-boring-game-show-ever/

 

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First Impression: Iubes 2 (PC) ~ Death To All Cubes?

iubes 2Official website

For this game, there is a death counter on the website that keeps track of how many iubes were killed in action. What are iubes? Well, these are intelligent cubes fighting against other intelligent cubes. So, you will start in one house without any allies and you will have to fight for yourself in this interesting online strategy game. It’s a game where you can’t micromanage your party, but you have to macromanage it. And if you defeat other players, you can become the new king. Interested? Good, I’m too. So, let’s dive right into my first impressions after playing a few matches in Iubes 2. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Survival of the cubes

Iubes 2 (1)So, this game doesn’t have a story to speak off. Well, if you can call the fact that there are 4 factions a story, then there is a story. But each faction has the same abilities compared to the others, so the color you choose only matters to which color you are fighting for.

Something I really like about this game is the UI. The humor put into the UI is really great. Especially the menu system. I really love the design. Also, I really love how there is a button to switch between windowed mode and full screen. This is a really neat feature.

There is one bug I have to mention, that might be fixed when I release this article but switching between monitors in the options menu crashed the game for me each and every time I tried. But, when I launched the game again, it displayed on the screen I had chosen.

The first thing I have to warn players about is the fact that the camera system is something you need to get used too. Since the world is spherical, the camera system is special. At first, it might be a bit disorienting. But don’t worry, you will get used to the camera system after messing with it for a bit in the tutorial.

The tutorial can be replayed whenever you want by going to the help menu and clicking the “tutorial” button. Also, the tutorial helps you get through a basic round of this game and explains everything in detail. But, it only has one opponent. So, you learn only the basics in this tutorial. The help feature isn’t far away if you need it.

RTS with a twist!

iubes 2 (2)At its core, Iubes 2 is a hybrid game between RTS, Strategy and an action game. The game plays like an RTS, but the benefit is that you don’t have to micromanage everything. Unlike games like Age Of Empires and Rise Of Nations, you don’t have to create a boatload of villagers to gather stone, food, wood… for you. The cubes are smart enough to do that for themselves.

This means you can focus on building the right buildings and preparing yourself for war in defeating the other players. While the gameplay is more focused on online play, there is also the ability to play this game offline.

I’m going to come clean and say that I haven’t played this game online yet. Since I’m not the best in online games and I enjoy playing my games more offline, to be honest. I did test out the online game for a bit and I have to say that I haven’t experienced any major issues. So, for this review, I’ll focus more on the offline side of things. If that’s fine with you.

After beating the tutorial, I played several rounds on the easy difficulty. I do have to say that after playing various rounds of other RTS games, this is something you need to get used too. If you enjoy RTS games and you want to play another RTS with some unique mechanics, look no further then Iubes 2.

The fact that I don’t have to micromanage is a godsend. This makes the game fast paced and fun. After I got used to the camera system and the gameplay, I was defeating the AI on easy without any care in the world. It’s true what they say in the Steam reviews and in the game itself. Matches between experienced players can last up to 25 minutes or less.

Visually round

Iubes 2 (3)So, the game is a very pretty game. I really like how the world is designed. The polygon graphics really pop due to the chosen color scheme. While all worlds are randomly generated, I really love the effect that you get when staring down the tube and seeing the hills and trees in the distance. It’s really impressive how optimized the game is too.

The game doesn’t require a lot of resources so it can be played on low-end devices. This gets a thumbs up from me.

Together with the amazing visual design comes an amazing soundtrack. For real, I wish I could buy this soundtrack. Sadly, that isn’t an option right now. I really love the techno-style soundtrack that this game has to go. If I was able too, I would love to add this to my day-to-day playlist actually.

The sound design is good. While I wish there were a bit more sound effects for when thunder would strike or your warriors would attack, I think that the sound effects that are already present in the game do their job pretty well.

So far, I have only been saying praises about the game. Are there any negatives about this game? Well, yes there are. The biggest complaint I have is, there is no save feature in the single-player mode. Yes, you can’t save a match and come back later. So, if your game crashes or automatic updates happen… tough luck, you will have to restart. I understand that this isn’t present since the games are pretty quick to finish, but an autosave from your latest games would be helpful to have the two example situations I talked about earlier.

A second complaint I have is that the tutorial doesn’t explain everything. Don’t get me wrong here, the tutorial is short and to the point, but only explains the usefulness of three buildings. I wish there were more tutorials to explain the other buildings. Or the tutorial could be expanded just a little bit longer to talk about what each building is used for. I feel that this is a missed opportunity. Like, the game has so many features but the tutorial only explains so little. On the other hand, I’m happy that the tutorial isn’t forced upon the players so you can explore and experiment with your heart’s content.

My 3rd complaint is something that can be fixed in a future update. A button to quickly go to your tower when you are either lost or you need to defend it.

And that is all my complaints really. I think that this game is pretty well developed. The game actually feels finished and polished up. I said it before, if you are a fan of RTS games, give this one a go. It’s RTS but with an interesting twist. If you are a fan of strategy and action games, this game is something for you. The game is currently 19€ on Steam. The game only works on Windows and MAC. Surprisingly, this game can run on Windows XP. Oh well, that’s just my nostalgic bone tingling.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to talk about for this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!