Arts & Reviews

Kirby Star Allies: Does A Game Need To Be Challenging To Be Good?

By: Mike Massotto

While the Kirby franchise is known for its adorable characters and vibrant level design, it also has a reputation of being one of the easiest platform games on the market. When gamers are looking for a challenge, they’ll usually pick up Cuphead. Others looking for a more casual experience can grab a copy of the latest Super Mario Bros. However, Kirby games tend to fall into their own niche of being “extra casual.” The question we are faced with is whether or not a game that puts up almost no challenge is capable of being fun. Thankfully, the newest Kirby game, Kirby Star Allies, seems to be the perfect title to discover the solution to this peculiar question.

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All Kirby games as of late bring one or two new mechanics to distinguish themselves from the dozens of other Kirby games that have been released across the past two decades. In the case of Kirby Star Allies, Kirby now had the ability to throw “hearts” at enemies in the game to convert them into allies who fight alongside you. Kirby can have up to three allies at a time, and when wielding physical weapon like a sword or a spear, certain minions can imbue effects such as fire, water, lightning, and wind to give Kirby’s attacks more stopping power and stunning visual effects as you romp through the vivid landscapes that the Kirby games are known for.

The issue is that having a posse of computer controlled fighters makes the entire game a cakewalk. My first thought was that this would totally ruin the game as there would be no difficulty at all, but I then reminded myself that this was just the first few levels and I should wait to see if the game becomes more difficult. What I discovered was strange: the game didn’t get more difficult, but as the level designed became more complex and I discovered new combinations with my entourage of disciples, the game became more enjoyable. Kirby Star Allies didn’t go stale, it revealed more of its enjoyable gameplay and creative level design as I progressed. Granted, the game was still a cakewalk from start to finish, but if the goal of a game is to be fun, Kirby Star Allies certainly achieved that.

With level design that always presents itself with new content, an enjoyable collection of entertaining mechanics, and a stunningly vivid color palette, Kirby Star Allies manages to be a fun platformer even without providing much of a challenge. While this installment in the series is definitely catered to a casual audience, it is important to note that there are more difficult modes that are available after the default game is completed. Keeping this in mind, Kirby Star Allies had earned a solid 6.5 out of 10, as it is enjoyable and is everything a Kirby game should be, but lacks a level of difficulty that may leave some gamers disappointed with their purchase. That’s all folks!

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