Parents need to know that “Kirby Star Allies” is a side-scrolling platformer with frequent but mild cartoon combat. Colorful characters hit each other with weapons, fists, and magic. Defeated enemies simply disappear. Much of the game is focused on the concepts of friendship and teamwork, with Kirby able to turn almost any enemy into a friendly ally by gifting them a big pink heart. As a team, Kirby and up to three friends — other players or computer controlled characters — can work together to bypass obstacles by doing things like forming a bridge or flying around on a star. Parents should note that this game supports amiibo figurines, which are sold separately and used to unlock puzzle pieces and helpful items.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Kirby Star Allies provides a pretty straightforward side-scrolling platformer experience with one notable twist: Nintendo’s beloved pink puffball can turn almost enemy he encounters into a friendly helper by giving them a big pink heart. As usual, he can also copy enemy abilities by swallowing them. But with up to three helpers in tow — all of whom can be controlled by other local players with their own controllers — players now have access to a broader range of abilities necessary to solve little contextual problems. A friend with an umbrella can use it to deflect a waterfall while a fire-powered pal lights a dynamite fuse running beneath it, all while Kirby fights off any nearby enemies with a hammer, a zap of electricity, or a karate punch. More than that, pressing up on the control stick signals allies to combine their powers in fun ways, often resulting in supercharged fighters or the ability to overcome an obstacle. Beyond the friendship theme, players can expect more of what’s made Kirby’s adventures so popular in the past, including simple boss fights, plenty of hidden doors and unlockable bonus stages, and lots of collectibles, including jigsaw puzzle pieces that gradually assemble into celebratory pictures.
IS IT ANY GOOD?
Nintendo is famous for its feel-good platformers, but this one kicks things up a notch. By giving us the ability to befriend almost any bad guy — yes, even the notorious villain King Dedede and mysterious Meta Knight — by giving them big puffy pink hearts, Kirby Star Allies deepens the franchise’s already laudable atmosphere of friendliness. Watching your little group of four pals work together by, say, one lighting another’s sword on fire for a little extra oomph, or all four joining together to create a bridge, is a joy. Add in some truly fun new abilities for Kirby to copy, such as the power to paint portraits on canvases to bring items into the world and a chef skill that can whip up scrumptious meals, and you have yet another winner of a Kirby adventure.
Having so many characters — both enemies and allies — onscreen all acting of their own accord occasionally makes things a little hectic. Don’t be surprised if you sometimes lose track of Kirby amid all of the movement and effects. And bonus multiplayer mini-games available on the title screen — like one in which you simply bat a ball at an asteroid, aiming for maximum power — feel like purposeless throwaway content. But don’t worry about getting your money’s worth; Kirby Star Allies has great replayability — especially if you have a friend or family member who can play with you.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for ages 8 and older
Quality: 4 out of 5
Positive messages: 3 out of 5
Positive role models: 2 out of 5
Ease of play: 3 out of 5
Violence and scariness: 2 out of 5
Language: 0 out of 5
Consumerism: 1 out of 5 (Are products/advertisements embedded? Is the title part of a broader marketing initiative/empire? Is the intent to sell things to kids?)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nintendo of America
Release date: March 16, 2018
ESRB rating: E10+ for Cartoon Violence
Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.
©2018 Common Sense Media
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
TO SUBSCRIBE TO MOMS
This column/content is for subscribers only. It is sold separately and is not included in your Tribune News Service subscription. To subscribe, please contact Rick DeChantal at Tribune Content Agency, (866) 280-5210 or email@example.com, or you can purchase individual columns a la carte at www.tribunenewsservice.com.
PHOTOS (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194):