Kirby's First Game on the Nintendo Switch Is Also His Sweetest

If you've played other Kirby games in the past, you already know the gameplay basics of Kirby Star Allies—though this game literally adds the power of friendship in a brilliant and totally unexpected way.

As per usual, Kirby has his usual host of moves. He can puff up and fly through the air and do sweeping kicks, but his signature move is inhaling enemies and spitting them out as projectiles or swallows certain baddies to copy their unique abilities. Copying essentially transforms Kirby, enabling him to utilize a variety of attacks and movements.

But in Star Allies, enemies aren'just enemies. By throwing special Friend Hearts at them, you can transform them into your friends. You can recruit up to three allies at any time, and you'll want to have a full party of four whenever you can. They'll accompany you throughout the levels, helping you fight enemies and clear obstacles for you. Having a diverse group of buddies is always handy, because the more abilities at your disposal at any point in time, the better.


(Kirby Star Allies via Nintendo)

Better yet, you can combine abilities with your teammates to unlock new powers and access areas that would otherwise be closed off. For example, if Kirby has a sword and he's recruited a fire-breathing ally, the friend can ignite his weapon, morphing it into a flaming Sizzle Sword.


(Kirby Star Allies via Nintendo)

Having friends with different skills is also useful because you never know what kinds of environments you'll face. Sometimes you'll want ice powers to freeze waterfalls, water to douse fires, or electricity to zap power cords. Other times, you'll encounter patches of grass that can only be dealt with by sharp blades or fire, and piles of leaves that you can blow away with a gust of wind or sweep with a broom. The game lets the player use various solutions to solve the problems it presents.


(Kirby Star Allies via Nintendo)

There are also certain obstacles that require you to have the right friends by your side, utilizing your different skills in tandem for a specific purpose. By combining ice or water and rock powers, for example, you temporarily turn a character into a curling stone that smashes across the screen. A cutter mixed with wind creates a flying, slicing boomerang that can be maneuvered across the screen. It's important to try mixing and matching every ability to see what they all do. When your partners aren't necessarily doing the actions you'd like one to, you can jump on their backs as Kirby to control their movements.

Only by combining abilities and keeping your eyes peeled for secret areas will you successfully locate all of the red star doors. These lead to special challenge areas where you can unlock special levels or nab collectibles you can't find anywhere else in the game.

However, knowing the right path forward never gets too tricky. Typically, the game will tell you precisely which two powers to combine to get past the obstacle. This might make the game seem too easy for some. If you're bothered by it, you can turn this feature off and figure things out by yourself.

In certain levels, there are also special "Friend Action" pedestals that Kirby and three friends can step upon to perform unique stunts. While a Friend Circle puts them together in a giant spinning wheel capable of breaking walls, the Friend Star flies across the screen, shooting different projectiles, depending on who's in the lead. These super-powered moves are always a lot of fun to take on, and feel collaborative even when you're playing with three computer characters.


(Kirby Star Allies via Nintendo)

There's also a special unlockable area in each world called the Dream Fortress, where you can summon special allies to join you. Once you've defeated classic Kirby villains including King Dedede and Meta Knight, they get added to a special roulette wheel that assigns you a Dream Character for your team. It's a ton of fun to see them as allies to Kirby in this game.


(Kirby Star Allies via Nintendo)

As of this week, new DLC also added a few new characters to the Dream Fortress, including my personal favorite animal trio of Rick, Kine and Coo from Kirby's Dream Land 2. In addition to transforming between an adorable hamster, fish and owl, the team can generate fire, water and air to power up their friends—and they only use up one ally slot.


(Kirby Star Allies via Nintendo)

There are also a lot of small details that really bring the characters to life. At the end of levels and after boss fights, Kirby and his squad do a little dance to the Kirby theme that's totally irresistible.


(Kirby Star Allies via Nintendo)

And maybe my favorite thing in the whole game is that when you pick up a health-restoring food item, you can smooch your allies to pass along some of the healing goodness to them. While the game describes it as feeding it to your teammates, it's definitely a kiss and it'very sweet.


(Kirby Star Allies via Nintendo)

If you're looking for a huge challenge, Kirby Star Allies isn't it. The opening levels are particularly easy, and onscreen hints are always there to help if you're at a loss. The level segments are super manageable, and you'll collect oodles of extra lives as you play through. My only deaths have been due to falling in chasms as a Friend Wheel or getting crushed between closing walls. Just a few worlds in, you may find yourself with 80 lives or more.

However, it's a fun ride and may be the most charming Kirby game to date. If you're a fan of his past adventures, we guarantee you'll like this game, too.

Kirby Star Allies is now available now on the Nintendo Switch for $59.99.


For more on Kirby and his amazing powers, click HERE for our definitive ranking of Kirby's Battle Royale abilities.