For whatever reason, Nintendo’s lil’ pink creampuff has never enjoyed the same popularity as Mario and Co. But when it comes to games with cute, fluffy heroes eating equally as cute enemies and stealing their abilities, Kirby’s got the market cornered. Still, Kirby’s adventures have often been overshadowed by bigger Nintendo franchises. So, it’s probably a safe bet that the DS’ Kirby Super Star Ultra, a remake of the SNES’ Kirby Super Star, might be unfamiliar territory for some. For the uninitiated, Super Star Ultra is a broken-up platformer starring Kirby in various bite-sized adventures.
For whatever reason, Nintendo’s lil’ pink creampuff has never enjoyed the same popularity as Mario and Co. But when it comes to games with cute, fluffy heroes eating equally as cute enemies and stealing their abilities, Kirby’s got the market cornered.
Still, Kirby’s adventures have often been overshadowed by bigger Nintendo franchises. So, it’s probably a safe bet that the DS’ Kirby Super Star Ultra, a remake of the SNES’ Kirby Super Star, might be unfamiliar territory for some. For the uninitiated, Super Star Ultra is a broken-up platformer starring Kirby in various bite-sized adventures.
When the original Super Star debuted on SNES, its unique game structure made it a little ahead of its time. But with today’s hordes of Wii Play clones and mini-game collections running rampant, is this fresh coat of paint, a few extra games and new multiplayer feature enough to warrant another look?
If you like Kirby, then yes.
The meat of Super Star Ultra is a smattering of stages set up as itty-bitty Kirby quests, along with a few new stylus-based mini-games. Taking a page from Square-Enix’s recent “re-release old games for handhelds” book was probably a smart move on Nintendo’s part, since Super Star Ultra‘s broken-up levels lend themselves well to on-the-go gaming, and rarely even require a save point.
The main game is split up into traditional platforming levels and unlockable levels with specific objectives ranging from collecting treasure to beating villain King Dedede at an obstacle course race. The combined length of all the games is about equal to a traditional Kirby game, but the variety is a nice change of pace.
Like all Kirby titles, these games are usually a bit on the easy side, but the franchise’s sense of whimsy and entertaining gameplay sensibilities are intact and look swell, thanks to a colorful graphic facelift. Kirby’s kawaii aesthetic has increased over the years, (most recently thanks to the Kirby animated TV show), and it really shows here, thankfully adding to, rather than detracting from, the experience.
The mini-games are also (mostly) fun, if a little tacked-on. They’re generally easy and ADD-friendly, 30-second distractions with Kirby competing against other players in simple, Mario Party-esque situations. With only three new short games, this mode kind of feels like an afterthought rather than a full-fledged feature.
A multiplayer aspect has been added, as well, courtesy of the DS’ Wi-Fi capabilities.
In the game’s single-player mode, Kirby is joined by an A.I. buddy that can be played by a friend (and whose appearance can change depending on what palatable enemies are around). Up to three other players can join in the mini-games.
Rounding out the collection of new features are bonus introductory and closing cut scenes for each of the games and a video gallery.
Oh, and did I mention how sugary everything is? Between the game’s happy-go-lucky (and catchy-as-hell) tunes, appropriately quaint atmosphere and adorable costumes for Kirby, you might just contract diabetes. Not that such a thing is so out of the ordinary for the series.
If there’s a downside to Super Star Ultra, it’s that it doesn’t buck the series’ penchant for brevity. You can blow through this one in a number of hours, although the mini-games and multiplayer support might extend the replay value a little. But if you’ve played a Kirby game before, then it should come as no surprise that length is generally sacrificed for quality gameplay.
Super Star Ultra, much like most Kirby games, subscribes to the “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought. While it would have been nice to see some more content (or at least a few extra mini-games) added to what was already a fine jaunt, it’s nice to see one of Kirby’s more varied adventures breathing new life into the DS, which should be more than enough to satisfy most fans.
Plus, well, Kirby’s so damn cute. That’s got to be worth something … right?
Kirby Super Star UltraFor Nintendo DS$34.99
Kirby: a tasty chronologySince making his debut on the Original Game Boy in 1992, Kirby’s starred in 18 games, as well as some other appearances. Here are some highs and lows.
1992 – Kirby’s Dream Land ����(Game Boy)The first game in the series, Dream Land introduced the world to the concept of heroes who are cute and murderous.
1995 – Kirby’s Dream Land 2 (Game Boy)In the sequel to the original, Kirby was joined by cuddly animal buddies who would be tragically underused in future games.
1995 – Kirby’s Dream Course (SNES)An odd hybrid of golf and…an obstacle course, Dream Course had players using Kirby as a golf ball, only the titular dream course was littered with enemies and whatnot. The game also gave Kirby goofy special moves, such as the ability to turn into a tornado or an UFO.
1997 – Kirby’s Star Stacker (SNES) Another puzzle game clone, Star Stacker was exactly like Columns or Tetris attack…but cuter.
2001 – Kirby Tilt N’ Tumble (Game Boy Color)Tilt N’ Tumble used motion technology embedded in the large, pink see-through cartridge to move Kirby around the screen (like a ball). Players could also make Kirby “jump” by quickly jerking up on the Game Boy Color.
2003 – Kirby Air Ride (Gamecube)Often regarded as Kirby’s worst game, Air Ride was an extremely simple kart-style racer in which players rode giant magical stars. The game was criticized for being too easy and overly unoriginal.
2005 – Kirby: Canvas Curse (Nintendo DS)In Canvas Curse, Kirby wasn’t Kirby–rather, he was a powerless ball that had to be directed around in an unconventional style by using the DS’ stylus.