Kirby Superstar (SNES)

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Introduction

When it says “8 games in one” they’re not kidding. Kirby’s got to save the world from Dedede– twice–, a giant bird, Meta-Night, and no Kirby game would be complete if he didn’t have to save the world from a being from another world, planet, or reality. Kirby’s got new copy abilities and new, more sophisticated, buddies to summon — Gooey, you knew you were on thin ice. Join gaming’s favorite pink puffball as he faces his most dangerous foes yet.

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Where to start?

History

There seems to be a running trend now that Kirby games don’t have any development information. What I can say is that this game was released a year before Kirby’s Dream Land 3. I won’t say it looks better but it’s a much more complex and interesting game. It’s got six main campaigns and three minigames in contrast to Dreamland’s thirty levels. The art styles match the games very well but I feel like Superstar’s just looks better. Drop a comment if you’ve played them both and have a preference.

Kirby Superstar came out on September 20th, 1996. It’s competition was Tetris Attack (SNES), Phatasmagoria: Puzzle of the Flesh (PC), and The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall (PC).

Experiences

Despite the injection of plot I’ll admit that this game’s campaigns have some pretty weak and cookie cutter stories. Revenge of Meta Knight had the only story that really held my attention. Meta Knight and Kirby have been rivals for a long time but they’ve been known to team up every so often. I wanted to know what Meta Knight was swearing revenge for and it’s not really explained in the gameplay. Resting on the introduction screen shows  how the Halberd got created and why Meta Knight is attacking Dreamland — Why they don’t mention this in the game is a mystery to me.  As it turns out Meta Knight is conquering Dreamland because he disapproves of their “lazy lifestyle.”

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Hey man, Kirby and Dedede ran a three part marathon in this game alone. Are they really that lazy?

The weirdest thing is that I really sympathized with Meta Knight on this one. I don’t agree with his methods but Dreamland should probably get its act together and do something with its existence. Dedede is the king, maybe he should do something besides trying to hoard all the food — which he does in every game for some reason.

Gameplay

Very similar to other Kirby games, Kirby eats enemies and copies their abilities. His goal in every campaign is to fight enemies and beat up some meany head who’s being a jerk. Unlike other Kirby games this game has a sense of progression. Certain campaigns are only unlocked by beating other campaigns.

Gooey can’t help or hurt you in this game because he hasn’t been invented yet. Instead of summoning Gooey Kirby can turn his copied power into a buddy. Kirby can only have one buddy at a time and this buddy will do everything in his power to beat up Kirby’s enemies — to greater or lesser degrees. The second player can also take control of this buddy. If you’re annoyed with your friends or the buddy in general you can press the buddy button again to turn the buddy into an object that confers the copied ability when consumed.

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They’ve also all got… names. Hey, player 2, do you wanna play as Bonkers the ape man with a hammer? Why are you walking away?

The Gush

I hate banging on about the music all the time but the music in these games are really good. Games with bad music feel more drawn out and boring. Games with good music feel compressed, like all the bad or listless parts are forgotten because at least I had some sweet tunes to jam out to. And sweet tunes this game has.

I think this is the only game with an Earthbound reference in it. One of the treasures that you can find in the great Cave Offensive is a Mr. Saturn, of which there is a whole tribe in Earthbound — I love those big nosed guys.

Each of the different campaigns has a unique mechanic. The Great Cave Offensive has its treasure hunt — though it’s not necessary to find everything (We all know it is). Meta Knightmare introduces a time limit for each level — I guess Meta Knight disaproves of Kirby’s lazy pace. And in Milky Way Wishes Kirby unlocks his powers instead of getting them by inhaling his enemies — but… isn’t Kirby from space? Why would space creatures nullify his copy abilities? And why would other planets be filled with all of the same creatures as Popstar but with different color schemes?

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They also have different HUDs. Check out the Great Cave Offensive’s treasure map.

The Copy ability is an ability that allows Kirby to copy enemies. I bet you’re probably thinking, “Doesn’t he already do that by inhaling them?” Yes, this is true. But the point is that Kirby can turn this Copy ability into a buddy, allowing the second player to copy enemies like Kirby himself. This is a glorious godsend, a rare treat for the second player to play as a sort of mini-Kirby with.

The Kvush

The backgrounds are really hit or miss. The fight against Dedede features a crowd filled with enemies cheering– even Super Mario is hiding in the corner. The fight against Dyna Blade on the other hand has a plain purple background — I bet it has to do with her defeat animation but it still doesn’t look good. Check out the differences.

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Oh snap… a cloud….

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It’s even got an arena marquis!

 

The Kvetch

Six different campaigns, two minigames, and a boss rush. That’s a lot of things to do in a little SNES cartridge. You might be wondering what the game rewards the player with in return for doing all of these things — I mean, I am. Perhaps they grace us with a version of the credits that’s really silly or a unique little scene that sheds some light on characters. Nope… you get a sound test — do people even know what a sound test is anymore?

This game has got a lives system for seemingly no reason. Losing a life makes you restart the level. Running out of lives forces you to continue or quit. Continuing… also makes you start at the beginning of the level — I guess it’s supposed you make you feel bad or something. It shows that this silly mechanic was losing relevance even at this time.

Some of the tutorials are unskippable and unnecessary. It might be difficult to figure out that consuming an enemy copies their ability but the player can still spit enemies out to attack. It’s intuitive to think that a character who can inhale enemies can eat them. Eating an enemy that has no ability informs the player that that enemy didn’t have an ability. That hints the player that some enemies do things when they’re eaten. The game deprives the player of that sense of discovery — It’s also annoying as fuck to watch the same tutorial whenever I play the game.

The Verdict

This is the best Kirby game that I’ve ever played. I love it that much. If you like platforming and using crazy abilities then you’ll probably like this game. Bring a friend, turn him into a Waddle Dee with an umbrella, laugh at him, stop laughing as he starts knocking dudes out. It’s just a great time.

This game has got a remake for the Nintendo DS called Kirby Superstar Ultra. It makes the best even better. Pick it up if you’d rather be a pink puff ball on the go.

Next Week: Lord of the Rings: The Third Age.

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