Review: Kirby Super Star Ultra (DS)

Can Kirby prove that his latest DS adventure is a super offering?

It’s not at all hard to love Kirby – after all, he’s an adorable little puff ball! Nethertheless, despite being cute and on the short side, he packs a powerful punch and is not scared to dish out pain. This gives Kirby the appeal to satisfy young and old gamers alike, which has founds him make his way into many people’s hearts, both hardcore and veteran.

While Kirby’s last SNES outing didn’t exactly light up the sales chart, it did find a place on many gamers’ favourites list. With that in mind, Nintendo decided that it would be appropriate to recreate this overlooked adventure on the Nintendo DS so more players could experience it. The end result is a magnificent remake that captures every little detail of the original.

For those who have experienced a Kirby title, Kirby Super Star Ultra should hold no surprises whatsoever. Right from the moment you pick up the game, Super Star Ultra puts you on a rollercoaster ride full of enjoyment and classic platforming action with a bit of a twist. That being said, Kirby Super Star Ultra is a post of the SNES incarnation – albeit with some fine-tuning – and this may come as a disappointment for those who wanted a totally new Kirby experience.

While it makes use of many classic platforming elements, Kirby Super Star Ultra is no ordinary platformer. Instead of a simple ‘run-n-jump’ style that most other games adopt, Super Star Ultra breaks from the mould in favour of a more ‘float-n-fly’ style approach. Although this change severely reduces the difficulty of the game – you simply just keep puffing to stay out of chasms – it does prove to be an intriguing concept that makes Kirby Super Star Ultra stand out from the countless 2D platformers out there.

Another noteworthy difference that Kirby boasts is that he can suck up enemies and steal their special abilities for either his own benefit or to spawn a sidekick. Like Kirby, the sidekick that appears has a limited amount of health and once it’s depleted, he’ll simply vanish. The loveable pink blob can produce more sidekicks, though it’s worth mentioning that only one can be with him at any time.

Kirby Super Star Ultra certainly brings a lot of intriguing ideas to the table, some of which were absent in the original. This time around you can have your sidekick controlled by a second player: if you have an extra Nintendo DS and second copy of the game (without a copy of the game you can sync up your system and use it as a D-pad while looking over your buddy's shoulder). We actually thought this was quite a nifty feature, if a little awkward with one cart.

Upon viewing the main menu you’re given the option of six main games, and three mini-game-like games on the side. Each of the main games contains plenty of classic bite-size platforming adventures whereas the mini-games feel like simple diversions added to Kirby Super Star Ultra. Each main game has its own positives and negatives, and we found it hard to actually pick a favourite from the bunch – they’re just all great to play.

However, for those thinking they can dive into whatever adventure they want to from the outset, here’s a wake-up call – Spring Breeze is the only one unlocked at the beginning, and gaining access to other modes will require its completion. On the bright side though, Spring Breeze is rather short and simple adventure that acts as a perfect tutorial for newcomers to the franchise – you’ll be through it in a breeze!

Of course, Nintendo wanted to get Kirby Super Star Ultra in everyone’s Nintendo DS library, and to do so they added a considerable amount of new modes for the veterans. Once the original modes have been completed, four brand new ones become unlocked – all of which are as strong as the others. Nintendo have also made enhancements to the original by# including some high quality full-motion video sequences for introductions, endings, and level intermissions. And, while the in-game graphics haven’t undergone any major changes, they look great on the Nintendo DS.

The only thing that the game really lacks touchscreen controls; the touchscreen isn’t used nearly as much as it should be – most of the adventure is played using the D-pad and action buttons. That being said, it is included in the mini-games for 1-4 players – a nice addition, but one that doesn’t quite make up for the main adventure's unevolved controls.

In terms of difficulty, Kirby’s colourful adventure might put of a few of the hardcore gamers. Kirby is a character that looks cute and cuddly, which appeals to the younger audience. Because of this, Kirby Super Star Ultra is a very easy platforming game and – to some extent – a rather basic title: Levels are short, bosses are predictable and simple to beat, and when you add the extra computer or human-controlled sidekick in, things become even easier.

Conclusion

With all the small issues asides, Kirby Super Star Ultra is still a magnificent title. It isn’t difficult to see the high production values and the extent the developers went to make the game accessible to all age groups. Though it may be a little on the easy side, this still a Kirby outing you’ll not want to miss out on.