Kirby was created by a 21-year-old Masahiro Sakurai. This talented young programmer would then go on to create one of gaming’s most influential titles, Meteos, and a crossover called Super Smash Bros. too. With the brand new tech of the Super Nintendo, HAL wanted to use Kirby as a way to show off what was possible with the system. It led to the creation of Kirby Super Star. Super Star was considered one of the series’ best. In the late 2000s, HAL was determined to remake and upgrade Kirby’s early history. This culminated in Kirby Super Star Ultra on the DS. Kirby was a series that has mostly passed me by. I was excited to jump into a game many fans consider their favorite!
Super Star doesn’t really have a story. Super Star was split into seven smaller adventures, and Ultra added four more. Spring Breeze is a remake of Kirby’s Dream Land but serves as an introduction to Super Star’s gameplay. In Dyna Blade, Kirby will be preventing the titular bird from taking all of Dream Land’s crops. The Gourmet Race is simple. Kirby and King Dedede get into a race to eat as much food as possible. Exploring The Great Cave Offensive, Kirby must hunt for sixty treasures hidden deep underground. Fighting against The Revenge of Meta Knight, Kirby must down the Halberd and take the mysterious swordsman head-on. In Milky Way Wishes, Kirby is tasked by Marx to stop a deadly fight between the sun and the moon and must find the cosmic clock Nova to do it. The Arena is a simple boss rush, and the True Arena is only a harder version of it. Revenge of the King is only a harder version of Spring Breeze. Meta Knightmare Ultra sees the player controlling Meta Knight to save Dream Land, and Helper to Hero has the player control one of the games many helpers to fight bosses.
Each subgame has a few cutscenes sprinkled throughout them. They all tell their stories in a unique enough way. Being on the DS, all of these scenes are grainy and hard to look at it. Even for a Kirby game, there’s nothing to get invested in. Watching these old FMVs is more of a novelty than anything else. I appreciate how much effort was put into something that easily could’ve been an afterthought.
Gameplay is king in Super Star. My biggest complaint with modern Kirby games is how heavy they feel and how slow Kirby is in the air. Super Star doesn’t suffer there at all! I’d consistently find myself shocked at how quickly I could fly around. There isn’t a single copy ability I’d call bad. As always, I had my favorites, but I never felt annoyed to not have access to them. I always felt just as capable with Kirby on his own. Almost every game in the series struggles to find that balance. You have a great Kirby game when the basic platforming is just as fun as rolling in wheel or flying with wing.
Some subgames decide to twist the basic formula. In The Great Cave Offensive, you’re exploring a large singular cave looking for sixty treasure chests. I like the idea of exploring expansive worlds. I love open-world RPGs and Metroidvanias, but something about The Great Cave Offensive rubbed me the wrong way. Milky Way Wishes completely does away with copying to gain abilities! Instead, you’ll have to find them throughout the world. In exchange, you can switch to any ability you’ve found at any time. I’d love to see a full Kirby game that uses this system.
Meta Knightmare Ultra was a subgame I was very mixed on. As per usual, Meta Knight can’t use other abilities. In most games, he has extra moves on top of the normal sword abilities to offset the handicap. In Super Star Ultra, you have to kill enemies to earn points. Those points will allow you to use his other moves by tapping on the touch screen. It just felt forced.
On both systems, Super Star is a beautiful game. Kirby has always gotten the most out of limited sprites, but nothing about this game feels limited. The fluid graphics go a long way in making the game fun to play. The music is right there with it! Many tracks have gone on to become series staples and iconic in their own right. I recommend just listening to the soundtrack on Youtube one day.
Super Star Ultra is a masterfully built title that took just too many risks. I like what I see from these subgames, but not enough of them are on offer to feel satisfying. I want to see more from Milky Way Wishes and Revenge of Meta Knight. I’d like to see where they could take a full game in the style of The Great Cave Offensive. Super Star was always a tool to show off the types of games the Super Nintendo could produce, but this package just feels like a glorified tech demo. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Super Star Ultra or checking out the original on the Nintendo Switch Online Service.
Kirby was an easy shoo-in for the original Super Smash Bros. roster! He was a popular Nintendo mascot created by Sakurai himself only a few years earlier. It’s not surprising that Kirby has been the most developed fighter in Smash history. It’s ironic that a character designed to be extremely simplistic became the most complicated fighter of the series. Simply because he can copy the neutral special move of every character in the game. This has presented a huge challenge to the team over the years. As Ultimate grows with DLC, so does Kirby’s potential moveset, and I’m excited to see what the puffball will be able to do by the end.
Meta Knight was the first newcomer revealed for Brawl! Many felt like he was long overdue. Meta Knight uses many of his techniques as a boss to challenge the opponents of Smash. He feels like a one-to-one translation from his appearance in the series itself. The moveset is the perfect encapsulation of who exactly Meta Knight is. Lightning fast, honed, and extremely deadly.
King Dedede came waddling slowly into Brawl soon after Meta Knight! Dedede is one of Smash’s few heavyweight fighters. He takes many more creative freedoms, but still has a tightly packed moveset of references. Out of the Kirby cast, Dedede is easily my favorite to play. I enjoy large characters that can do damage as big as their bellies. He’s even voiced by Sakurai himself!
Kirby has a lot of content in Smash Ultimate, but that does not mean the series is well represented. Just look at the Fire Emblem franchise! With three characters, six stages, many music tracks, six items, and fifty-five spirits, there’s no shortage of Kirby content in Ultimate. Most of it, especially the big addition, only come from games as late as Super Star. Which is to say, most of the content in Smash comes from Sakurai-directed Kirby games. I can understand wanting to work with what you created, but I think there needs to be a less of a focus on the old. I still think it’s insane that Bandanna Dee and Magalor aren’t even assist trophies.