Game: Super Kirby Clash
System: Nintendo Switch
Developers| Publishers: HAL Laboratory| Nintendo
Price: Free to start (in game purchases)
Age rating: EU 3+| US E
Release date: 5th September 2019
Announced during our recent Nintendo Direct and released on the same day, this cute Free to Start game is a charming and compelling entry into the Kirby franchise! Free to Start is an upcoming type of gameplay that is becoming more prevalent in the gaming environment, especially on mobile gaming. But more on that later, let’s dive right in to Super Kirby Clash!
Be the hero and save the town!
The game starts with an introduction to the storyline of the game, and the fact that a hero is needed to save the town and all of Dream Kingdom! No pressure then. It’s up to YOU to be that hero…but you don’t need to travel alone!
When you first land in the town, you are roped in to a mini tutorial, showing you where to go and what to do. You begin at the Quest Board, which is the hub of the game and where you will spend time selecting which type of quest you would like to try. Also, you see which mode you can select (Story Quest mode or Party Quest mode, and single player or multiplayer).
Once you have completed the small tutorial, you are free to roam as you see fit and are given a level of autonomy with how you choose to play the game. The town itself, in its current version of the game, is small and is 3D side scrollable. There’s the Shoppe, which holds a whole host of items to improve your gameplay. Other then that, there’s The Quest Board, The Gem Apple Tree and The Bell.
The Shoppe contains items within the following brackets: Weapons, Armour, Support Items, Stickers and Gem Apples. They are all displayed in an easy layout on screen and accompanied by quaint yet quirky music. But wait, what are Gem Apples, I hear you ask?! Well, that’s the part of the game that puts it in the “Free to Start” category. It’s not as scary as it sounds!
Gem Apples is what makes Kirby’s world go ‘round
Gem Apples can be earned every 12 hours from the Gem Apple Tree in town, and completing various heroic quests that are interwoven into the game also earn you a handful of Gem Apples. So whilst it is clear that the game is incentivising you returning to the game (not much different from the games on the 3DS like Mii Quest) it is also encouraging you to use real life cash to progress the game. At the time of writing, the Gem Apple store starts at 50 Apples for £.049 and goes all the way up to 5,000 Apples at a whopping £35.99. This not only gives you Gem Apples but also increases the amount of free Gem Apples you can receive from the Gem Apple Tree in your town.
I will be the first to say, however, that purchasing Gem Apples isn’t pushed on you in any way. It is entirely optional but would certainly help progression in the game faster! I will leave it up to you as to whether you think it’s good value or not, you’ll have to let me know what you think!
But enough about that, we knew there had to be a catch somewhere, right!? On to the good bit!
Get questing: alone or with friends
One of the key features of the game is that it is based on energy gauges. These gauges deplete depending on what type of quest you choose to play. These gauges are called “Vigor gauges” and are yellow and green in colour, to represent Story Quest mode and Party Quest mode respectively. Each quest that you choose will have a “Vigor number” next to it – this is the number that your Vigor gauge will reduce should you choose that quest. In this sense, it limits gameplay, but not in such a way that feels intrusive.
It should be noted that this is not just a single player game; you can connect with up to 4 players in both modes! You can play with a friend by giving him a joycon. But if you have a Nintendo Online subscription, you can also go online to play with others. The players can choose to be Sword Hero, Hammer Lord, Doctor Healmore or Beam Mage. The Sword Hero slices and shields while the Beam Mage casts slowing magic. Doctor Healmore drops puddles of healing magic. And the slow moving Hammer Lord swings its mallet for massive damage.
Each quest involves defeating a beast or monster within a set time limit and you and your other Kirby’s must band together to defeat them! For instance, there’s King Doo, Hornhead, Mr. Frosty giant or Waddle Dee. Gameplay is simplistic: jump, attack and block, alongside left and right movement across the screen to move out of the way of some devastating attacks! This simplistic gameplay does not take away from its charm. If anything it allows the game to be more thoroughly enjoyed.
Once completed, these quests are ranked based on your completion time and you earn shards. These you can then use to purchase cool weapons and stamina increasing armour in the shop…but don’t forget to buy your buddies some weapons too and make sure you’re prepared for any onslaught!
All in all, Super Kirby Clash is an excellent title for a free to start game. It’s cute, unobtrusively innocent and isn’t forceful in pushing it’s optional purchases. The easy-to-use controls make it easy to pick up and play for newbies and veterans alike. It’s very hard not to be sucked in by Kirby!