Review by TheLuckySeven
Who said old Kirby games can't learn new tricks?
Kirby Super Star had always been my favorite Kirby game of all time. In addition, it was the first console game I had ever played and my brother and me played it through more times then I can honestly remember. Thus, when I heard about the remake, Kirby Super Star Ultra, coming out, I was curious whether they could live up to the original. However, I never imagined that this game could go as far as completely surpass the original and all of my expectations. Not only did all of the new sub-games go far beyond what I was expecting, the returning sub-games were remade so perfectly that I can honestly say that I enjoyed them more than I did in the SNES days. I can honestly say that, in my opinion, this game is now the best Kirby game of all time.
First we touch upon the aesthetic quality of the game. This game is certainly one of the most beautiful looking DS games I own. The amount of detail going into the games graphics is outstanding. The backgrounds are absolutely beautiful and extremely varied: I cant remember a single instance outside of a few of the new game modes (for obvious reasons). The characters themselves are a vast improvement from their SNES counterparts. The game truly was eye-candy for me.
In addition, the inclusion of CGI scenes certainly was a boon as well. From the moment I turned on the game and saw the opening cut-scene, I wanted to see more. Seeing all of my favorite Kirby Super Star moments in such improved cinematic quality kept the old games interested and kept me motivated to continue on and find them on (not that I needed the extra motivation XD)
The only complaints I have here is that there were a few remakes that were not the best the Kirby Series has had to offer, and a few boss themes (Dyna Blade for example) just didnt have the sense of excitement I wanted. Other than that though, all of the other songs are preserved perfectly in all of their former glory. You will hear all of your old favorites, like the Dedede theme and Revenge of Meta Knight, along with some new great songs (an old returning boss in one of the new modes has one of my new favorite themes). Ive already used the sound test on more than one occasion, so I know there are many songs that will really stick in your head.
Once again, only a few very minor complaints, which I will get to in a bit.
The game is broken down into multiple Sub-games, which each consist of 10-30 minutes of gameplay at least, and thats usually if you have played the game before and know what you are doing. In addition, each sub-game has very noticeable differences from the other sub-game. One has you running around finding treasures, while another puts you up against the clock, while a third negates your ability to copy abilities in favor of selecting abilities you find from the touch screen. This works surprisingly well when it comes to replayability, which I will discuss later.
The touch screen itself is surprisingly useful and varies according to each game. All of the essential and unique info (such as a map of the game, or a timer, etc) is listed on the bottom for conveniences, minimizing the use of a pause menu to mostly learning the abilities. It was really the best thing, and probably only thing, they could have done with the touch screen while keeping the original game intact.
Gameplay ranges well from really easy early on, to quite challenging in the last couple of games, meaning that new fans can ease into the game (with the help on a very helpful tutorial that you can choose to watch), and hardcore fans will still get an exciting playthrough.
The abilities themselves have improved in my opinion. Before, in Kirby Super Star and in most Kirby games in general, I have found that I preferred two or three abilities over all of the others and would usually stick to using those. Here though, every ability is easy to play with and effective to use. In fact, some of my least favorite old abilities from Super Star have notable boosts that make them just as powerful as the old good ones. One example that comes to mind is Bomb. It seems much faster and easier to aim than before, making it a very good weapon. In fact, there really is not any ability (well Sleep, but that doesnt count) that is not fun to use. In addition, they are versatile and unique: each ability plays differently and no two styles of combat really feel the same. This is a definite improvement and, in my opinion, really a first for the Kirby Series and I hope this sort of balance continues.
In addition, for the most part, every ability has its complete moveset from Super Star with minimal changes. However, outside of a few exceptions, I would have liked to see some new abilities or at least an extra move or two for each power. Yet, considering the balance they achieved instead, I dont think it was necessary in the end, especially considering that most abilities in other handheld Kirby games had only one or two real moves.
I do have another slight complaint about the abilities in that a couple moves were given too much of a boost from Superstar. For example, the Hammer abilitys Hammer Flip does an obscene amount of damage to bosses, making it a touch overpowered. However, these inconsistencies are few and far between (and are usually only for the rarer abilities), so this usually does not affect gameplay at all.
If thats not all, the game is also playable with a friend. A feature used only in the original Super Star, and now this, is the inclusion of a Helper. By sacrificing your current ability, you can create one of the enemy characters with that ability to fight alongside you. He has all of the moves and capabilities of a Kirby of that ability, and if he dies it does not take away from your lives, so it is essentially a free way to double your power. You can even change his ability by sacrificing another one of yours to heal him fully. In the 1P mode, the helper is controlled by a CPU, which I noticed has dramatically improved AI from Super Star. The CPU is actually useful this time around, which is necessary for a DS version of the game.
The best part of this helper feature is that one of your friends can play as him instead using a second DS. Unforunately, you can only access the first game mode without a Second Game Pak, but if you have a second one, you can pretty much play the entire game co-op. I havent had a chance to use this at all on this version, but based on the old SNES version, this adds a load of fun to the game.
Finally, as with all of the new Kirby games, there are an additional three new mini-games to play as well. One has you speed-matching cards faster than an opponent, one has you tapping enemies with a stylus that appear on screen, and the third has you clearing the path for Kirby as his races on a conveyor belt of sorts. These are fun to play for a few minutes, but the sub-games will take up far more of your time. In addition, the original two mini-games from the SNES version are unlockable as well, and every minigame can be played with friends for some quick fun.
All and all though, the gameplay is superb and is something I hope they implement in future Kirby games.
The full game itself is about 8-10 hours long to get 100%. However, each sub-game is short enough where you can easily go back to it at any time and have a fun half hour or so. In addition, each sub-game has plenty of little secrets to find out, meaning you have easily spent even longer just to find them all. Plus, you can always go back to the games with a friend playing along or you can try playing without using a helper, or even abilities at all. In other words, unlike many Kirby games imo, or even games of this genre, this has very good replayability. You will want to come back, and the modes are short enough that there is no reason not to.
As I said before, this is my favorite Kirby game of all time already. Its an obvious 10/10 in my eyes, and I would heartily recommend the game to anyone who loves the Kirby series in any way. In fact if you love this genre of gaming or even just have a DS, I would seriously consider looking into this game. Odds are, you will not be disappointed. Kirby Super Star Ultra is truly an improvement in every way.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Kirby Super Star Ultra (US, 09/22/08)
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