Kirby Super Star Ultra Review


If you were around and can remember the transition from the SNES to the Nintendo 64, you'll know that it was a bizarre time to be a gamer. The Sega Genesis was out of the picture almost entirely, the SNES was winding down and the N64 was the "it" item of the day, selling out as fast or faster than the Wii, 360 and PS3 did when they were new. But as Super Mario 64 was reinventing gaming as we knew it, Nintendo gave fans one last reason to keep their SNES's plugged into the RF switch (‘member those?): Kirby Super Star. Its funny to imagine now that one of the best games on the SNES snuck in at the 11th hour, but that's exactly what happened.

Skip ahead to the present and Nintendo has given all of us ancient gamers a little fan service. Super Star, arguably Kirby's most beloved adventure, has been crammed onto a DS cart with all kinds of new stuff added to the original package, more than earning it the ‘Ultra" found in the game's title. Before we get to it, though, I need to add a little disclaimer: It has been over 10 years since I played Kirby Super Star on the SNES, and its been even longer since I played Kirby's first adventure on the original Game Boy. A lot of the elements found in Ultra are taken from these two games, so if I misremember or mischaracterize something, its only because I've been out of Kirby's loop for longer than some gamers have even been alive. Consider this an advance mea culpa.

Anyway, because of those faded memories, I was actually turned off to the game when I began. Instead of following the Kirby games of late, Ultra presents you with a bulletin board containing all the selectable game modes rather than a world map, and right off the bat I thought, "Please… no… more…mini games…" My apprehension was made more tangible by Kirby's first (and easiest) game, Spring Breeze. Nearly all of it is lifted from Kirby's inaugural Game Boy outing, and somehow, it's actually easier than the original. From beginning to end, this first mode took about 10 minutes to finish, which just isn't enough gameplay to warrant a purchase.

Thankfully, once the first game is done, more options open up for you to try, from a pointless set of mini games (not really as bad as I expected) to new, self-contained games that ramp up the difficulty at a forgiving, but rational pace. It was at this point that I figured out there was more to Ultra than I originally thought. Even though the games can be hit-or-miss on the fun scale, the good far outweighs the bad.

In the quest for the 100% save file, you have a lot laid out for you post-Spring Breeze. You'll eventually gain access to another straight platform game with a world map, secrets and a slightly higher level of challenge; a treasure hunting game that is more puzzle than platformer; a race against King Dedede; a timed, seven level quest to bring down Meta-Knight's Halberd airship; a "collect power-ups from different planets" mode; a second run through Spring Breeze with added sequences and tougher bosses; a Cliffs Notes version of the whole game that you'll play through as Meta-Knight (the game's best boss is found in this mode); a series of arena-style challenges; a boss rush mode where you'll play as any one of the 19 "helper" enemies; and five mini games. That adds up to a lot of playtime and makes the game more than worth the price.