Kirby Battle Royale 3DS Review

Over recent years it seems Kirby has been sucking and blowing away from his traditional platform games and expanding into the space of spin-offs. The issue with this is that Kirby’s modern spin-off titles haven’t exactly been up to the same quality we have seen when he’s floating and jumping in his 2D platform games. Kirby Battle Royale is Kirby’s third game this year (it is the 25th anniversary of Kirby), with other titles, Kirby’s Blowout Blast and Team Kirby Clash Deluxe having smaller releases on the eShop, but aren’t exactly original titles, being expansions to mini games featured in last year’s Kirby: Planet Robobot. Kirby Battle Royale is a brand new, physical and digitally released, full priced game that has Kirby once again appearing in a spin-off that pits blobo-a-blobo in various arena mini games, but I can’t help but feel that this should have been one of Nintendo’s smaller experimental eShop titles, rather than a full title to fill up some 3DS shelf space in a store.

There is a story mode here that initially acts as a tutorial to learn the various mini games, but begins to change things up with modifications to these bitesize games, as players make their way through the five leagues. It’s based around a tournament set up by King Dedede, with a prize of a giant cake that you can stuff yourself with. Kirby and his buddy, Waddle Dee, enter the tournament, but this is no ordinary tournament, as King Dedede has decided to activate his cloning machine to copy Kirby into various colours, so that Kirby can finally be defeated… by himself in the game’s 10 mini games. There isn’t anything really worth noting about the story, it’s all here to give some light narrative to a simple tournament structure that players work their way through to see all the game’s maps and modifiers available for the short few hours it offers.

The task in the story mode is straightforward; win events, fill up a metre to earn enough to take on the league challenge, beat that and then be promoted to the next league, where more twists and handicaps await the player. The issue is, once you’ve experienced the few games on offer, then you have seen the bulk of Kirby Battle Royale. It’s simply a rather unflattering Kirby licensed game that has a big focus on multiplayer with that spice of Kirby mechanics thrown in to give itself some identity. The campaign is fairly easy to beat, thanks to the AI lacking much challenge, because it does silly things or can’t avoid some of the weapon attacks well, so all that is left to sustain the game is its multiplayer.

Each of the ten mini games support up to four players in either single man or teams of two going at each other for victory. These mini games include stuff like standard battle arena, Apple Scrample (knock down and collect apples and take them back to base), Coin Clash (collect coins while beating up other people to get their coins, but avoiding the ghost that saps them), Ore Express (collect random ore and throw them into the train that drives by to claim points), and Flag Ball (2D take on ball-based scoring game where players need to get the ball to their coloured flag, but the flag can also be picked up as well). This just demonstrates a few of the games, and while each one is different enough, it doesn’t feel that enough is included, even with their slight map changes. I understand that the option to have Kirby in his unique forms – Sword Kirby, Bomb Kirby, Spear Kirby, Fighter Kirby, Ninja Kirby are just small sample available – is a neat twist, but it isn’t enough to fight against the limited replay value this game offers, especially more so if you cannot find anyone to play with.

Finding someone to play locally isn’t a problem, as download play is available so that you only need one copy of the game to play with three friends. There is a catch, however, as only five of the 10 games can be available at one time, as the game splits them into two groups before perform the download sharing, probably to keep the size of data transmitted between devices relative small. Download play users also have another limitation on the access to the various Kirby forms, but there is enough here that it gives players an example of how the game is. Online play forms up the other half of the multiplayer, but activity online seems scarce, taking a few minutes to start a game, which is warning signs for the longevity of Kirby Battle Royale‘s online community. When in a game, connections seem playable. This certainly isn’t the greatest netcode, as I’ve had lag creep into my limited amount of online play, but it isn’t awful, just somewhere in the middle.

With the 3DS now seemingly coming up to its last year or so of life, it seems the concept of 3D has been lost more with each new game. Pokemon Ultra Sun/Moon has no 3D implementation, and Kirby Battle Royale is another game that is lacking this hardware feature. Apart from that, Kirby Battle Royale is packed with colourful visuals and a graphics style that is aesthetically please, while also keeping a look that is distinctively Kirby. Music is full on Kirby as well, so fans can hum to the well-known tunes.

After the year Nintendo has had, Kirby Battle Royale arrives on 3DS with a feeling that it is here to be the Christmas stocking filler, although an expensive one for what is included in the game. What is here is essentially a mini-game collection coated in a Kirby presentation. It’s a fun game, especially when you get four players together and can experience the game at its full potential, but Nintendo has been delivering amazing quality this year, even on the 3DS, but this is a chip in their fantastic release schedule. Kirby Battle Royale is lacking any will to innovate. It’s happy to be playing it safe and be a standard multiplayer game that will loose its replay value fast, and with the weak single player challenge that becomes repetitive before it ends, the game does not offer much to the huge 3DS library available other than being a average bag of multiplayer mayhem.

5 out of 10
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