September 24, 2020
If your favourite character to play in Super Smash Bros is Kirby, well, do I have some good news for you. Kirby Fighters 2 is going to scratch that very specific itch, because while it plays like Smash, pretty much every player character is Kirby wearing a different hat. It’s a very cute and colourful concept, but whether it holds up after a few hours of play is another matter entirely.
The original Kirby Fighters was packed in as an additional mode in Kirby: Triple Deluxe on Nintendo 3DS and not a stand alone game. So it came as a surprise to a lot of people when the new game dropped on Nintendo Switch.
Giving Kirby Some Angry Eyebrows
The actual fighting in Kirby Fighters 2 is like a watered down version of the combat in Super Smash Bros. At first glance, the simplification doesn’t feel like it’s going to have too big an effect on the experience as a whole, but the longer you play the more noticeable it becomes.
Each stage in the game is flat with a few floating platforms, just like something you would expect to see in Smash. Obviously though, every stage is from a Kirby game. There are 17 different Kirby variations to choose from, but you only start with three and the rest have to be unlocked as you go. Each Kirby fights using a different weapon, but almost all of them control exactly the same. They each have a neutral attack, directional attacks, air attacks, a block and (of course) the ability to shove enemies into your mouth. While it sounds like a lot, when put into practice it just doesn’t have the same complexity that Smash Brothers has.
The main difference gameplay-wise between Kirby Fighters 2 and Smash is that there are no stage edges—you defeat an opponent by bringing their health to zero. Then, if you’re playing against more than one opponent, they can return as a ghost and be revived. It’s an interesting idea, but I found that rounds ended so quickly that I barely ever saw this happen.
This is the game’s main issue. Battles in Kirby Fighters routinely lasted little longer than two minutes, with no stocks meaning that rounds are over once the enemies are KO-d. It felt like I spent more time waiting in loading screens between stages than I did actually fighting. Anytime I played for longer than an hour or so, I felt myself sinking into the couch and zoning off. Occasionally mashing buttons, but mostly just napping while I waited for the game to load.
I spent most of my time with Kirby Fighters 2 playing through the story mode. It is essentially a gauntlet, you and a friend climb up a tower to fight Kirby’s classic enemies King Deedeedee and Meta Knight up the top. Every ten or so levels there is a boss to fight, but every stage in between is one of the classic Smash Bros stages. Every fight, barring the boss fights shared the issues I mentioned early, lasting barely over two minutes. With an XP bar, a loading screen, and then a screen where you can pick a new buff, the time you spend between matches is much longer than the actual fights. There’s so much that happens in between that it takes twice as long as it should to reach the next boss.
The other main modes are Battle and Online Mode. I’m lumping them in together because they are both essentially the same. You and a friend (or an NPC) battle it off in a short match, like in Smash you’re able to toggle a good number of settings before starting: turning off items or hazards and other things in that vein. Unfortunately, there is no option to add additional stocks, so the same issue as always is still present. Matches are so quick! The only time I was able to have a match longer than a few minutes was when I was playing with NPCs on the highest difficulty, even then, it was still over in a flash.
In the end though the real pitfall of Kirby Fighters 2 is that there isn’t much reason to get it over Smash. This game was very clearly made to be a casual party experience, but Smash can fit that bill just as well if not better. While the competitive scene for Super Smash Bros can be wild, it can just as easily be enjoyed by a group of friends in the same way Kirby Fighters 2 is designed to be, but with a wealth more content and customisation. Hell, if you just want to play this game because you really like Kirby, he’s already in Smash as well. While the idea of playing as a bunch of Kirby’s in different hats is really cute, the second there are more than two on screen it gets disorientating and confusing in a way that I’ve found Smash never has.
- Art direction you would expect from a Kirby game
- Easy to grasp combat
- Very little depth
- Too much time spent in menus
- Very short stages with no way to adjust them
Overall, Kirby Fighters 2 is perfectly serviceable. The art style is cute and it has that classic Nintendo polish, but it is hard to deny that the game is little more than a watered down version of Super Smash Bros. With very short rounds and combat that slowly grows stale as it is easy to master within a few hours, the game might be fun for a few rounds at parties, but it has none of the staying power that its bigger Smash Brother can boast.