Of all Nintendo’s characters, Kirby is the most divisive. Mario, bless his blue dungarees, could appear in a thousand rubbish spin-offs and we’d still love him. Diddy Kong, on the other hand, could star in a Mario Galaxy-beater but we’d still volunteer him for the next episode of Will It Blend? without hesitation. When it comes to Kirby, questionable releases such as Air Ride and Squeak Squad have tainted the mascot’s image enough to turn some fans against the pink puffball.
So what better way to rekindle the fire of Kirby’s past glories than to remake one of his better games and tag an ‘Ultra’ on the end? Spanning eight modes (including two designed specifically for the DS) and six ‘it just wouldn’t be a DS game without them’ minigames, Super Star Ultra is a collection of platforming, shooting and card-based challenges. It’s a basic 2D side-scroller for the most part – as usual, Kirby can steal his enemies’ powers by sucking them into his oversized gob. And aside from the odd cutscene or health warning we barely noticed anything worthwhile on the bottom screen. Those battle updates may look like a PC’s error messages, but that’s okay – Kirby’s up against a computer virus, you see. Dream Land is home to some impressive enemies, so it’s a good job you’ve got company. As well as the titular windbag, King Dedede and Meta Knight are playable. All that time spent on Brawl should pay off.
The new minigames do use the stylus, but the variety never stretches beyond tapping Cards/enemies/symbols/the sprite of your choice. The wireless capabilities fare better than the rudimentary touch screen features. Our Kirb’s able to coax certain foes over to his side, which can be controlled by the CPU or a second player via local network. Up to four people can take part, thanks to download play support. With all this, plus with the aesthetic updates you’d associate with a remake, and extra challenges and the redesigned movies, Ultra should remind the anti-Kirby crowd why he was ever popular. It’s no Power Paintbrush, but after the disappointing Squeak Squad Kirby owes us another good game...
Aug 19, 2008