Everyone’s favorite pink puff, Kirby, is back on the Nintendo Switch! But if you’re expecting a proper follow-up to 2018’s Kirby Star Allies, you’ll need to temper your expectations.
Kirby Fighters 2 is instead a follow-up to the 3DS downloadable title, Kirby Fighters Deluxe, which itself was an expansion on a mini-game from the 3DS hit game Kirby: Triple Deluxe.
Like its predecessor, Kirby Fighters 2 is also a digital-only title. In fact, this is a trend the Kirby series has increasingly been moving towards. The bulk of new Kirby titles have forgone any physical release in favor of being available for digital downloads only, from Kirby’s Blowout Blast on the 3DS to the more recent Super Kirby Clash on the Switch.
In fact, Super Kirby Clash took things a step further by not only being an exclusively digital title, but also following a free-to-start model where players can download the game free of charge, but may later pay for microtransactions to unlock certain features.
Depending on your tastes, that can either be a good or bad thing. For me personally, while I enjoyed Super Kirby Clash, I’m happy to see Kirby Fighters 2 not go down the microtransactions route. The full game can be yours for $19.99 with everything included.
But is Kirby Fighters 2 any good? Well, if you played the original and liked it, you will certainly enjoy this sequel. If you haven’t played its past incarnations, just think of it as a watered-down Smash Bros. Or, essentially, a string of Kirby boss battles played back-to-back, but with more emphasis on special items and the requirement of having you commit to only one ability throughout.
There are plenty of modes available: Battle Mode, Online Mode, Local Play Mode, Story Mode, and Single-Handed Mode. All of which, other than Single-Handed Mode, offer multiplayer options.
The game has plenty of things to unlock, too. Plus, there is a leveling up system, which gives the game some much-needed structure and incentivizes you to keep playing. And altogether there are 22 playable characters which are very satisfying to unlock along the way, including King Dedede, Bandana Waddle Dee, Magolor, and Meta Knight.
The rest of the roster is filled out by Kirbys of different abilities. One ability, Wrestler, has been promoted as a new ability to this game, but honestly it plays very similarly to the old Fighter ability from previous Kirby games. Still, there’s no denying the new lucha libre-inspired costume is a nice touch.
Gameplay is identical to what you’ve come to expect from the Kirby series. If you’ve played any Kirby platformer, you know the drill. Although Kirby’s inhale and copy abilities or pushed to the side in favor of purely focusing on his abilities. Luckily it takes a Kirby Super Star approach in giving each character/ability a wide set of moves, so the mechanics don’t feel too repetitive or limited.
Stages are littered with items to shake things up too, like a minty leaf from Kirby’s Dreamland that allows you to rapidly blow puffs of minty air at your opponents, or hitching a ride aboard a Kirby Air Ride-style star and blasting enemies from appear in a move that is reminiscent of Smash Bros. Brawl.
Speaking of the stages, they are absolutely beautiful in Kirby Fighters 2. Longtime Kirby fans will appreciate the endless flow of references and homages to previous Kirby games. Each stage revisits levels from previous Kirby games, flawlessly replicating and enhances the varied styles from Kirby’s catalogue, including Kirby’s Dreamland 3 and even Planet Robobot.
The soundtrack was equally nostalgic. If you like Kirby music (and who doesn’t?), you’ll feel right at home here. Online play was pretty smooth as well during my time with the game. Everything worked as it should, moving along at a brisk pace with crisp graphics.
So what’s not too love? Well, despite all the attractive bells and whistles, the game is still a mini-game expansion, and it feels like one. My initial impression was very positive, as I loved seeing each new stage and unlocking new characters and abilities.
However, things began to wear thin after several hours with the game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a lot of fun – but it definitely pales in comparison to meatier fighting games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Still, you can’t pay a mere 20 bucks and go in expecting a Smash Bros. Ultimate experience. You have to go in knowing what this game is, and for what it is, it is perfectly fine. It’s a lighthearted but fun Kirby-themed fighter that encourages couch co-op with gameplay that revolves around its multiplayer options.
I would obviously prefer another full-fledged, mainline Kirby title in the vein of Star Allies, but for what it is Kirby Fighters 2 offers a lot of bang for your buck. Especially if you’re a Kirby fan or if you have younger or more casual gamers in your family. For that, it’s worth the price of entry.
However, for anyone wanting something with a little more depth, you’d probably be better off with other fighters on the Switch. That could change if Nintendo and HAL Laboratory offer free DLC for Kirby Fighters 2 in the future. More characters like Rick, Kine, Coo, Susie, Adeleine, and/or Ribbon would go a long way in fleshing the game out further and making it feel bigger.
Kirby Fighters 2 for Nintendo Switch – Score: 7/10
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