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Wednesday 29/03/2017: Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink

May 23, 2016

Kirby Super Star (Part 2)

Hello and welcome back to this review! There’s only two (technically three) sub-games to cover for this review. There’s a whole bunch still to say, so let’s jump right into it!

Revenge of Meta Knight


Meta Knight, aboard his mighty ship the Halberd, has decided to launch an assault on Dream Land! Kirby sets out to stop him, no matter the cost! Kirby lands on the Halberd with the Warp Star and runs through the main deck, eventually reaching an open area where Meta Knight’s mooks unleash a large robotic lobster. Of course, Kirby can try to fight it, but the Halberd takes off before the lobster can be defeated, and Kirby will be thrown out of the Halberd by the strong gust.

Like other games in this collection, Revenge of Meta Knight tweaks a few conventions to give the player a unique experience. First off, the levels are timed, so you just can’t waste your time. Run, run, run through a level, run like your life depends on it. Second, the game is divided into levels, but much like Spring Breeze you cannot go back to a previous level; and levels are separated by quick cutscenes showing the large world and what happens on it. However, the best addition to the game is the underling talk.

"WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!"
"Calm down!"
"I'll try... WE'RE ALL GONNA
DIE!"
See, this game may be relatively short, but it uses a pretty cool idea: Sometimes the hub at the bottom of the screen will be replaced by the discussion between MetaKnight’s crewmen, the… Meta Knights. On one hand, they are indubitably loyal to their leader. On the other, they are terrified of Kirby. Thankfully, they’re a pretty large gang, and they have the resources to overcome this opponent. Thus, they start off pretty confident in this fight.

And they're almost proud of it.
Kirby lands in a forest area that then goes into an underwater cave, including an auto-scrolling section with bomb blocks and walls in the way. You’ll quickly notice that this game is more difficult than the previous straightforward platformer adventures in this collection. At the end of this level, Kirby fights Whispy Woods and then a stronger version of it, Twin Woods (it’s two Whispys sharing a life bar, just in case you were bored with the lack of challenge against a single Whispy). Kirby then gets to the Warp Star and tries to board the Halberd again, but gets blasted off. He runs through a second level, at the end of which he finds Dyna Blade and uses her to fly onto the flying warship. However, Meta Knight’s crew shoots Dyna Blade down. What? You jerks wounded her? That’s a dick move! I mean, I know I did it earlier, but…. But… But…… That’s still a dick move!

Make It Attack Its Own Weak Spot. That shouldn't be
a strategy heroes use against villains.
Kirby makes his way through the Halberd, and eventually reaches one of the ship’s main weapons: The Main Cannon #2, also known as the Combo Cannon. He defeats it and moves forward, prompting Meta Knight’s mooks to start to lose hope. Their troubles aren’t over, as Kirby’s next stop is the right wing, where he does considerable damage to the ship. Annoyed, the Meta Knights unleash Heavy Lobster at Kirby again, and Kirby eventually defeats it (which is not simple as it has a tendency to use attacks that make Kirby lose his current copy ability). Kirby then finds himself under the ship, where he does even more damage. To say the crew panics would be an understatement.

Wait, is the skull.... crying??

Up there! Right above you!
After a brief run under the ship, Kirby finds the reactor; it’s impervious to all of his attacks, but it isn’t impervious to a laser weapon used in the very same room to try and defeat Kirby. Ah, gotta love that oversight from villains. They give us something that only they can destroy, and provide us with exactly the thing they own that allows us to destroy it. Isn’t that right, giant-Bowser-with-a-switch-at-the-end-of-a-long-hall-over-a-lake-of-lava-that-instantly-makes-you-lose-the-fight? With the reactor destroyed, the Meta Knights decide to gang up to stop Kirby at all costs, but Kirby defeats them, so the crew abandons ship, leaving Meta Knight on his own. The mooks’ dialogue boxes become sadder and sadder, too, like we’re actually killing… characters with personalities…. Goddammit, the moral of No More Heroes is gonna follow me forever! Finally, Kirby reaches Meta Knight. Once again, the knight wants to make this a duel between swordsmen, and you can refuse this offer though it means you’ll need to be faster at beating Meta Knight.


When Kirby’s rival is defeated, there’s only 60 seconds left to the timer. Kirby is blasted on a Wheelie and drives off, while Meta Knight tries desperately to damage Kirby and prevent him from escaping. I imagine him, saying, “If I’m going down with this ship, SO ARE YOU!” Thankfully, some luck and some skills let Kirby escape, and he lands on a platform from which he sees the Halberd falling into the ocean and slowly sinking. The end… of this sub-game.

Ah, I just love the smell of destroyed airships in the
sunset.
A pretty difficult sub-game, but I enjoy it. Many parts are tricky, and some bosses are really tough, but it’s a mode that I enjoyed. It can also be called a day in the limelight for Meta Knight and his crew, since it’s implied that Meta Knight was trying to conquer Dream Land to rule it as some sort of benevolent dictatorship (contrary to Dedede’s “feed me or I’ll steal all your food” dictatorship), and it’s shown he treats his crew like family. Said crew has also hidden many stashes of food around, including Maxim Tomatoes, explaining why Kirby can find them and refill his health as he thoroughly demolishes the Halberd room by room. All in all, a solid sub-game that you’ll definitely enjoy. Now, let’s move on to the final one…

Milky Way Wishes


The longest sub-game in this collection, Milky Way Wishes has a complete story and changes completely the way copy abilities work. See, this time around Kirby is unable to gain copy abilities from enemies; instead, he has full access to every single ability in the game, at any moment, through the Start menu or by pressing X in-game and picking an ability with Left or Right (this is called Copy Essence Deluxe). The problem is that Kirby needs to find all 19 Copy Abilities in the levels he visits, on trophies similar to those he could take abilities from in every other sub-game of this collection.

I've never seen you before, who the heck are you
to give orders to Kirby like this?
The sun and the moon are fighting, and this duel between giants might well be the end of Dream Land! Hey you two, are we gonna have to settle this in a board game like they did for Mario Party 6? A little jester creature called Marx heads out to find Kirby and asks him to end this feud, by finding the comet known as Galactic Nova and ask its help. However, in order to find Nova, Kirby needs to gather a lot of power from the nearby planets; he does this by collecting the stars on them. Oooh, a cosmic-level story? I like where this is going.

Thus, Kirby can explore all the planets around his solar system; Floria, Aquarius, Skyhigh, Hotbeat, Cavius, Mecheye and Halfmoon, and even a tiny planet on the map that hides one ability. Every level can be completed with normal Kirby, but some areas are closed off until you get an ability that lets you open the way. Of course, you’re invited to revisit all the worlds to find the remaining abilities. Every world includes a fight with a boss seen in a previous sub-game, and sometimes it also includes a mini-boss bonanza. When all these levels are beaten, we access the final level: Nova itself.

I like the stoner look. More Nintendo characters should have it.

Awww, it had the :3 face before the :3 face was a thing!

After gathering all seven Stars, Kirby finds Nova and is about to wish for the Sun and the Moon to stop fighting… but then Marx comes the Hell out of nowhere, bumps Kirby away and wishes for domination over Planet Popstar. Ack, I’ve been manipulated by a jester!


….AGAIN!

Marx happens to be the one who caused the Sun and the Moon to fight, and the one who sent Kirby on this quest, all so he could gain immense power from Galactic Nova. Well that’s just great. I could say I haven’t seen it coming, but then again I wouldn’t have seen it coming if suddenly Mario, Link, Samus, DK and Pikachu had come to Kirby’s help as a group called the Nintenvengers. So that twist with Marx comes pretty much out of nowhere; Even Dimentio’s twist was heavily hinted at.

Marx, now almighty, tosses Galactic Nova into Planet Popstar, and Kirby goes inside Nova to stop its motor. Sadly, it’s not enough, as the godlike being continues on its course, and so the Sun and the Moon decide to help each other and push it away from Planet Popstar. Now Kirby has to battle Marx, in the toughest fight in the whole game! You’ll notice that, outside of a few differences, Marx has attacks that feel a lot like Tabuu’s in Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s Subspace Emissary, which makes me thing that Masahiro Sakurai has drawn inspiration for the Subspace Emissary’s final boss from the final bosses of his Kirby series. Drawn inspiration from, or plagiarized himself? You make the call!

Marx is finally defeated, and as a result he crashes into Galactic Nova, destroying it. Planet Popstar has been saved, until the next attack from an interdimensional cosmic monster or a megalomaniacal citizen. Kirby decides to take some time off and sleep through the next day. Unless it was actually a dream like the infamous ending to the American Super Mario Bros 2… oh well, whatever. Completing this mode unlocks…

I really liked this one, definitely ranks up there among my favorite modes of Kirby Super Star. While the plot itself is nothing to write home about, the idea is at least interesting (a tiny citizen of Dream Land wanting more power, and of course Galactic Nova, who is implied not to be the only one - in fact, odds are the people at HAL Laboratory might bring back that part of the Kirby mythos soon... The new gameplay is neat, although it makes the first few minutes of the game pretty difficult, all while making the game almost ridiculously easy when you've found all 19 copy abilities in the levels. All in all, a strong mode.

The Arena


Whatever you do, do NOT get the Sleep ability!
This is the usual Boss Rush mode, the one you see in just about every Kirby game. However, unlike previous Boss Rush modes, you are given a few options to help you defeat the 19 bosses of this game. To help you on this quest – undoubtedly the hardest mode available here – you have access to all the copy abilities AND a Helper, which can prove vital in certain fights. In the resting area between two bosses, you get to see which boss is next, so you can plan your strategy ahead; and if you’re low on health, there are five Maxim Tomatoes having from the tree. Plus, between two bosses there’s always two ability trophies nearby to let Kirby gear up. I know this is the third time I’m making a comparison to the same game, but this feels like the Boss Battles mode or the All-Star mode of the Smash series. The order of the 18 first bosses is random, but it includes the major bosses from every sub-game as well as a few collections of mid-bosses (and inexplicably a zero-effort battle against a Waddle Dee, but I’m not complaining!), and the 19th boss will always be Marx. Beating this mode unlocks a Sound Test that includes all the music and sounds in the game.

Well, that seems to cover everything!

Final Thoughts

Hey, wait! This isn’t a sub-game, those are my last words about the whole game! Ignore this sub-header. So, what do I think of this collection of games?

It. Is. Awesome. I completely understand why this is considered one of the best Kirby games ever made. Of course, you need to complete a game in order to unlock another, but the games have a steady increase in difficulty, starting with the simplistic Spring Breeze, ending with Milky Way Wishes. There’s a neat selection of abilities here, adding up to 19 (not counting the limited-use ones, like Paint, Cook, Mike or Crash), and just as many potential Helpers in your quests. Simply changing the idea behind every sub-game did wonders, as each of them feels unique. None of these games are too long, though some may seem a bit short (you can probably go through Spring Breeze in less than 10 minutes, and Gourmet Race is over in barely over 3 minutes). The longest two are, without a doubt, Milky Way Wishes and The Great Cave Offensive; the former, because you need to complete some levels multiple times in order to find some abilities, which themselves require other abilities to retrieve. And the latter because you can beat the game in about 20 minutes if you don’t care about the treasure chests, but it can take a couple hours to find everything (and, speaking from experience, I can tell you that some treasure chests here are in the worst places possible!). Even with a strategy guide, it’s a tough side-quest. Although, the nods to other video game series are a neat touch. Hey, Final Fantasy heroes? I heard you needed some orichalcum? I just found some under Dream Land. Don’t ask.

As I mentioned, every sub-game has a unique feel; the graphics don’t actually change all that much from a sub-game to another, and yet every sub-game looks gorgeous. The music is also really awesome. Even better is the creativity of the many bosses encountered on these adventures; they range from the small but intelligent Meta Knight to the impressive Dyna Blade, passing by the Halberd’s main cannons (and its reactor), King Dedede, Wham Bam Rock and, of course, the final battle against Marx. However, Megaton Punch and Samurai Kirby, while fun, feel superfluous. They don’t add much to the collection, although to truly beat this game you need to complete both with flying colors. (Do note that, of the two, I prefer Megaton Punch.)

Like the Animal Friends before them, the Helpers are a unique mechanic to play around with Kirby’s Copy Abilities. It’s like every game tries something new with those, am I right? The Helpers are distinguishable from their enemy counterparts and can often be of great help against some enemies and bosses. However, when controlled by an AI, the situation makes them go from brilliant to dumb as rocks. It all depends on the current opponent and what it can do. Your Helper will be ultra-useful against, say, Chameleo Arm (who can disappear) and other bosses who mostly stay on land, but anything that spends considerable time in the air will screw them over (like, again, Wham Bam Rock, or good ol’ Kracko). Hell, you need to have the Helper be used by a second player in order to complete certain puzzles in the Great Cave Offensive. My final issue with the game is that a Game Over is almost the same as losing a life; merely a slap on the wrist.

So, not counting Megaton Punch and Samurai Kirby, do I have a quick thing to say about each sub-game?
-Spring Breeze: Short, but that was the point. Still, why did they have to cut a whole level and a boss from Kirby’s Dream Land?
-Dyna Blade: Basic, but enjoyable.
-Gourmet Race: Challenging, because King Dedede’s AI is way too fast. But it’s not impossible to win, if you practice a lot. My least favorite sub-game.
-The Great Cave Offensive: This one plays up the puzzle aspect of the series, moreso than Milky Way Wishes. I just wished some parts of it weren’t so grating! How often have I had to defeat that Bonkers in the upper floors of the Castle to try and access that one stupid chest in the castle’s basement?
-Revenge of Meta Knight: The best “mooks as characters” study one could ever do in a 2D platformer, showing the personalities of those enemies you usually defeat without a second thought, and expanding on Meta Knight’s motivations and attitude. I mean, such studies are often done in RPGs (the Paper Mario series comes to mind, with its Goomba village, its Koopa village, etc.), but it’s still a rare occurrence in a platform game.
-Milky Way Wishes: I love the concept of Galactic Nova, that thing looks just awesome. I’m a bit less of a fan of Marx as a villain, though part of that could be blamed on the very limited story of this mode, which tried to cram all the info in the intro and before the final few battles. It’s still my favorite mode in the game, with its unique take on copy abilities (and I might like to see this concept in a full game someday), but like with everything else, I know that I can enjoy it despite its flaws.
-The Arena: The toughest mode, for damn good reason. It took me 30 tries, but I managed to beat it once, with a combination of strategy and luck (Gotta use it when I have it!). It is more merciful than most boss endurance modes in the previous Kirby titles, though, so there’s that.

Well, that covers everything. All in all, Kirby Super Star is an amazing game and if you haven’t played it, you really should.

Alright, that’s five down, a last one to go from Kirby’s Dream Collection. I could be tempted to do that last one next Friday, but I think I will go for a video game movie. Let’s see, I had Ender’s Game but that one can wait, I have Max Payne but it seems too generic... I can’t review TRON: Legacy as long as I haven’t seen the original TRON… Oh, I know! Let’s go with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I’ll probably regret it, but who cares. A bad adaptation can’t hurt me, right?