Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kirby Super Star Ultra (DS) Review

Something must be wrong with me. I usually don't ever have two brand-new reviews in two days' time. While I head to the infirmary, you take a look at my newest review for Kirby Super Star Ultra for the Nintendo DS.

Kirby Super Star: Right Back At Ya'

In 1996, the adorable but deadly pink puff known as Kirby arrived from a warp star and rocketed onto the Super Nintendo. For many fans, Kirby Super Star, to this day, is the ultimate showing starring the cast and crew of the Kirby series, and twelve years later it's getting a second coming-out party with Kirby Super Star Ultra for the Nintendo DS. Boasting seven old and four new stand-alone miniature adventures, a new graphical overhaul, and some new features, is Kirby Super Star Ultra the definitive Kirby title, or does it just simply suck?

There's three separate save files to choose from each giving more than one member of the family or circle of friends a chance to begin their own data. Kirby Super Star was and still is very different from every other mainline Kirby title. Instead of being one grand adventure, Super Star is made up of several individual games with their own simple storyline and basic premise. To start off, there's just a bare selection of games to choose from the main "corkboard" menu, but eventually you'll have access to all eleven main games. Once you complete one game or combination of games, another one is then unlocked. Each of these games are rather short. Some of which will last a measly 10-15 minutes while another can last 2-3 hours your first run through. This translates much better to a handheld than the old console version as it promotes the "pick up and play" aspect that are the trademark of portables.

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Spring Breeze is a remake of Kirby's debut in Kirby's Dream Land.

The games are all unique in the fact that they showcase different levels and subtle tweaks to the formula, but they all share the same core gameplay mechanics that Kirby fanatics and casual fans alike can enjoy. Kirby is an interesting character. Not only can he float in the air for an unlimited amount of time, but he can also suck up enemies, eat them faster than Kirstie Alley gobbling up a live turkey, and gain their ability which he can only hold one at a time. These powers are numerous and have different ranges and benefits from the pulsating Beam ability to the Stone ability where Kirby temporarily transforms into a giant stone brick which pounds the ground beneath him. Some powers have secondary uses, too. If there's a switch that needs hitting on the opposite of the wall, Kirby can use the Yo-Yo power to swing the toy through the wall, effectively making contact with the switch. A solitary feature found in Kirby Super Star and used in no other past or present Kirby title is the aid of helpers. When Kirby holds an ability, you can press the X button to give up the ability and have it transform into a helper (only one at a time). Kirby and the helper have their own life bars displayed in the lower screen, and they can share health items like Maxim Tomatoes and miscellaneous food. The only problem with this is that even if both partners have full health, they'll still do the one second animations to share food. This gets annoying as all it does is unnecessarily slow down the game. When a helper is summoned, either the CPU or a nearby friend using wireless play will step in to assist Kirby. However, your friend will have to look off your screen while controlling the helper from his own DS. Furthermore, the old mini-games such as Samurai Kirby and new touch-screen mini-games can also be played either against the computer or with a friend.

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The colors in this game are bright and vibrant.
Really sharp, really nice.

The main course of the Kirby Super Star Ultra meal, of course, are the eleven games-- again, 7 return and 4 are brand spanking new. Veterans of these games may feel that there's nothing new, but they'd be surely mistaken. Not only have the graphics been improved to Squeak Squad standards, but additionally there's an impressive amount of 3D full-motion video sequences that pop up during the beginning, intermissions, and end of each game to flesh out some simple story. Parts of these tales interweave with other games giving the player a full experience overall. The first game available is Spring Breeze which is essentially a remake of the very first Kirby title, Kirby's Dream Land, which premiered on the original Game Boy. This was old-school when Kirby was portrayed as a gray ball of fluff instead of the uber-cute pink Kirby we all know and love... and want to fondle. What?! Moving on. Dyna Blade is a slightly larger game which took a half hour for me to full complete my first run. This differs from Spring Breeze at it has more expansive levels, an overworld map, and two secret levels to discover. If exploring levels with Kirby just isn't what you're currently in the mood for, you can step up and try your luck at the Gourmet Race. This is a series of three races against King Dedede-- who I find much cuter than Kirby (I'm man enough to say it!)-- as you take shortcuts, gather food, and attempt to outrace one another. The opponent with the most points at the end of the three rounds from collecting food and winning races wins.

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The Gourmet Race has two modes:
Grand Prix and Time Attack.

Two of my favorite games from Super Star Ultra are treasure hunts: The Great Cave Offensive and Milky Way Wishes. First, The Great Cave Offensive is more a misnomer than anything. There's four huge areas all interconnected by mine cart segments. Now the first area is definitely a cave setting, but the other three are definitely too "outside" to be considered caverns. Each area is completely non-linear and asks the player to attempt to find all sixty of the treasures hidden in the mode to fully complete it. At the exit of each area, there's a boss encounter. Now one can simply breeze through the "cave" in 15-20 minutes without collecting everything, but to get a larger completion percentage, all the booty must be found-- and this booty is far from ghetto. Likewise, Milky Way Wishes is more of a combination of Dyna Blade and The Great Cave Offensive. Like Dyna Blade, you're on a map where you can choose where to go, except this time you're in space choosing planets to venture to. Similar to The Great Cave, the side goal is to find all 19 lost Kirby powers hidden on each planet. For the most part, Kirby cannot suck up enemies to inherit their power. Instead, he has to find these powers to unlock them. These can be selected from the touch screen at any time. Restore the wishes of all the planets to receive the ability to make that Milky Way Wish.... or maybe not.... The rest of the games in the Super Star Ultra collection have Kirby infiltrating Meta Knight's ship, the Halberd, taking on 19 bosses with a little breather between each match in The Arena, and games that will allow you to play as some other special characters, too.

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All-new FMV sequences add more to the non-existent
story of the original Super Star.

As previously mentioned, the graphics got a pretty big upgrade. They stay true to the look and feel of the original Super Star, and at the same time they're quite similar to the recent DS installments. Overall, the look of the game is colorful and generally pleasing to look at. Then again, I'm an absolute sucker for 2D sprites and art. The sound effects and music are nice and quaint as well. Kirby veterans will instantly recognize many themes from the series as well as completely new compositions which stand up well to the originals.

Kirby Super Star Ultra is a fantastic package that's full of value and fun. The collection of the original seven games combined with the four all-new adventures, old and new mini-games, upgraded graphics, light use of the touch screen, unlockable goodies, FMV, and a respectable 10-15 hours to fully complete the game are all well worth the asking price. Kirby fans and younger or less experienced gamers will enjoy this, but everyone else might feel that the majority of content in this package is too easy to come back to. Also, there's those obnoxious Kirby haters to contend with, too. How can people be so cruel? Then again, if you can't beat 'em, eat 'em.

[SuperPhillip Says]

Story: Multiple quick tales told through each individual game. Some link together while others are stand-alone entries.

Graphics: This game is quite pretty. I love the colorful worlds and impressive sprites.

Gameplay: Puff, suck, and blow. And let's talk about Kirby, too. The classic Kirby action with the unique mechanic of calling upon helpers.

Sound: Cute and quaint themes which may be too sickening and sweet for some.

Replay Value: 10-15 hours, but playing with a friend who also has a DS is a fantastic alternative to shelving the entire collection after completion.

Overall: 8.5/10

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