Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Kirby Battle Royale (3DS) Review

It's a special day for me, and no, it's not just because I'm reviewing a new Kirby game on SuperPhillip Central. Today is my birthday, and I've been celebrating with both friends and family all week long. Thankfully, I'm back to posting some on SuperPhillip Central, so let's dive in with Kirby's latest, Kirby Battle Royale!

Big-time fun, but expect a small grab bag of content

Kirby has always had a strong presence on Nintendo's handheld systems. It's been as true a statement ever since the little puffball premiered on the original Game Boy with Kirby's Dream Land. From there, both mainline adventures, experimental spin-offs, and more have made their way to Nintendo's lineup of handheld devices, from the Game Boy and Game Boy Color to the Nintendo DS and now Nintendo 3DS.

Kirby's been especially busy with games on the 3DS. He has built quite a lineup for Nintendo's stereoscopic wonder, offering two big, traditional adventures in the form of Kirby Triple Deluxe and Kirby Planet Robobot, as well as several spin-offs in downloadable form like Team Kirby Clash Deluxe and Kirby's Blowout Blast. Now, Kirby is making his curtain call with one (as far as we know) final Nintendo 3DS entry, and it's in a type of game that the pink puffball doesn't spend a lot of time in: a multiplayer one. Kirby Battle Royale focuses most importantly on the local and online multiplayer front as opposed to the single player content the series is known for. Is this a solid step for Kirby, or is this battle royale a bust?

King Dedede with a cloning device? That can't be good.
While Kirby Battle Royale's primary focus is on multiplayer, that isn't to say that there isn't anything for those who want to play by themselves with some single-player content to invest in. The main story mode, Dedede's Cake Royale, puts you as Kirby and occasional AI teammate Bandanna Waddle Dee through a series of events, showcasing all ten battle events within Kirby Battle Royale. Starting off in the Beginner Cup, you face easy opponents, and the objective here is to earn enough points through scoring first place on each event to fill a progression meter. Once that is full, you get the right of taking on the qualifier round. Win that round, and you move on to the next cup. Beat all the cups and you win Dedede's Cake Royale.

As each cup goes on, new events are introduced, opponent AI grows stronger, and conditions per match change to make it harder on you (such as limiting what ability you can use, for instance) -- though Dedede's Cake Royale never becomes too taxing to beat in its 3-5 hour campaign. The biggest worry here is some repetition and a bit of a grind in playing the same events over and over again with some small changes.

Kirby practices to one day star in his own Legend of Zelda entry.
Completing Dedede's Cake Royale unlocks three new playable characters in addition to the all of the Kirby abilities that players can choose from. As matches are played, you gain currency to spend on a myriad of rewards in the collection shop, such as new abilities to play as, headgear to wear both online and off (each character or ability has four to choose from), special boost orbs that help out mid-round, and music to listen to in the options menu.

Currency is earned not just from the previously mentioned means of finishing and winning matches, but also through satisfying given medal conditions, of which there are 60 total, serving way more than just mere achievements. These range from event-specific tasks like KO-ing all enemies simultaneously in a Battle Royale fight, to never getting caught by a ghost in Coin Clash. A notable currency award is rewarded for each medal collected, making for some easy means to purchase new goodies in the collection menu.

The abilities in Kirby Battle Royale are plentiful with 16 in all. The amount of attacks with each isn't as wide as a more modern Kirby game like Return to Dream Land, Triple Deluxe, or Planet Robobot, but there is a good array of attacks to be found with each ability, whether the Doctor ability's pill-tossing, the Spear ability's flurry of spear strikes, or the Ice ability's freezing properties. It's common to stick with a favorite or two, but Battle Royale does encourage using different abilities depending on the battle event and circumstances. For instance, Whip Kirby is terrific for grabbing up rockets to toss into cannons in the Robo Bonkers event.

Robo Bonkers decides to bring down his signature weapon for some Hammer Time.
The ten battle types in Kirby Battle Royale run the gamut from free-for-all contests to 2-on-2 skirmishes. They range from collecting apples from Whispy Woods and throwing them in your team's goal to chucking as well as hitting as puck into as many foes as possible to score points in one deadly game of ice hockey. Different arenas per event bring some variety to each battle type, offering more than a "seen it once, therefore I'm done" type of experience to events. Whether it was collecting ore and tossing it into a train for points, beating on a gigantic mechanical monkey to see who can deal the most damage to it, or stealing chips by attacking other enemies via fists, punches, or charges with a freaking hover bike, the battle events were enjoyable with none of them being ones I dreaded playing.

Forget what they say about an apple a day. Stockpile as many apples today as possible, Kirby!
While Dedede's Cake Royale and acquiring medals requires you to play against the AI for the most part, it's local and online battles where the real fun of Kirby Battle Royale is concentrated around, particularly local battles. You can play with up to four players, being everyone has their own 3DS system, but you need not all have a copy of the game thanks to the magic of Download Play. This means just one of you four (or two, or three, if you have a smaller party) needs to have a copy of Kirby Battle Royale to share the fun with everyone else. Being able to yell, shout, scold, and scream at your best buds and family members is insanely fun in a local context, something definitely missing from playing online.

Speaking of online, Kirby Battle Royale leaves much to be desired here. While the online has indeed improved in showcasing much less lag from the game's original launch a month-and-a-half ago, you're still stuck playing Ranked matches only. Trying to set up anything with faraway friends is best left for setting up in the middle night and not only hoping that you find each other, but that two other people find you so you can start a match. With Ranked, you earn points for wins, and when you level up, it's another way to earn currency to purchase collection menu goods.

Modern Kirby games are always bright, bouncy, and colorful, and this trend continues with Kirby Battle Royale. The visuals are nice and vivid, and effects like explosions and sword swipes really pack a visual punch. Unfortunately, those hoping for such sights to pop out at players will be out of luck, as with recent Nintendo releases, Kirby Battle Royale can only be seen in 2D. Still, what comes out of the artistry and appearance of the game is quite lovely to look at all the same. Another trend with Kirby games is a cute, stellar, and wonderful soundtrack, and again, this trend continues with Kirby Battle Royale as well.

Looks charming and pleasing visually. Battle Royale is certainly a Kirby game alright! 
If you will enjoy Kirby Battle Royale, my answer is that of two words: "It depends". What I mean by that is that if you have access to friends and/or family members who own their own Nintendo 3DS systems and would love to play the game with you, then Kirby Battle Royale is more than worth it. However, if you are playing the game for the single-player content and occasional online battles, then you probably won't get as much out of the game as someone with more options to them with a local gathering of players. For me, Kirby Battle Royale saw plenty of playtime on my Nintendo 3DS -- thanks to great local play and the desire to unlock content -- so I can't help but recommend it with the conditional "it depends" warning.

[SPC Says: C+]

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