|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Hal Laboratory Inc.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 22, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
While the DS is known for some of the most original software in the portable gaming space, it also gets its fair share of remakes. The most recent of these is Kirby Super Star Ultra. Kirby's latest adventure is a redone version of Kirby Super Star, originally released on the SNES back in 1996. Though much of Ultra is taken directly from the SNES title, there have been enough significant changes that keep this game feeling fresh.
The most obvious change comes in the game's graphics. While Super Star was a good-looking SNES game, Ultra's look is decidedly more polished. The game's characters are detailed and well animated, and the backgrounds are more vibrant and colorful than ever. Ultra even sports some fairly high quality cutscenes before and after most levels. It is slightly disappointing to see a small black border surrounding these cinemas such that they don't fill the entire screen, but they really do look exceptional for DS cinematics.
As with the original Super Star, Ultra is broken up into six different segments rather than being one long adventure. I'm not sure if the developers had portables in mind when creating the original, but this segmented approach is perfect for traveling gamers. Besides Ultra's more traditional platforming levels, each section has its own twists, making them feel like their own little self-contained games. One will have players racing against King Dedede, trying to make it to the finish while consuming more food along the way. Another has Kirby traversing interconnected mines while attempting to discover sixty well-hidden treasures.
Aside from the six segments taken directly from the original Super Star, players will also be able to unlock several that are brand new to Ultra. Revenge of the King has Kirby fighting his way through several of the game's mid-bosses, culminating in a final showdown with King Dedede. Sure to be a fan favorite is Meta Knightmare Ultra, which allows you to essentially play through Kirby's adventure as Meta Knight. Every foe you defeat along the way will gain you power which can then be used to heal, speed up, call an ally, or unleash a massive attack. Although all the game's segments control similarly, save the obvious differences between playing as Kirby and Meta Knight, the different objectives offered from each segment add a welcome variety to the straightforward platforming action.
The core gameplay mechanics everyone expects from a Kirby game are all here. The friendly pink blob can run, jump, fly, suck in enemies to steal their powers or use them as projectile weapons, and even block to take less damage from foes. Kirby controls rather well and is surprisingly responsive. There are a wide variety of powers that Kirby can siphon from specific enemies, including everything from the ability to wield a deadly parasol to being able to spew flames from his mouth. These powers not only help players in combat but are also essential to finding hidden pathways and doors.
Kirby Super Star Ultra is a fairly easy game to play through, and one of the game's other new additions makes it even easier to complete. When Kirby swallows an enemy and gains their power, a press of the X button will take said power away from Kirby and spawn an A.I. controlled support character with the same power. Players can still attain another power after making an ally, so there is really no drawback for doing so. Your ally functions fairly intelligently and also has their own health bar, which makes completing levels a breeze. This is especially true since you can also heal your ally by picking up health items and giving them a quick kiss. Admittedly, that part is a little strange, and certainly awkward, but it does make your partner incredibly hard to kill. Boss battles also become exceptionally easy, as you can just sit back and deal ranged damage while your partner attacks, distracts, and soaks up damage from these otherwise formidable foes.