Kirby Star Allies is a charming, friendly 2018 respite

Kirby Star Allies
Best 2D Platformer
Best Post-Launch Support
Best Cooperative Game
Friendliest Game

It’s well-known that there are two types of Kirby games: bold, experimental titles that stretch the idea of what a game can be… and traditional platformers. The first group is constantly lauded for going in its new, different directions, whether they be aesthetic (like Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse) or mechanical (like Canvas Curse and Tilt ‘n’ Tumble).

That second group gets a bad rap, though.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the weirder stuff like Star Stacker and Mass Attack. But the “boring” fare is just as valuable. It’s not about winning; the games are, for the most part, notoriously easy. It’s not about the powers; they’re enjoyable to use, but Kirby was Kirby before them. What it’s about, from the very first moment of Dream Land to the last scrap of Star Allies‘ recently-released free content updates, is being charming.

All Kirby wants to do is make friends, and never is that more clear than in Star Allies. Even if it didn’t feature a dedicated “make friend” button, this would be true. It’s not the first multiplayer Kirby game, but it is the first in which cooperation is deliberately encouraged. Return to Dream Land‘s companions are purely optional. The ones in Amazing Mirror are too much like real-world people, heading off to do their own thing and only showing up when you call them.

Star Allies, though, is about the charm of true friendship. It’s about finding ways to work together through combining and utilizing each others’ abilities. It’s about banding together to become larger and more capable than a collection of individuals with its formations. It’s also about letting your friends outshine yourself through the Guest Star mode.

It’s also about the charm of nostalgia. We’re approaching 30 years of Kirby games, and the most iconic pals from games past are back in this. It leverages all the work it has done over the years to make you fond of characters like Rick the Hamster and Gooey. It designs levels and bosses to remind you of old titles, then subverts your expectations just enough to be delightful.

Perhaps most importantly, Kirby Star Allies is about the charm of abundance. Much like the puffball, players can consume way more stuff than is necessary and absorb all of the energy within. The initial release had more than enough for players to enjoy, if they wanted. But all the additional stuff added through the year really makes things special. Sure, it’s a good reason to head back in after finishing the main quest earlier in the year, but the free, generous nature of all the extra stuff makes it feel so much like a gift. From a friend.

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