GameSpite Journal 10 | Tetris Attack

Kirby Super Star | Dev.: HAL | Pub: Nintendo | Genre: Platformer | Release: Sept. 1996

If one were to stuff Kirby’s evolution of game design across the Dream Land trilogy into a single cartridge, the result might resemble Kirby Super Star. The basic platforming elements of the series are all in place: Flying, inhaling enemies, and copying their abilities. Also putting in an expected appearance is a cast of familiar faces like Wispy Woods, Meta Knight, and King Dedede. Developer HAL established early on what a Kirby game would entail, and by the time Kirby’s Dream Land 3 made its late appearance on the Super NES at the end of 1997, the series was already beginning to feel a little stale. Each installment included more of the same with a few new additions; while side stories like Kirby’s Adventure on the NES gave fans immersive gameplay and narrative experiences that Super Star sought to further expand upon.

Eschewing one sequential story in favor of nine distinct games, it was almost as if Kirby Super Star represented the logical conclusion of the series to that point -- a celebration of all things Kirby featuring new elements that would eventually appear in later games. With his familiar move set at his disposal, each of Kirby’s bite-size quests revolved around a unique set of circumstances that would dictate the manner in which players approached them. The mastery of basic skills was constantly tested under a variety of changing conditions that helped to keep the entire experience fresh from start to finish.

Further toning down the series’ tepid difficulty, Super Star added a lengthy life bar and the ability to block attacks. Kirby could also inhale enemies to transform them into helpers who would fight alongside him, putting Super Star in the running for one of the best co-op experiences on the SNES. This addition gave Kirby twice as many options for tackling a slew of new levels. The obvious advantage: Dishing out double damage. Having a friend along also allowed players to swap abilities as needed—especially useful where certain powers were required to reach secret areas.

Super Star warmed players up with two straightforward platforming adventures, Spring Breeze and Dyna Blade. As they progressed, more games became unlocked. Gourmet Race was a food-nabbing mad dash to the finish line against King Dedede. Revenge of Meta Knight, another time-based challenge, chronicled Kirby’s attempts to thwart his rival’s plan for conquering Dream Land. For those seeking a nonlinear experience, The Great Cave Offensive presented a vast labyrinth to explore in search of treasure. Milky Way Wishes also played with an open-ended formula, forcing Kirby to travel across the solar system to catalog his misplaced powers by collecting Copy Pedestals. Additional mini-games, Samurai Kirby and Megaton Punch, featured time and reflex-based challenges with little depth, but their mastery was required to unlock The Arena, a challenging boss rush that would later resurface in the Super Smash Bros. series.

Kirby Super Star has since been given an updated remake on the DS with a few unlockable additions, though its hungry, pink hero moved on to star in a string of innovative titles on all of Nintendo’s consoles and handheld devices after the Super NES’ retirement. As one of gaming’s most adventurous characters, Kirby has always been happy to shake things up for fans so long as they can spare the occasional tomato.

By Jacob Smiley? | May 3, 2012 | Previous: Tetris Attack | Next: Street Fighter Alpha 2