Kirby Battle Royale is a simplistic multiplayer mini-game collection that lacks the depth and longevity to be fun for more than a couple of hours. The groundwork is solid enough so perhaps more could have been made out of it, but as it stands it feels like a forgettable attempt to maintain support for the slowly dying 3DS as we are all playing on Switch.
There is a new Kirby game out on 3DS. Chances are the news of its release flew right past you, and if you didn’t stumble upon this article, you might not have known. But here it is, Kirby Battle Royale. Now you know.
The game was released without media attention or any high profile advertisement from Nintendo themselves and it is doubtful that Nintendo was hoping that the game would make a big splash in 2017’s crowded and competitive Q4 release-schedule. And Kirby Battle Royal really is so forgettable and unimpressive that we’ll have forgotten it even exists before 2017 is over. It is hard to recommend this game, especially with its current price-tag and when there’s so many other high-profile titles that you could spend your time – or cash – on.
In all fairness, that says nothing about the game itself, and in an even more tragic twist, Kirby Battle Royale isn’t even really a bad game. It is essentially a collection of mini-games that can be played both locally or online against other players and even supports Download Play for two to four players. The various games range from collecting as many coins as possible while you try to steal from your opponents, chucking as many apples as you can in trapdoor after you’ve slashed them from Whispy Woods or simply straight up trying to defeat 3 other players in a free-for-all brawl. There are a few other games as well, involving rockets or bikes among others but the general concept is the same each time: get the highest score to win.
No matter the specific goal of each mini-game, you always get to choose with which of Kirby’s arsenal of powerups you thwart your opponents. And these powerups are classics straight from earlier Kirby titles like the Sword (default in this game), Bombs, the Hammer or Ice powers. You get to select from one of the powerups available before battle, and you can’t change them during a game nor do you have to absorb powers from enemies as you would in other Kirby games.
The powerups are quite varied in how they are utilized, and some are more suitable for certain types of mini-games than others, allowing for some welcome customization and strategy. You also have to unlock some powers before you can use them, and can buy visual customizations of each powerup using the Battle Coins earned from matches fought either locally or online.
The game also features a story mode that has you battle in a league called Dedede’s Cake Royale, where you start in the Beginner’s League and work your way up. To advance to next league you need to collect League Points, earned by completing the various battle challenges presented to you. These challenges consist of the same mini-games that are present in the multiplayer portion of Kirby Battle Royale without any changes, other than the fact that powerups have to be unlocked in Story Mode separately from those in multiplayer mode, and that every other player is an AI controlled character, be it an opponent or a teammate. This makes team challenges pointless as you’re basically doing everything yourself, and the AI’s difficulty is so low that all the way up to the end of the Story Mode, you’ll be bored to tears by how easy and repetitive it all is. It’s understandable that a singleplayer mode needed to be included, but this feels as interesting as playing Mario Party by yourself: not in the slightest.
What remains is playing these mini-games over and over against friends or against strangers if you want to take it online. The former is reasonably entertaining for an evening or two and especially suited for an evening indoors if you’re out of games to play together or just want some clean, uncomplicated fun. But even then the novelty wears off extremely quickly and the repetitive nature of the mini-games and lack of depth won’t keep you playing the game for more than a couple of weeks at best. A game like TriForce Heroes is simply much more fun, for instance. Or Mario Party, for that matter.
As Nintendo focuses more and more on supporting the Switch with good games – like a Kirby game – we can see the decline of the 3DS reflected in how Nintendo chooses to support the system. At least up until 2019 if they are to be believed, but if Kirby Battle Royale is to be an indication of how this 3DS support is going to look, we might as well all switch to the, uh, Switch right now.