Kirby Super Star is one of many classic games celebrating a milestone this year. Along with Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot, Kirby Super Star is now 20 years old.
Released on the SNES in 1996, Kirby Super Star set itself apart from previous entries in the series. The game still had the series’ trademarked copy ability gameplay, colorful graphics and upbeat, addictive music.
However, to quote the 80s classic This is Spinal Tap, “It goes to eleven.”
Kirby Super Star offers players 25 unique copy abilities, eight creative sub-games to play and some of the best music on the SNES. It also contains one of the more distinct and entertaining two player modes in any platformer. The game also contains top notch controls.
After two decades and several legitimately fantastic entries in the series later, is Kirby Super Star still great? Are gamers looking through pink tinted glasses? Does its remake, Kirby Super Star Ultra, overshadow it? Or does Kirby Super Star still stand on its own and deserve to be put into every SNES owner’s collection?
What makes Kirby Super Star so great? Variety of course!
Similar to any work of art, there are several factors that make Kirby Super Star great and it’s strongest trait is its variety. Each of the sub-games are all creative and worth checking out at least once. However, a player should play them all in a row to get a true one-of-a-kind Kirby experience.
The variety in Super Star feels more concise and straight to the point than its remake. There is just enough sub-games where none of them feel tacked on and the copy abilities are a perfect assortment. The game is also not terribly long and overly stuffed.
Super Star Ultra adds a lot of mini-games and special modes, on top of the enhanced graphics and sound. However, Super Star Ultra is spread a little bit too thin. The extra stuff is just there. Getting the chance to throw down as Meta Knight is fun and the online multiplayer is great, but they aren’t particularly needed additions.
Copy Abilities are EVERYWHERE!
Along with the sub-games come the copy abilities. With 25 unique ways to defeat enemies, Kirby Super Star also introduces the Kirby Hats. Kirby will change color and wear a different hat or hairstyle to coincide with the ability. It’s a nice graphical change that keeps the variety up.
There is also not one copy ability that is not useless. The classic abilities of Fire, Sword and Stone are there. However, the more creative ones, Yo-Yo, Suplex and Ninja make appearances in Kirby Super Star. Fighter Kirby makes his first appearance in the game as well!
The game allows for experimentation, as it does not penalize you for not having a particular copy ability. If someone wants to play through only using Fire, they can! If they feel like switching out every few seconds, players can!
It’s strange to think about, there is a significant amount of freedom and choice in a Kirby game.
Twice the Fun with Two Players!
Playing the game as just Kirby is a fun time. Using the abilities to create a second player makes Kirby Super Star more of an unadulterated blast. Player twos will take control of one many cartoonish enemies Kirby copies abilities from. For example, if Kirby gets rid of his ability, than Player Two will become that enemy. It makes for some real fun gameplay combinations and silly, but fun, moments.
8 9 Games in 1!”
Kirby Super Star boasts the “eight games in one” slogan right on the box. The games are all interesting and remarkable in their own right. The “eight games in one” schtick may appear gimmicky. It is technically nine, counting the mini-games. However, each sub-game contains its own story, challenge and even graphical aesthetics, along with slight positive updates to the gameplay.
Spring Breeze is a loose remake of Kirby’s Dream Land, but now with the copy abilities. It’s a fantastic start to the game and hooks players in with its colorful graphics. Level design and bosses are all great, but it’s just an appetizer to the main course.
Dyna Blade is the first original game on deck. It’s up to Kirby to defeat the title character, who has been terrorizing Dream Land. The map system is a lot like Super Mario World, and is an extended version of Spring Breeze. It just happens to have better level design, boss fights and a memorable final one with Dyna Blade herself.
The Great Cave Offensive is the Kirby series attempt at a Metroid style game. Kirby has fallen into a massive cave and find his way out, while spelunking for treasure. Also, Kirby must fight off several unique bosses, including one that is a hysterical parody of Final Fantasy’s turn based combat. The Great Cave Offensive is definitely the most difficult for players and it is a MASSIVE part of the game. However, there are players who don’t want to leave the caves and just keep exploring.
Gourmet Race has Kirby and the nefarious and hilarious King Dedede competing in a foot race to see who can eat the most food. The music is beyond memorable and has been remixed more than a few times. This is also a blast because of how competitive it is.
Revenge of Meta Knight, arguably the darkest of the eight games, has Kirby stopping his rival from conquering Dream Land. Meta Knight and his cronies send just about everything after Kirby, including a combat lobster and a MASSIVE gun. The speed run nature of the gameplay, appearance of the fan favorite Meta Knight and pulse pounding music make Revenge of Meta Knight one of the more memorable sub-games in Kirby Super Star. The dialogue between Meta Knight and his army is also enjoyable.
Finally, after blowing through each game, the player unlocks the penultimate sub-game, Milky Way Wishes. The Sun and Moon are fighting caused by an unknown entity. Kirby’s friend Marx shows up to help. Milky Way Wishes has Kirby traveling throughout the galaxy. Stopping from planet to planet, Kirby notices the damage the Sun and Moon are doing, which results in some unique level design and steep challenge. Milky Way Wishes is also the only game in the franchise to have the Copy Ability Deluxe feature, where Kirby must find the abilities and stock them. It also contains one of the best final bosses in any Kirby game.
The Arena is Kirby Super Star’s boss rush mode and is easily the most difficult of all the sub-games. The Arena only gives the player five Maximum Tomatoes to recharge on health to fight all of the game’s bosses.
Rounding out Kirby Super Star are two mini-games. Megaton Punch and Samurai Kirby are quick games involving timing. Megaton has Kirby facing off against strong enemies by testing his strength. Samurai is stylish like a classic samurai film and has Kirby taking out enemies similar to the quick draw mini-game in Kirby’s Adventure. The two mini-games are fun to play around with when you need a break from the actual game.
Everything Else Fires on All Cylinders
Kirby Super Star’s other features like its graphics, controls and sound are about as flawless as a 2D platformer can be. No one will ever feel like they are out of control or they won’t brush off the graphics as being “just another SNES game.” And no one will be able to not hum the theme to “Gourmet Race” after playing it. It goes without saying the features that make up video games (controls, graphics, etc..) are phenomenal in Kirby Super Star.
There are many SNES games that are as colorful and full of energy and take full advantage of the superior sound capabilities. Kirby Super Star absolutely deserves to be on the list of SNES greats like Super Metroid or Chrono Trigger in terms of using the hardware to its full potential.
My personal experience with the game…
I first played Kirby Super Star back in 1999. One of my childhood friends had an elusive SNES still kicking and owned a copy of Kirby Super Star. Now, I had only played Kirby’s Dream Land 2 on the Game Boy, so to say my experience with the Kirby franchise was limited is accurate. On my friend’s birthday, we all decided to head over in his basement and start playing away.
Within the next few hours, I don’t remember playing anything else but Kirby Super Star. All I wanted to do was conquer the Halberd as Kuckel Joe one more time. I wanted give back the food to Dream Land from Dyna Blade or just race King Dedede. I wanted to play as every enemy who had Kirby’s abilities. I just wanted to play this game!
As the years went by and several “edgy/mer-I-hate-Nintendo” phases later, I bought a Wii. Mostly to play games on the Virtual Console.
One summer, I downloaded Kirby Super Star from the Virtual Console on a whim. The same feelings I had when I played the game back in 1999 came flooding back nearly 11 years later. The gameplay still held up after all these years and I couldn’t believe it. I even found myself enjoying it more than the other Kirby games I downloaded.
Not counting RPGs, it’s the most played game on the Virtual Console for me.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Kirby franchise and will always love Kirby Super Star. It’s one of the few video games where I can play for five minutes or five hours and still be happy. To me, it’s the only Kirby game that feels fresh every single time I boot it up. Kirby Super Star is just simply fun. It doesn’t tell a deep story, it does not completely reinvent platforming. Kirby Super Star just does everything right and keeps players entertained, no matter what.
For those who are curious, Revenge of Meta Knight is my personal favorite sub-game and the Yo-Yo ability is my favorite Kirby copy ability of all time.
Kirby Super Star is still great even after two decades and a remake
Ask any Kirby fan what their personal favorite is in the series and it will usually differ. However, one game in the series all fans can agree is legitimately great is Kirby Super Star. The perfect graphics, sound and control build up the experience. It is the gameplay that is chock full of diversity and choices that sets it apart.
Kirby Super Star does its job so well that it is the measuring stick for many Kirby games have copied it. It’s also a game many gamers have fond memories of.
Happy 20th, Kirby Super Star! A game this legitimately great after all these years deserves to be played by anyone. It truly is one of the best SNES games and an honest classic.