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Kirby: Battle Royale – Just an Appetizer, Also Flagball


(Image Source: Amazon)

Once in awhile there's an explosion of Kirby titles. On Nintendo 3DS specifically though, I've lost track of what is coming and when. There has been a significant mix of both retail and digital releases over the last couple years, and I honestly have no idea what is what anymore. Kirby: Battle Royale briefly caught my eye because visually the tutorial reminded of a canceled Kirby prototype for GameCube. Despite the brief obstacle course at the beginning of the game, it's far from the brawling adventure I expected.

(Image Source: Nintendo)

Kirby: Battle Royale is 4-player arena based fighting game that swaps between isometric and side-scrolling perspectives. Each Kirby selects a Copy Ability before a round, which determines their moveset for that individual fight. No matter what type of battle, you'll have access to the same three attacks per Copy Ability. This includes two normal attacks and a charge skill. All players can also grab and throw items or other Kirbies.

Instead competing to drain each other's HP, there are ten rule and map types with different goals. Some ask the players to fight over resources, be the last man standing, get the most points in a boss fight or score a goal.

(Image Source: Nintendo)

While it's impressive that the team was able to come up with ten different arena modes that feel different despite the shared control scheme, they're all short competitions that aren't particularly deep. Fundamentally, there's only a couple of ways to approach each event. Instead, the variety comes from using copy abilities.

Since each ability behaves differently, how you play will vary substantially based on what you've brought into battle. In online ranked matches the modes are voted on after choosing a power, so it's best to learn to be adaptable.

The promise of copy abilities adding variety is where Kirby: Battle Royale begins and ends. The ten different modes can be boiled down to three set ups. Either you're directly fighting, claiming resources or completing a challenge alongside others. That's about it. Even the story content simply ques up matches against progressively harder AI in re-purposed multi-player events.

(Image Source: Nintendo)

An orb system gives timed stat enhancements, but they can't be used online and are introduced late in the story progression. Unless you're doing free battles offline, you'll likely never interact with them again.

It's sad that the tutorial is probably the most exciting bit of Battle Royale. Running through a short obstacle course and slaying some enemies feels like a tease of something that would have had this multi-player content as a bonus. That's not what this game is and I don't blame it for not being that, nevertheless it's hard to look at Battle Royale and feel like it's a complete package given its full retail price.

(Image Source: Nintendo)

One mode I would love to see return in some other form is Flagball. It's a two-on-two basketball-like event where players attempt to throw a ball at their team's flag. However, they can also pick up the flags themselves and move them around the map. This adds a lot of risk/reward options so everyone doesn't just chase the ball. In addition to the variations the copy abilities add, there's also occasionally a set up where the flags combine into one object. One team's flag will be on the left side of the object, and the other's on the right. It's surprisingly deeper than anything else here and probably the most fun I had.

Kirby: Battle Royale almost feels like an attempt to make an entire title out of a single Kirby mini-game. Maybe there's something to playing with friends who are actively interacting and speaking with each other, but I'm not in the position to explore that option. Playing alone though, there's simply not enough variation or content to keep it interesting for more than a couple hours.

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About Oculinone of us since 8:47 PM on 03.29.2012

Oculin, or Benjamin Yoder, was previously Editor-in-Chief at TheSpeedGamers and contributor at VGChartz. Now, he is simply a game blogger and weeaboo in denial.

Digging for gems in unknown or poorly received titles is what Oculin games for. He places a large emphasis on interesting ideas and entertainment value, versus polished mechanics.

Disclosure: The Pokemon Company International is a client of my current place of employment.