Kirby Fighters 2 Review
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Kirby Fighters 2 came out of nowhere. It got leaked ahead of release then very quickly came out in a surprise drop. Nintendo have been loving their surprise announcements recently and this is just another example of that. The original Kirby Fighters was a 3DS spinoff that very few people probably remember existed, and now we’ve got a sequel on Switch. It’s another in a long list of unexpected games from Nintendo, but is it worth buying?
The first thing I want to mention is what’s actually available in the game. You’ve got local play and online play, alongside a Story Mode and a bonus “Single-Handed Mode”. You can battle with friends, AI or random online players in the regular modes, or you can pair up with an AI partner and climb the tower in Story Mode to face off against King Dedede and Meta Knight. Single-Handed Mode removes your AI partner and sees you facing off against unbalanced amounts of enemies on your own, which adds an extra challenge. For a fairly cheap game this is a good amount of variety on the surface, but all of these modes play the same for the most part. Story Mode is the meatiest of them all but it’s still quite repetitive, and I’ll explain why.
In Story Mode you’re aiming to fight your way up the tower in progressively longer challenges. I enjoyed playing it, but it’s very simple and a bit grindy. It feels a bit like a watered-down rogue-like. After each fight you get to choose an item/upgrade from a random selection to boost your power, and each fight will have random effects and enemies to defeat. One round might give all players increased speed and another might increase the amount of explosions. This random element makes each fight slightly different, although at the end of the day you’re mostly just going to be beating up opposing Kirbys with a fairly limited moveset.
There’s definitely a lack of variety, especially with the bosses which are just recycled with a few different moves. There’s no risk of losing for the most part because you get to retry levels if you die. Some of the bosses were challenging to take down within the time limit, but there’s no real danger of being kicked out until the Final Chapter which forces you to start over after 3 deaths.
Thankfully, the progression system in Kirby Fighters 2 is pretty good and makes the grindy nature of the tower a bit more tolerable. You’re constantly unlocking new abilities for Kirby as well as new stages or items which is a nice way to keep people hooked. Once I unlocked all the abilities I didn’t feel much motivation to continue though. You can unlock Meta Knight and King Dedede for beating the harder Story Mode chapters but after that you’re basically done with any meaningful content.
The gameplay is fairly enjoyable but it’s very basic. You can attack, guard or grab your opponent, and each character has a different moveset. Kirby feels very slow though, especially when you’re in the air. Most of my matches felt like I was just spamming the same moves over and over because you’re rarely punished for it. The game is very easy for anyone who’s played fighting games before and even cranking up the difficulty does little to make it a true challenge. I beat the final boss of Single-Handed Mode on Hard difficulty by spamming the same two attacks with Beam Kirby. The AI feels borderline broken at times as they just charge headfirst into your powerful projectiles. Other times they’ll just sit at one side of the stage and spam their own projectiles which makes the fight absolute hell. I fought 2 Archer Kirby’s at the same time without a partner and it was an absolutely awful experience.
It’s fun to experiment with different abilities but the game definitely lacks variety. There are all kinds of different Kirby abilities to use, ranging from swords, hammers and staffs to a horned beetle and a parasol. A lot of them feel similar in playstyle though. There are a few interesting abilities but most of them don’t feel very distinct. Most characters are just different types of Kirby but some are unique, like Waddle Dee or Gooey, and the game could have done with a few more of these.
The game is a fun casual game to mess around on with friends but if you want to play online against other players you’d better prepare for some excruciating lag. Nintendo games have never really been great when it comes to online play and Kirby Fighters 2 continues this trend and then some.
Half the games I played online had horrible lag and ended up in disconnects. If you remember playing Super Smash Bros Brawl’s awful online mode back on the Wii, this is almost exactly like that. You’ll load up a match and the game will be running in slow motion or just won’t load at all. If you do get a good match it’s usually over in 30 seconds because all players have a short health bar and once both you and your partner die the game ends. It would be a lot better if players had lives or more health but as it stands you end up spending more time waiting for a match than actually playing one, and that’s guaranteed to get worse after the initial release period where more people are trying the game.
The visual fidelity isn’t very impressive either, but I doubt this game had a very big budget as it’s just a spin-off. The art style is quite pleasant though and I like how some of the stages take a retro approach like Butter Building. If you’ve played a lot of Kirby games you’ll recognise a lot of the stages and it’s cool to see a good variety of them. The stage hazards are a bit obnoxious though. Many stages have huge hazards you need to avoid and at times it can be hard to tell what’s even going on if you have 4 players, items and hazards all flying around the screen. There’s definitely a bit of visual clutter and it lacks the polish of many other Nintendo titles.
There’s a good amount of items and unlockables, and there’s plenty of fan-service for Kirby fans, but unless you really like the sound of the Story mode or you’ve got friends who want to play it with you it’s probably not worth picking this up despite the fact that it’s relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, I can only see myself picking it up again if I just want something mindless to play while I watch something on my other screen. Kirby Fighters 2 is a fun casual game but before long you’ll have seen everything this game has to offer.