If a multiplayer Kirby releases with a bad online experience, does it make a sound?
Kirby is one of my favorite Nintendo characters. His games consistently put me in a grand mood and bring pure joy to my face. His various abilities, granted by eating up enemies, add to the ways that you can approach a title. What would happen if you applied those abilities to a multiplayer focused action game? That idea might seem crazy, but it’s exactly the premise for Kirby Battle Royale. It features ten ways of playing, tons of abilities to use and many unlockables to earn.
The location where you will likely start is Dedede's Cake Royale. In this three to four hour story campaign, you will fight your way as Kirby alongside Bandana Waddle Dee. Your opponents are a bunch of Kirby clones created by the mighty King Dedede. There’s no confusing the source of the clones as he pulls out a cloning machine and just continues to pump out more Kirbys. At first, I thought that this would be a straight up tutorial on how the game is played, but it ended being more fun than that. The goal is to score points by completing missions and work your way up through the five ranks.
Those missions see you taking on the ten different battle types, but with additional restrictions to spice things up. You will be locked into using certain abilities, or getting a certain amount of points. The Cake Royale manages to stay marginally entertaining without outstaying its welcome. Each of the ranks can be completed in a span of 45 minutes, which includes qualifying battle or other surprises. That being said, there were two things that bothered me throughout the experience. Your starting point is laughably easy and the grand finale drags a tiny bit. Sure, these are things that can be overlooked in passing, but I noticed it instantly when I started to replay certain segments.
Once you’re done with the single-player campaign, it’s time to hold your own in some multiplayer. In the Battle Mode, you can play against harsh CPU opponents or even harsher local players. Most of the game can be played through the wireless and download play features, which will be the catalyst for some hot matches. Naturally, you will need multiple Nintendo 3DS systems to make multiplayer plausible. If you don't have any friends near you with the system, you're really out of luck. Mostly because this is the most I have screamed during a Nintendo 3DS multiplayer game. We laughed and challenged each other to the fullest as it was all great fun.
The variety of options for setting up a local battle are pretty incredible. You can select a bunch of the modes, play them in the locales you like and have some deeply tense matches going. Once I got the people and means to play Kirby Battle Royale, I honestly had a stellar time with it. It helps that the ten modes are really quite enjoyable. Battle Arena sees you using the various abilities in a real bout, Coin Clash sees you collecting coins in tight arenas and Robo Bonkers sees you fighting a gigantic robot monkey. Explaining the scoring structure and way of progression would take a while, but every battle goes by in a solid pace. That is what matters the most to me frankly.
What makes setting up battles trickier is how the online side is handled. In my multiple tests, it was impossible to get more than a couple online matches going. You see, Kirby Battle Royale uses a Ranked Battle system that teams you up randomly. While it’s fun to play a couple of rounds with others, I didn't get the same thrill as playing locally. Next to that, I found online battles pretty laggy in the times I gave it a fair shot. I wondered I couldn't just team up with a friend and experience the content together. We could hang around in a call, talk strategies and have a lovely old time. It complicates the process for no other reason than having a straightforward levelling system.
That levelling system grants you more money, which is important for collectibles. The same money can be earned by playing locally, against CPUs or through the single-player campaign. Why is netting money important here you might ask? Well, it unlocks the modes and abilities for the game's various options. There are a number unlocked as you start, but if you want to play as the Doctor, you will need to pony up the cash. You really want to do this as the abilities each offer adds quite a variety of moves. Next to this, you can also unlock various types of headgear for the abilities. And lastly you can unlock music found in the game.
To wind down, let's get the final important bits out of the way. The game offers 16 abilities in total and each is a lot of fun to toy around with. The Doctor gives you various potions to play with, while the Bomb ability allows you to dunk an explosive on your opponent. There are also a couple of unlockable characters if you manage to complete the game's single-player. This seems pretty doable as the Kirby Battle Royale controls are excellent. When it comes to presentation, it is exactly in line with other Kirby entries. It’s a sharp looking adventure with a nice focus on colors and bright effects. Sadly, this won't translate to 3D effects as the game doesn't support them. The soundtrack brings the right atmosphere to the game and I dug it a lot while going through it.
In all honesty though, Kirby Battle Royale relies a little too much on circumstances. If you want to get the most out of it, you will need a group of friends with Nintendo 3DS systems. The local multiplayer is the best time you will have with the game, so it’s important that you experience this. On your own, the campaign will be over before you know it and so you will come to rely on online battles. You can fight against others, but only in a Ranked Battle setting, which doesn't bring me the same joy. What doesn't help is that the game didn't ran smooth at all online. Kirby Battle Royale bums me out as an excellent multiplayer game that is buried under a poor direction.