It's been about twelve years since I first received my kickass Virtual Boy, only to have it returned so I could rent Kirby Super Star for the Super Nintendo. Yes, I said rent. For some reason, my dad thought a $5 rental would be a fine substitute for a $180 birthday present than buying me the $50 game. At least I greatly enjoyed Kirby's latest adventures for the week I had to play them.
Now, maybe my memory fails me and things didn't actually happen that way, but I do remember owning a Virtual Boy for a few days and I don't remember owning Kirby Super Star until only a few years ago (which I quickly lost when I let a now ex-friend borrow it). Despite how long I played/owned it, Kirby Super Star has held a place in my list of favorite games of all time since it was released. When Nintendo announced Kirby Super Star Ultra, I was obviously quite excited.
Now that the handheld incarnation of my favorite Nintendo character's best game has been released, it's time to get less excited and more concerned about how bad they fucked up. Is it as amazing as it was on the Super Nintendo? Let's find out.
If you aren't familiar with the original Kirby Super Star, kill yourself. Once you're done with that, you can come back to this and I'll tell you why it was so amazing. If you're one of the cool kids that has played the original, pat yourself on the back and feel free to skip ahead if you just want to know what the DS remake brings to the table (I've marked the start of that section in bold for your convenience).
Kirby Super Star was advertised for the Super Nintendo as including 8 games in one. Of course, only one is available at the start. Spring Breeze, the first of the seven, is a remake of the first Kirby game, Kirby's Dream Land for the original Game Boy. It only lasted a few levels until you fought King DeDeDe and returned all the food he stole from the inhabitants of Dream Land.
After that's all said and done, you gain access to Dyna Blade and Gourmet Race. Dyna Blade is more standard Kirby action, except with a little overworld map in between levels. It's a bit longer than Spring Breeze. Gourmet Race is more of a mini-game in my opinion, as it places you against King DeDeDe in a race through three levels. The winner is determined through the number of food items you eat during the races and the number of times you win.
The Great Cave Offensive is the next game you unlock and is significantly longer than the others, if only because it requires a bit more exploring. In this adventure, Kirby goes treasure hunting underground. This one requires you to keep an eye out for treasure chests, which open up to reveal sixty different treasures. They each have their own money value (to determine your score) and many of them reference other Nintendo games (Screw Attack and the Triforce come to mind). This one was always my favorite, as I have an unhealthy addiction to collecting things.
The Revenge of Meta-Knight follows Kirby as he trashes Meta-Knight's ship, the Halberd. This one has some great dialogue from the ship's crew as they freak out about Kirby tearing the place to shreds. Milky Way Wishes sends Kirby on a quest to stop the Sun and the Moon from fighting. This one differs a bit from the rest in the way that you have to find your abilities before being able to use them. That means there's no copying allowed, but you can use any ability you've collected at any time.
These games, along with two mini-games (Megaton Punch and Samurai Kirby), made up the original Kirby Super Star. All of the platforming sections play just like every other Kirby game, except for a few minor improvements. This game was the only Kirby game (aside from the more recent Squeak Squad) to give each power multiple attacks. Also, Kirby's abilities can be transformed into a friendly version of the enemy it originated from, who can help Kirby out on his adventure.
So now we have Kirby Super Star Ultra, a remake of the wonderful title I described above. It's almost a direct conversion, with no gimmicky touch screen controls to ruin the games (well, not the core games, at least.....the three new mini-games are a different story).
As far as visuals go, the game looks nicer than it did on the SNES. The sprites have been updated and it looks a bit more colorful. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the new 3-D cutscenes. The DS isn't exactly known for its brilliant video quality, so I'm not surprised that they look a little on the crappy side, but I don't understand why they couldn't just redo the 2-D cutscenes like they redid the rest of the game (they are unlockable, but I wish they were the main cutscenes). Even if the video quality was top-notch, I'd still find all the 3-D cutscenes to be a bit of an eyesore.
When it comes to gameplay, Kirby Super Star Ultra does the original justice. It handles just as well as it did on the SNES, though there has been some concern over more subtle aspects of the game. There's a lot of people complaining about how easy the game is and how it would take little effort to beat it 100% in a matter of hours. While the difficulty does ramp up a bit as the game progresses, it's very true that most of the game won't take a whole lot of skill to master.
But guess what? It's a goddamn Kirby game! The Kirby series has been known for being notoriously easy right from the start, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that this game follows suit. I must admit that I feel a lot less challenged by Kirby Super Star Ultra than I did with the original, but I contribute a lot of that to being older now and better at games in general. Some say the DS remake has been modified to be easier, but I don't really care. The game is still fun and that's all that really matters to me.
Kirby Super Star Ultra is a great remake of a great game. Like all Kirby games, it's a bit of a cakewalk, but it's still a load of fun. I don't really want to spoil all the new modes in the game, but there are a few new adventures (or rather, more difficult renditions of the old) to keep even those who mastered the original Kirby Super Star interested. There's also a few different Arena modes that provide a bit more of a challenge if you want that 100%. I still haven't beaten one of the Arena modes and it may take me a few more days before I can claim a perfect save in this game.
I highly recommend Kirby Super Star Ultra to anyone who loves Kirby or a good 2-D platformer in general. There's a lot of fun to be had, even if it's not the most difficult (until you hit the arena modes and wonder why the hell you're sucking so bad at a Kirby game). There's also some multiplayer action to be had, with a second player taking control of your helper character. It's an all-round great package that you won't be disappointed with unless you hate fun.