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DS Fanboy Review: Kirby Super Star Ultra

Kirby Super Star Ultra is the best of the traditional Kirby games (by which I mean the ones that don't feature Kirby as a ball). It features more abilities and more moves than pretty much any other Kirby game, and the levels are more varied in their design. It manages to still be the best traditional Kirby game, despite the fact that it was released in its original form on the Super NES. The new content certainly hasn't done it any favors, and, like all Kirby games, it won't provide much of a challenge, but Super Star Ultra remains as clever as it was in 1996, and completely worth every platform fan's time.

Kirby Super Star Ultra is true to the basic Kirby gameplay. That means that you'll control the puffball as he walks, runs, and floats through some meandering levels, swallowing up enemies to steal their abilities, and then fighting bosses who usually supply the means of their own destruction. The classic Kirby enemies and bosses all show up: Waddle Dee, Knuckle Joe, Poppy Bros. Jr, Meta Knight, and, of course, the completely non-menacing, huggable King DeDeDe.

However, many refinements distinguish Super Star from past -- or future -- Kirby games. Kirby can block in addition to his normal repertoire. His abilities also provide him with multiple attacks each: for example, Beam grants him the normal arcing beam sword, but also a cone-shaped running attack, a grab, a downward projectile attack, and a charge attack. And a hat. Kirby can also turn an ability into a partner -- an enemy who follows him around and attacks for him.

Most of the games selectable from the main menu -- Spring Breeze, The Great Cave Offensive, Revenge of Meta Knight -- can be thought of as "worlds" in an overarching Kirby game. They feature the same platforming gameplay and controls, but differ in terms of level structure and goal. The Great Cave Offensive sends Kirby on a search for sixty treasures hidden throughout the game, for example; and Revenge of Meta Knight involves a series of timed levels on the way to an epic fight with ... that little squat knight guy.

Other minigames on the collection actually are minigames: a timing-based samurai duel, for example, or an eating competition/ race against DeDeDe. These are fairly fun, but seem like masterpieces of game design compared to the new minigames -- touch-controlled games that, while hard enough to be novel for Kirby, are also not that fun. Kirby on the Draw and Kirby Card Swipe are notable for their difficulty -- not expected in a card-matching game and a shooting gallery, respectively -- but Snack Tracks is notable for nothing. It's irredeemably useless.

The other new content -- variations on the main game modes accessible after completion -- fare better, and add value to a collection that is already worth playing. If you like Kirby at all and have never played Super Star, this is a no-brainer. You'll get through the game in a couple of days, and you may not die even one time, but the experience is just fun from start to finish. After years of disappointing platform games, Kirby Super Star only seems better these days.

Final Score: 8/10

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