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Joystiq presents

E308: Taking in Kirby Super Star Ultra's new minigames

The demo version of Kirby: Super Star Ultra was limited to one of the original minigames, Spring Breeze, and two new touch-based minigames, Kirby Card Swipe and Kirby on the Draw. It's not much of a revelation to say that Spring Breeze is great, because it was great on the original cartridge and it retains the same amount of greatness on the DS. The look did not need updating at all: Super Star's colorful, bright graphics hold up today. The new rendered intro scene looks awkward compared to the awesome original graphics.

In case Super Star is new to you, Spring Breeze is an abbreviated Kirby platformer in the style of Kirby's Adventure. Kirby walks through a series of levels, sucking up enemies, whose powers he can absorb. The levels all tend to be full of breakable blocks and little secret health items. The main wrinkle to Spring Breeze is the partner system: in addition to stealing abilities, you can also put an enemy into service, fighting alongside you, with his own life bar.
The new minigames are all designed for the touchscreen, and retain the extremely simple pick-up-and-play nature found in all Kirby games. They're also fully intended for multiplayer, to the point that playing alone means playing with three computer-controlled opponents.

Kirby Card Swipe shows you some number of cards on the bottom screen, each with a different character on it, then flips them. A card is revealed on the top screen, and your goal is to touch the matching card. It's pretty basic, but also very quick. Kirby on the Draw is also pretty basic: it's a shooting gallery in which cardboard-looking enemies pop up on screen and you tap them to shoot (with an arsenal of ten bombs, reloaded by touching the bottom of the screen) before the other players can. A bomb-type creature (displayed in 3D instead of 2D to distinguish itself) will subtract points when shot.

Two features elevate these two games beyond the simple diversions they sound like: first, Kirby on the Draw's screen absolutely fills up with targets. Things come in from all sides in larger numbers than could possibly be handled. This has the effect of making you feel very cool for shooting five guys in half a second. Second, the computer opponents are absolutely merciless. That may be the first time I experienced difficulty in a Kirby game. They were so brutal that I'm not really sure real people would be any better.

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