Kirby Battle Royale Review (3DS)

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Kirby Battle Royale for 3DS

Kirby Battle Royale has had a tough break. It’s a multiplayer focused game releasing on a handheld, which means getting games is already going to be hard enough. But then it’s had a splintered release worldwide, with different territories getting it at different times, and it’s releasing on a platform that has lost most of its mindshare due to a newer platform having launched in the meantime. All of this is especially disappointing because it’s a super vibrant and fun game, but it’s held back by how inaccessible its multiplayer is. The online is a ghost town already, so without friends to play with you’ll be stuck playing against AI over and over. Due to the fun design of the game’s various modes this isn’t so bad, but it definitely robs the game of longevity.

Kirby Battle Royale features 10 modes that re-interpret the same base mechanics in different ways. Each player picks one of the available Kirby abilities and then competes against the other players to achieve a goal that differs depending on the mode. It works really well because you don’t need to learn how to play 10 drastically different games as knowledge of each Kirby ability carries over into the other games, and yet the differing rules manage to provide experiences unique from each other. Different abilities are better suited for different games, but there are some that seem to be at the advantage in most modes. I found myself using the Whip ability most often because being able to grab enemies and items from a distance and throw them around was super useful. Each of the games is easy to understand and quickly explained with short text tutorials. Each mode is decent at worse, but some are fantastic and build upon simple premises to make entertaining experiences. They’re all manic with lots going on at all times, with players beating each other up, throwing things all over the place and interfering with each other’s goals.  I won’t detail all 10 of the modes on offer, but I will focus on a few that stood out.

Kirby Battle Royale - Battle Arena

The first one is called Flagball and is without a doubt the best game in the package. Add a little more content and a splitscreen mode and it would legitimately work as a standalone game on the Switch eShop. It’s so much fun with all sorts of chaotic scenarios emerging from the simple mechanics. A ball drops onto the field and the aim of the game is to score a goal by knocking it into the opposing team’s flag. A bit like soccer with a vertical element, but there’s a big twist – you can pick up the flags and move them around. It gives ‘moving the goalposts’ a new meaning. You can pick up your own flag to keep it away from your opponents or take their flag to move it closer to the ball. The result is a hectic mess where flags, Kirbies and the ball are flying all over the place and you’ll be pulling off all sorts of exciting manoeuvres like throwing the enemy’s flag in front of them as they’re going for yours and watching the shock and heartbreak on their character’s face as they slam the ball onto their own flag. Text doesn’t do it justice, it sounds so simple and plain but it’s such a lively and fun thing to play; definitely the highlight of Battle Royale.

In Ore Express the camera is slowly panning and you need to collect ore strewn throughout the level while keeping up with the camera. Every now and then a train will speed onto the screen with carriages for you to throw ore into. These open and close at intervals so you have to aim your throws carefully. You have to find the balance between attacking opponents to mess up their plans while also making sure you’re actually getting points from the ore. There’ll be tense moments like when you have a huge pile of ore that you need to throw into the train one at a time, but all your opponents are trying to beat you up for the ore so you have to flop around the place while trying to throw ore in at incredibly awkward angles. On top of all this you have to deal with obstacles like destructible barriers preventing you from progressing and the train itself, which moves into the playing space on some stages. The combat mechanics are incorporated into the objective better than they are in most other modes because of the limited supply of ore – if you want to score points you’ll need to fight over it with other players, and there’s an urgency to getting ore back.

Crazy Theater is one of the weirder modes available in Battle Royale. It fires a series of different objectives at you in rapid-fire succession, a lot like Warioware. These include avoiding enemy attacks for a set amount of time, picking up apples or standing on a tile with the correct answer to a simple maths problem. You have to meet the objectives to score points while also trying to disrupt your opponents’ efforts to stop them from scoring. There’s a risk and reward system of determining whether it’s worth focusing on attacking an opponent who’s scoring more than you or not, because if you get too deep you might end up not completing the objective yourself. The objectives will differ each time, which means that this mode is one that stays fresher on replays than other modes because you don’t know what to expect.

Kirby Battle Royale - Crazy Theater

Rocket Rumble is one of the modes I enjoyed the least in the game. It’s a rethemed version of the classic ‘Rob the Nest’ – each player or team has a rocket ship that needs to be fuelled up, and the team that has the most fuel in their ship wins. Fuel drops all over the stage and can be thrown into your spaceship, but you can also sabotage the other players by attacking their ship and causing fuel to drop out of it. Each round is too short for there to be any substance in a round, you’re almost always just grabbing as much fuel as you can and not worrying about other players. Rob the Nest gets good when there’s a limited amount of resources and players are forced into conflicts with each other, but that’s not the case here. The AI opponents are really dumb too, so there’s never any challenge here, you’ll always thrash them. This makes the ending of the mode frustrating and awkward – you watch each player shoot up into space with their rocket and gradually drop out as they run out of fuel. Since you get so far ahead of your opponents you’ll see them all drop out after a couple of seconds while your rocket keeps going and going and going despite it being so obvious that you’ve won, by a gigantic margin. It would be fun if you’re playing against friends because there’d be the tension of seeing everyone slowly fall to the victor, but when there’s such a skill gap between you and the AI it’s annoying. On top of all this, I’ve also had freezing issues in this one mode. The game has gotten stuck right at the end quite a few times, forcing me to turn off my console. Sometimes this has been in the middle of a multi-mode event where you play through different modes in sequence and I’ve had to start from the beginning. Not fun.

Kirby Battle Royale - Apple Scramble

You can set up custom matches where you’ll play through one or more modes in sequence with whatever AI abilities and difficulty you want to face up against, but the game also features a story mode. While the ‘story’ component of it is the bare minimum outside of some fun character interactions, the mode is good to play through regardless. It allows you to gradually work your way through the different modes and abilities on offer, as it will drip feed each of these to you as you win matches. There were a few tricky matches but for the most part I didn’t struggle with this at all. The hardest (and most interesting!) parts of this mode were when it throws gimmicky challenges at you that you won’t get in regular matches. These include starting you off with a handicap or failing you if an opponent scores a single point. This mode will last you a handful of hours and is worth playing through for the coins to purchase new content with, and there’s a few abilities tied to story progression as well.

Unfortunately the AI opponents (and partners) in Battle Royale aren’t capable enough to provide much challenge. Once you get the hang of each mode you’ll rarely, if ever, lose. This limits the longevity of the game because the multiplayer isn’t as accessible as it would be on a home console. While Battle Royale does support local download play, that’s still reliant on everyone having a 3DS on them, and you can’t rely on the online multiplayer because it’s already DOA. I’ve tried multiple times to find online matches to no avail, so I can’t even assess how successful the online play is because I can’t actually access it. Hopefully this picks up when the game is released in the US but don’t count on online play providing much value for you.

The amiibo use in Kirby Battle Royale isn’t particularly exciting but it’s a nice little bonus for anyone who already has the figures. Scan any figure of Kirby series characters or Qbby from BOXBOY and you’ll unlock a new costume for one of the abilities in the game. Some of these abilities must be unlocked before you can use the costume. These costumes are exclusive to the amiibo but do not offer any gameplay advantages; they’re just cosmetic differences. For more info on the amiibo functions check out our Kirby Battle Royale amiibo guide.

Kirby Battle Royale is a fantastic party game that has unfortunately released for a platform on which party game play isn’t that easy. It has a great variety of modes that play upon the same base mechanics in different ways to an overall great success. But due to the fact that it’s so reliant on having competition to play against, its appeal is limited. The online appears to be totally dead on arrival so if you don’t have friends with 3DSes that you can meet up with regularly then you’re not going to get the value of a full price game from it. That being said, I have had a lot of fun with it so if you can get it at a decent discount then definitely jump in.

 

This review was written based off a game or game content bought with the author’s own money. We don’t assign review scores to game reviews.

Decent
Summary
Kirby Battle Royale is a fantastic party game that has unfortunately released for a platform on which party game play isn’t that easy. It has a great variety of modes that play upon the same base mechanics in different ways to an overall great success. But due to the fact that it’s so reliant on having competition to play against, its appeal is limited. The online appears to be totally dead on arrival so if you don’t have friends with 3DSes that you can meet up with regularly then you’re not going to get the value of a full price game from it. That being said, I have had a lot of fun with it so if you can get it at a decent discount then definitely jump in.
Pros
Some brilliant modes that can almost stand on their own
Easy to understand
Abilities allow for some interesting strategies
Cons
AI doesn't provide any challenge
Big discrepancies in the usefulness of abilities
Online is dead as hell
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