When Kirby Fighters Deluxe released on 3DS in mid-2014, it was already overshadowed by the impending launch of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS that released only a few short months later. In 2020, Kirby Fighters 2 is in a similar predicament, coming out a couple years after the exceptional Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The question is, can this offshoot of a beloved Nintendo character and prominent Smash Bros regular do enough to distance itself from arguably one of the best Smash Bros games of all time?
Honestly, no. But Kirby Fighters 2 does succeed in other ways. Firstly, if you’re a Kirby main in Smash Bros, you are absolutely going to love Kirby Fighters 2. 90% of the roster are the various forms of Kirby along with some series mainstays like Meta-Knight. You’ve got Sword Kirby, Hammer Kirby, Yo-yo Kirby and plenty of others to unlock.
The entire cast of Kirby’s can be used across the game’s four different gameplay modes: Battle mode, online and offline multiplayer, a story mode and a single-controller mode. Of the four, the story mode is the most comprehensive, tasking players with climbing a tower of increasingly difficult battles.The player has access to one upgrade between each fight which can be used to restore your health, increase attack power or even increase the effectiveness of specific items.
I actually quite enjoyed this system, it reminded me of the way roguelites empower players to create their own build based on an upgrade system within the game. You can adapt your Kirby towards having more health, better defence or more attack power, all based on how you like to play the game.
The fighting itself feels quite basic compared to Smash Bros. Each character has a number attacks mapped to the B button which are accessed through different combinations of the analogue stick. A lets your Kirby jump and gloat, while Y lets you grab enemies. You can use ZL or ZR to block, but this has a stamina bar so you aren’t able to block permanently. There are also items and buffs to be found during each level that give player’s access to more powerful attacks, although the item selection isn’t quite as expansive as Super Smash Bros.
The combat system is okay, but it never really exceeded my expectations. It feels similar to Smash in some ways, but like a far more simplified version that lacks the depth that makes Smash so fun. Everything from the items through to the stages the action takes place on just falls short of what I’d come to expect from it’s bigger, more ambitious cousin. At a fraction of what Super Smash Bros. Ultimate costs though, it does offer a watered down experience at a much more convenient price.
Once players are finished with the story mode, there is an online battle area for players to fight in although at the time of writing this review, it took me around twenty minutes to find a game with enough people. This doesn’t bode too well for the game going forward as there isn’t a whole lot of content once the story is done.
Visually, Kirby Fighters 2 follows its lineage producing bright, colourful and cute characters fighting against dynamic, varied backgrounds. It looks great on the Switch’s smaller screen, but there were some noticeable jagged edges while playing on my 1080p monitor. I’m not sure if anti-aliasing might have helped, but it was quite distracting when playing on a bigger screen.