Kirby Star Allies (sometimes written Kirby: Star Allies), known in Japan as 星のカービィ スターアライズ (Hoshi no Kabi: Sutā Araizu, meaning Kirby of the Stars: Star Allies), is a game in the Kirby series, set to be released on March 16, 2018 worldwide, and a demo on March 1 (EU) and March 4 (US). It is the first game in the series for the Nintendo Switch.
In a part of space far away from Planet Popstar, an officiant casts a spell to a large crystal heart, causing countless Jamba Hearts scatter as a result of a mysterious ritual. Many of them fall down to Dream Land, where they turn anyone they touch evil. When one dissolves into Kirby, however, it grants him the ability to throw hearts that befriend anyone they touch. He notices some Waddle Dees carrying a large amount of food to King Dedede’s Castle, which has become surrounded by dark clouds. Kirby sets off to investigate this mysterious phenomenon.
Kirby Star Allies is a traditional platformer Kirby game, in which the player controls Kirby, whose objective is to get to the end of each stage through the use of Copy Abilities. Kirby retains his traditional moves; the Inhale, Star Spit, Slide attack, Air Gun, and floating.
The game is a 2.5D platformer, meaning that the characters move on a two-dimensional plane in a 3D environment.
Two game mechanics return from previous installments of the Kirby series; those of Mix abilities (from Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards and Kirby: Squeak Squad, though in this game they are called Friend Abilities) and Helpers (from Kirby Super Star and its remake, though they are here referred to as “friends”). In a manner similar to the mechanic shown in the trailer for the unreleased Kirby GCN, there can be four player-controlled or CPU-controlled friends at one time. Kirby can throw a Friend Heart at certain types of enemies in order to turn it into a friend by using the X button; friends can also throw Friend Hearts in order to change their ability. Kirby and his friends can also do the same with Copy Essences and Ability Stars. Even if Kirby has no friends, another player can join, taking Kirby’s current ability similar to the helper mechanic in previous games; Kirby can also turn a friend into an ability item by performing “Unfriend,” which replaces the Drop Ability function if Kirby has none; this can also be achieved by throwing a Friend Heart at an enemy while already having three friends, and opting to cancel the action instead of replacing one of them. Friends can assist Kirby in multiple ways, allowing for combo moves such as creating a circular formation that allows them to roll ahead in certain areas. The player can also mix Friend Abilities by holding up on the analog stick and having a partner using an attack on the player’s character. Players can also revive a friend that has no HP, recovering only half of their total HP.
Additionally, there are two sub-games separate from the main game. They are small, competitive sub-games that also support up to four players at once. Star Slam Heroes is a timing-based game strongly reminiscent of Megaton Punch, where Kirbys power up a flaming baseball bat and attempt to smack a meteor the farthest distance. Chop Champs sees players using Joy-Con motion commands to try to chop as much wood as possible with their Kirby within a time limit while avoiding bugs and Gordos.
The game is set to receive two updates following the game’s release, adding Dream Friends (including Marx, the original three Animal Friends and Gooey).