September 6, 2019

Review: Super Kirby Clash

Released as a surprise announcement during this week’s Nintendo Direct, Super Kirby Clash is what Nintendo likes to call a “Free to Start” Kirby game. Basically, this is Nintendo’s honestly much more accurate equivalent term for Free to Play Games, and it feels particularly applicable here, because this game is heavy on the monetization pushing. That’s not to say it’s not fun, but it will not let you forget that it wants money spent on it if you’re going to stick with it long term.

So, having put several hours into Super Kirby Clash, here’s my thoughts. The game basically presents itself as a simplistic 2D perspective Monster Hunter style game, where parties of up to four players take on boss fights, to earn resources, to get better equipment, to fight more bosses. If you’ve played any of the modern 3D Kirby games, particularly the Switch’s other Kirby game Star Allies, you’ll know roughly what to expect from the combat system. You can pick a class, starting with Sword Kirby, Hammer Kirby, Doctor Kirby, or Mage Kirby, and then use a two button combat system to jump and attack with your chosen weapon, plus use a simple block. It’s simple, but fun in the way all Kirby combat is kind of simple and fun. There’s simple health item pick ups, and you can collect resources to do a super attack, but it’s pretty basic.

So, let’s get to the meat of this review, talking about the monetisation. Super Kirby Clash features multiple types of in game currency, but the two main resources are Gem Apples and Vigor. Gem Apples can be earned in game, and you can collect some by opening the game every twelve hours, but they are also the game’s real world currency item. Gem Apples are used for everything, from buying new gear, to progressing through the game, to purchasing more Vigor. Vigor is the game’s timer system, used to prevent you from playing more than a certain amount of the game at a time. Every boss fight costs Vigor, and it takes time to recharge, with later bigger fights taking longer to recover from.

Kirby Super Clash’s early progression, unsurprisingly, is fairly generous, allowing you to play a decent amount of the game, pick up lots of early gear, and even input one time passwords for early batches of lots of resources to get you invested, but it doesn’t take more than a few hours to see where the game is going with its monetization system.

The first time you start to run dry of these Gem Apples, which generate at a rate of three per twelve hours, you’ll be prompted that if you had 50 of them (several days collecting diligently without spending any spending, or 50p), you could make the Gem Apple tree produce double the apples. This is the way the game is set up. It pushes you to not actually buy your way to the next action you want to take directly, it tries to dress that up by abstraction. Hey, it’s only 50p, just upgrade your tree, you’ll get twice the Gem apples every 12 hours. More every time sounds like it’ll mean I’ll never have this problem again, until the game wants more per action, and the next upgrade to the tree is offered for slightly more money. The game is quite nagging with its prompts and suggestions to just spend incremental amount on itself.

The game’s in game store also features a whole host of single use items to help you survive levels, that feel like they are there so that the game can be deliberately too tough and try to push late game microtransactions.

While Kirby Super Clash does not feature an option to pay a single amount to turn off all microtransactions and have this play as just a regular Kirby game, it does feature one top end microtransaction. For £36, you can buy 5,000 Gem Apples, unlocking the fully upgraded tree which produces 2,000 Gem Apples per twelve hours. Considering how much exponentially larger a number that is than the starting 10 Gem Apples per half day, you can see that those incremental upgrades are going to be massive in number. Put simply, if you plan to play this game to its end, you should probably just bite the bullet and pay that one off fee.

If you pick the game up, and you’re having enough fun with it you are considering paying money, ask yourself if you’re ready to drop £36 on it, because it seems like that’s the price ceiling to see this through. By all means pick it up, and play until you feel bugged for money, but remember that 2,000 gems per 12 hours for £36 top end figure.

Don’t get me wrong, Kirby Super Clash is a really fun little game. Its early fights are overly easy, and I have not made it deep enough for free to tell how high the skill ceiling goes, but it’s a polished game for fans of Kirby boss fights. If you can put up with aggressive monetization it’s worth a look, with features like local multiplayer making it worth at least downloading and having around. I wish it were just a proper for sale game, but I am not convinced enough by the handful of fights I have played for free to drop that £36 payment on it to just play it worry free.