Video Game Vault: “Kirby Super Star” (SNES, 1996)

Kirby, Everyone’s favorite pink puffball from “Super Smash Bros.,” shows his stuff in what may be the best Kirby game ever: “Kirby Super Star” for Super Nintendo. Changes to gameplay introduced in “Kirby Super Star” set it high above its predecessors. Before asking anyone who has played “Kirby Super Star” what sets it apart, make sure you’ve set aside a few hours to hear the answer. It’s that good.

“Kirby Super Star” was released as “Kirby Fun Pak” in Europe, and that’s exactly what it is. This single entity is actually nine games in one, including two addictive mini-games: “Megaton Punch” and “Samurai Kirby,” both of which provide endless entertainment. The remaining seven involve a variety of platforming adventures, from “Gourmet Race,” where you travel through a level consuming as much food as possible while attempting to finish before your opponent, to “The Great Cave Offensive,” where Kirby goes hunting for treasure. Of course, there are still stages that follow the classic Kirby formula of sucking up enemies and copying their abilities while running through a series of levels. Each of these stages is entertaining, though none are particularly challenging.

What makes Kirby so ridiculously amazing — or perhaps so amazingly ridiculous — is the variety of abilities he picks up in his adventures. While the game includes such classics as Beam, Fire and Stone, it also introduces its fair share of wackiness. These oddball abilities include — but are by no means limited to — Yo-Yo, Ninja, Suplex and Cook. “Kirby Super Star” was the first Kirby game in which the player gained a whole set of abilities by eating an enemy, as opposed to a single attack. It was also the first game in which Kirby wore different hats to indicate his abilities. Ninja Kirby? Totally badass.

Kirby can also give up his abilities to create a helper with the same skill set. A friend can then use a second controller to take charge of the minion, making this one of the more social Kirby games. Two players can team up in plot modes or battle in the mini-games. From a purely nonsocial aspect, the helper feature is entertaining to manipulate. When his health gets low, the player can simply absorb him again and recreate him at full health. Invincible minions: Totally badass again.

Each level is preceded by a tutorial that takes place on a theater stage, complete with a red curtain and cheering audience. All the different games within the compilation start to feel like scenes from one huge play. The game worlds are full of bright colors and cute, though menacing, enemies, which inevitably bring a smile.

“Kirby Super Star” is one of Super Nintendo’s best games. Everything that Nintendo stands for is rolled into one pink little puffball. It’s cute, colorful, fast-paced and enjoyable to play. Kirby may suck, but “Kirby Super Star” most certainly does not.

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