In case you haven’t heard, I love Kirby. During the other day’s Direct a new, “free to start” title hit the eShop based on one of the Dream Land super star’s subgames, so naturally I jumped at the chance to download it. Team Kirby Clash Deluxe is an updated and expanded version of Team Kirby Clash from Kirby: Planet Robobot, which was my favorite of the subgames that time around. Anyone who’s played that, or even Triple Deluxe, will be right at home with the feel of this spin-off, though there are also references to and enemies from other Kirby games. So as far as Kirby fanservice goes, they’ve already got me.

Team Kirby Clash Deluxe is set up as a fantasy RPG, with Kirby as the hero questing across the land. There are four, slightly altered copy abilities to choose from: Sword, Hammer, Beam, and Doctor. Each one has different strengths and weaknesses, as well as special abilities, and as a whole they compliment each other well. They generally fill the roles of RPG staples, such as Beam standing in for a mage and Doctor being the cleric. While it would have been great to see other, fitting abilities (such as Fighter to represent a monk class or a Ninja thief) there’s still enough nuance with all four to keep me invested in learning their ins and outs. Beam Mage has to be my favorite though, allowing for a time stop effect if enough charged up strikes are landed.

Once you’ve set up your group of Kirbys it’s time to quest, though these really only boil down to fighting Kirby bosses and minibosses within a set time limit. They’re powered up compared to their home games, so the ideal situation is with four players all together fighting and communicating. Once a quest has ended, you gather up EXP and resources after each fight. These allow you to power up your Kirbys in order to face tougher quests with bigger and better rewards. It can get somewhat repetitive, and as the game is tied to a “stamina bar” system you’ll eventually reach a point where you can’t play for a while unless you spend in game resources.

The core of the game’s “economy”, so to speak, are Gem Apples. These are the main quest rewards, with a few free ones also available to be harvested every twelve hours. While they’ll feel plentiful at first, eventually the rate of acquisition will depend on your ability to complete difficult quests to then use the rewarded Apples to unlock more quests. You could always wait for the free, twice a day harvests but eventually the amount needed grows well past that. They can also be purchased with real money to speed up the process. I picked up the smallest amount available, which was 50 Apples at a one time special of $0.49. The reasoning is that once you’ve bought 50 Apples the harvest size grows from five to eight, leading to more Apples overall. You also get extras when purchased on Sundays, so anyone enjoying the early parts of the game may want to consider the small fee.

So that sounds reasonable on paper, and nothing absolutely requires that you buy these Gem Apples. That said, by the midpoint of the game the amount of Apples it takes to progress versus how many you can gain eventually leads to frequent bouts of replaying that same missions to get stronger, to then take on more difficult quests that still have Apples to unlock. It’s definitely repetitive, and the stamina bar doesn’t do that any favors. There’s a weapon and armor shop as well and while I love the aesthetics of the gear, Kirby’s no stranger to fine headwear after all, the cost of the equipment grows considerably over time. Again, with enough patience you can get enough Apples via the free daily harvests but the game just isn’t engaging enough to hold most players to that point. Consider yourself warned, completionists.

Further Gem Apple purchases will increase the harvest size again, and in all honesty the price point (especially the currently discounted rates) aren’t terrible. I can see myself paying about five dollars for the game as is, or even eight (as other, similar Kirby subgame upgrades have been priced) if it did away with the Gem Apple need-to-acquisition ratio. It’s just a shame that in the time my interest will be held by the game I won’t be able to experience all of the content unless I decide to put out a higher amount of money than I’m willing to pay, even as a diehard Kirby fan.

I absolutely recommend downloading and playing Team Kirby Clash Deluxe. I’ve been enjoying the gameplay itself, leveling up my Kirby, and gathering as much of the (adorable) equipment as I can. Just go in with your expectations in check and know that it’ll take either a lot of time or a handful of cash to unlock all it has to offer. If anything else, it’s a fun little game to check in on while you’re going about your day; a bite sized treat that Kirby himself would certainly eat if offered but would never leave Nintendo’s number one snack-swallower fully satisfied.

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Written by Ricky Berg

When he isn’t writing for Nintendo Wire, Ricky’s anticipating the next Kirby, Fire Emblem, or if the stars ever align, Mother 3 to be released. Till then he’ll have the warm comfort of Super Smash Bros. to keep him going.

Ricky Berg