Kirby Battle Royale: Early Impressions

There’s an art to making repetitive gaming fun. There’s also an art to making a demo that enticing players to play the full game. Unfortunately, Kirby Battle Royale pulls off neither.

Kirby will be making the jump to the Switch in a couple of months, but the franchise is getting one last hurrah on the 3DS with Kirby Battle Royale, a multiplayer-focused title offering gameplay that’s a strange combination of Mario Party and Mortal Kombat. I was nervous about how much mileage a player like me (who has no local friends with a 3DS) would get out of the game, and after playing through the demo a few times, I’m afraid the answer is “Not much.”

Part of this is the fault of the demo itself: The trailers showcase lots of different game modes and player abilities, but you’re limited to just three of each in the demo (and one of each has to be unlocked), and you only get to play a limited number of games per day (five single player, seven multiplayer). The single-player campaign gets a brief spotlight at the beginning of the demo, but otherwise it’s locked away completely, and you’re given little taste of how the mode will feel. (Kirby headgear customization is also missing from the demo, which makes all the competitors look and feel the same.) In short, there’s just no a lot here to judge the game, and certainly not enough to draw the player in.

Of course, a limited content release would be tolerable if the content that you got was engaging, but none of the game modes I played held my interest for very long. You’re limited to 2v2 battle royales, apple-picking contests, and a first-to-ten series of short challenges (the strangest of which is trying to stand on an area representing the correct answer to a question like “4 + 5” while trying to knock your opponent out of said area). Both the maps (small) and the controls (attacks are various combinations of the B and Y buttons) felt overly constraining, and there wasn’t any strategy involved beyond frantic button-mashing. In the end, I was just mindlessly completing the game to unlock the various modes so I could finish this review and go back to more-interesting games that got repetitive gaming right (PokémonMiitopia, etc.)

In short, Kirby Battle Royale lacked everything: Very few modes were available, and what was available didn’t hold my interest for long. Still, I’m hesitant to say “it’s not worth buying” because:

  • The demo does not give us a complete-enough picture of the game, and
  • Everything is more interesting when played with friends, right?

However, what I saw here raised a lot of questions about how good the full game is actually going to be. If you’re looking for a fun Kirby experience on the 3DS, I’d say Kirby: Planet Robobot (or even Kirby: Triple Deluxe, which is available as a Nintendo Select title for half price) is a much safer bet.