'Kirby Fighters 2' Review: Fun, Simple Fighting Game Is Worth a Look for Kirby Fans

7.0/10 - Nintendo Switch

Kirby Fighters 2 is what you get if you played Super Smash Bros., but the only character was Kirby... well, Kirby and his various abilities.

While that sounds novel or gimmicky, Kirby Fighters 2 brings a lot of what makes Super Smash Bros.' gameplay fun and addictive, and stuffs it into a pink, puffball for Nintendo Switch owners to enjoy.

Kirby has had a lot of memorable abilities through the years, and if you've ever fantasized about a fighting game that spotlights each one, then this title is definitely for you. Putting out a fighter with just Kirby characters and abilities is an odd choice, but one that surprisingly works—if expectations are tempered.

Kirby Fighters 2 was developed by HAL Labs, the same studio that developed many of the older Super Smash Bros. games, and because of that, much of the gameplay is very similar. In fact, Kirby Fighters 2 feels like an arcade version of Super Smash Bros.—in that it seems like a truncated version of a fighting game, one that eliminates some aspects of the console release.

And if you think of Kirby Fighters 2 as that, it delivers in spades. If you've come for a multi-layered fighting game, though, with hours of gameplay, then you'll be sorely disappointed.

kirby fighters 2 box art
Nintendo

GAMEPLAY

If you're familiar with how Super Smash Bros. plays, you'll likely pick up Kirby Fighters 2 quickly.

There are only four inputs to remember in all (attack, special, block, inhale/throw), and when you combine them with directional pads you'll perform various moves. Each Kirby ability plays in different ways, with close-combat abilities like the Fighter or Beetle being keen on quick strikes and grapples, while long-range abilities like the Yo-Yo, Beam and Bomb change it up.

There are some more advanced moves, like rolling out while blocking, that can help you get out of corners or avoid long-range attacks, and your block is metered so you can't block infinitely. Besides that, the gameplay in Kirby Fighters 2 is rather simple and easy to pick up if you've never played this style of fighter before.

Gameplay is also reliant on item drops and stage hazards. You'll see food dropping that can restore health for you and your partner, or various items that can help turn the tide in battle.

Stage hazards like runaway trains and lava plumes, meanwhile, will force players to keep an eye on more than just their opponents.

Speaking of stages and how the game compares to Smash, there are no cliffs or launching KOs—you defeat an opponent by bringing their health to zero. However, even then, that doesn't necessarily guarantee a victory. If you're playing against more than one opponent, if one of them is KO'd and the other isn't, they can return as a ghost and be revived. By simply landing an attack on an opponent that, ghost can be revived with a small amount of health.

This gives players a second-chance to turn the tides of battle and it's something that has saved me a few times in my fight up the towers.

STORY AND SINGLE-PLAYER

The story of Kirby Fighters 2 is simple, even by Kirby game standards. You team up with another Kirby or partner like Waddle Dee to take on opponents in a ladder-style tower. There are no cutscenes, but the narration is done via text as you make your way to the top of each tower, where you'll take on King Dedede and Meta Knight.

There are four towers (or chapters) to this story, each increasing the number of levels to complete and the difficulty.

While there's plenty of brawling elements in Kirby Fighters 2, there is some strategy to be had. After each completed stage, players will be tasked with picking an item that gives modifiers. Some modifiers increase your overall health, attack power, while others help players take less damage from various stage hazards and items. This is a neat wrinkle in the tower battle structure, as you'll have to choose between three—and sometimes four—modifiers to help you complete the tower.

Unfortunately, some of these modifiers are not the greatest and as you make your way to the boss, many of them become way more important than others.

While the stages before a boss are rather simple, especially if you're playing with an AI who is very competent in battle, the boss battles themselves see a massive difficulty spike that is very jarring, especially for those who have just started.

Bosses don't get staggered like regular opponents, so they'll launch attacks even if you're in the middle of a flurry of strikes. You'll also need to avoid their attacks—luckily, you can pick up on the pattern rather quickly. However, their insane amount of health, coupled with a time limit, make these battles difficult and at times even frustrating.

I've lost some boss battles because I ran out of time, although I was nowhere near close to having my health depleted. This really puts an emphasis on increasing your attack power to deal more damage more quickly, or gaining modifiers that increase the amount of time you have in each stage.

Another head-scratching decision comes in the final tower, which includes 50 levels; if you lose three times, you have to start from the beginning. In the other three towers, you can restart as often as you'd like by losing some of your high score, but with this final tower, you really have to master all your abilities, as well as choose the right modifiers to get through all 50 levels.

It's a challenge, for sure, but one that can be very irritating if you've made it to the final boss only to lose all your retries.

kirby fighters 2 screenshot wrestler
Nintendo

OTHER MODES

Aside from the story mode, you can also play in "Single Handed Mode," which pits you against waves of enemies without a partner. There's some replay value here, as you can go back after losing to beat your high score.

And then there's the online mode, in which you can team up with a stranger to take on two others or create a group to take on friends online. While battling random players online is a hassle, as you'd expect from Nintendo's online service, taking on friends in your own room is a bit better.

However, playing the story in co-op or battling it out in local multiplayer is the way to go with Kirby Fighters 2.

Another cool aspect to keep you playing is the Fighter Rank. This metric increases as you play every mode in the game. Every level increase unlocks new Kirby abilities, stages and much more. It's a great incentive to keep playing.

VERDICT

Overall, Kirby Fighters 2 is a fun, simple fighting game that players of all levels can hop into. While the story itself is lackluster, the ladder-style battles can really get you hooked and having some strategy with your modifier selection gives the gameplay some depth.

Time limits and jarring difficulty spikes do hold back the fighting experience, but the overall gameplay isn't affected.

Kirby Fighters 2 does lack some replayability and playing online isn't ideal, but the experience is one to check out if you're looking for an inexpensive new fighting game.

Kirby Fighters 2 is available for Nintendo Switch digitally for $19.99.