Launched following last week’s Nintendo Direct, Super Kirby Clash is a free-to-play multiplayer game pitting multicolored Kirbys in medieval cosplay against massive bosses. I love the battles, but the game’s economy and endless upgrade cycle have me wondering how long that love will last.
Nintendo calls Super Kirby Clash a free-to-start game, which is a fancy way of saying free-to-play without actually saying it. Anyone with a Nintendo Switch can jump onto the eShop, download the game, and hop into its odd class-based action role-playing boss battles without spending money.
The game opens on a small, side-scrolling village. Here, the player, a proper pink Kirby, can shop for equipment, use the adventurer bell to receive gifts from other players, or embark on quests, either online with other players or offline with AI adventurers.
By quests, I mean battles. Players choose which of the game’s four character classes they wish to play as—Sword Hero, Hammer Lord, Doctor Healmore, or Beam Mage—and hop into an all-out melee against King Doo, Hornhead, Mr. Frosty, giant Waddle Dees, or any number of trademark Kirby foes.
The fights are a lot of fun, especially with four human players working together. The Sword Hero slices and shields while the Beam Mage casts slowing magic. Doctor Healmore drops puddles of healing magic. The slow-moving Hammer Lord swings its mallet for massive damage. When an enemy gets beaten down enough it drops four shards, one for each player, that when collected trigger a quick mini-game that brings a massive meteor smashing down on their foe.
Super Kirby Clash isn’t quite as engaging outside of battles. The game runs on a currency called Gem Apples, and it never lets you forget that. Gem Apples are used to unlock quests. Gem Apples are used to purchase equipment and unlock character enhancing perks. If your party runs out of time in a fight or everyone gets knocked out, Gem Apples can be spent to revive everyone.
There’s a tree in the village where players can harvest Gem Apples twice a day. Leveling up the tree causes it to drop more Gem Apples when harvested. Guess how to level up the tree. That’s right, buying more Gem Apples.
Then there is the game’s upgrade cycle. Players fight battles and complete quest goals to increase their Heroic Rank. Increasing one’s Heroic Rank unlocks more powerful gear and raises the maximum level the player can reach. New weapons and equipment cost a combination of resources earned through quests and Gem Apples (of course).
Quest, level, buy new equipment, quest, level, repeat. I’ve been playing Super Kirby Clash for days and I see no end to that cycle.
I still enjoy the battles. I’ve seen others complain of horrible connection lag but have only experienced it once out of a couple dozen online fights. I’m still getting a kick out of seeing all of these colorful Kirbys waddling around swinging swords and casting spells. It’s like the most adorable LARP ever. I just can’t help wondering how long until the charm wears off.
Update 9/10 11 AM: As several commenters have mentioned, this is an enhanced port of Team Kirby Clash Deluxe for the 3DS, which came out in 2017 when I wasn’t looking. Poor 3DS.