The announcement of Kirby Fighters 2 came as a surprise to everyone, including Nintendo, who accidentally revealed the game on the eShop a little earlier than intended. Just as quickly as they took the listing down, they put the game back up and shared the game’s official launch trailer.
Why not? Everyone knows about it, might as well just release it.
Developed by HAL Laboratory, Kirby Fighters 2 is available right now on the Nintendo eShop for $19.99 (USD). Speaking of HAL Laboratory, they also made 2019’s Super Kirby Clash which is free-to-play — sorry, free-to-start.
It has different Kirby types, but certainly not as many as you’ll find in Kirby Fighters 2. It also has short, fun brawls, but again, not as many as Kirby Fighters 2.
There are distinct differences between the two games, with Kirby Fighters 2 feeling closer to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate than Super Kirby Clash.
With that in mind, you may think that because you enjoy playing Kirby in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate every now and then (for fun, casually, c’mon now) that you’d also enjoy playing a variation of Smash Bros. starring Kirby and friends.
And you might be right.
Obviously hardcore Smash players aren’t going to find a lot in Kirby Fighters 2 that isn’t in Ultimate. You can play as King Dedede, Kirby, and Meta Knight in Ultimate. There’s a Story Mode in Ultimate featuring none other than Kirby himself.
But just because there are some redundancies doesn’t mean you should write Kirby Fighters 2 off entirely.
As a Smash-style fighting game, Kirby Fighters 2 feels solid when playing Battle Mode in local co-op with your friends. Online Mode against random players can be hit-or-miss.
I experienced noticeable lag during a number of matches. Not often, but enough times for it to become a point of frustration.
The matches where lag was present felt almost unplayable, and there’s no good way to concede and back out of a laggy match once you're in one. You just have to sit back and watch as your character is cut down in slow motion.
Online multiplayer is restricted to 2v2 battles. I imagine there’d be less lag risk if 1v1 was an option. Maybe.
Because it isn’t an option, the Random Match in online multiplayer will always consist of you picking a Kirby based on ability, like Water Kirby or Sword Kirby, or you picking a Buddy like Bandana Dee or Gooey.
You’ll then be randomly matched with another player who can either be Kirby or a Buddy, so you can have Kirby/Kirby teams or Buddy/Buddy teams. You’ll have to wait to be matched with three other players for a match to begin.
Because of this, matchmaking with other players can take time depending on when you’re playing the game. Fortunately, you’re given a place to practice against CPU while you wait for the matchmaking process to finish.
Once you jump into a match, you’ll need to work within the time limit (2 minutes) to knock out the two opposing players.
You can’t knock someone off a map in Kirby Fighters 2, so there are a number of instances where you can get backed into a corner if you aren’t careful.
You’ll also need to keep an eye out for map hazards. Items are included in these matches so you can heal up a little bit, or deal additional damage with items like the Mint Leaf and Mic.
If you knock out one enemy player and they knock out your teammate, the victory seems to be assigned based on who has the least amount of damage.
More often than not though, you or the enemy team will succeed in knocking each other out completely well within the 2-minute time limit.
At the end of every match you earn Fighters Points that work like XP and help you level up your Fighters Rank. The more you level up, the more in-game content you’ll unlock from new Kirby abilities to stages and hats.
There are 100 levels (Fighters Rank) in Kirby Fighters 2, 17 different Kirby abilities to unlock, and 5 Buddy types. Below, you’ll find all of the Kirby abilities and Buddy types available in Kirby Fighters 2.
- Sword Kirby
- Bomb Kirby
- Staff Kirby
- Wrestler Kirby
- Yo-Yo Kirby
- Beam Kirby
- Beetle Kirby
- Hammer Kirby
- Fighter Kirby
- Artist Kirby
- Cutter Kirby
- Whip Kirby
- Archer Kirby
- Water Kirby
- Parasol Kirby
- Ninja Kirby
- Bell Kirby
- Bandana Dee (Buddy)
- Gooey (Buddy)
- Magalor (Buddy)
- Meta Knight (Buddy, unlocked after beating Chapter 4 of Story Mode)
- King Dedede (Buddy, unlocked after beating Chapter 5 of Story Mode)
You can unlock most of these characters before reaching a Fighter Rank of 40. Some characters can only be unlocked through Story Mode like Meta Knight and King Dedede. Because of this, playing Story Mode is highly recommended.
You’ll find that the first three chapters of Story Mode are really easy… perhaps too easy.
However, if you have the patience for how button mash-y these first three chapters feel, they can be a great way to farm Fighters Points and unlock new Kirby abilities.
Chapter 4 is where things get a bit more complicated, and also where Story Mode feels at its best.
To beat Chapter 4, you’ll have to climb 30 floors and defeat Meta Knight and King Dedede who work really well together in the final boss battle of Chapter 4.
This is complemented by Chapter 5 which tasks you with climbing 50 floors while only having 3 tries or “lives” so you can replay a battle infinitely until you beat it like you can the previous four chapters.
If you run out of time, you lose one of those tries. If you and your Buddy perish in battle, you lose a try. With 50 floors to climb, you really have to save all of your tries for the final battle at the end in order to be successful.
Note that you can’t swap out your character or the Buddy you’ve chosen once you’ve selected them in Story Mode.
If you choose Sword Kirby and Bandana Dee, you’re stuck with Sword Kirby and Bandana Dee until you finish that chapter. If you accidentally pick a Kirby ability that you don’t really like you just have to live with it.
Once you grow bored of Story Mode, you can try your hand at Single-Handed Mode which is basically just one consecutive run.
Unlike Story Mode, you get to pick the difficulty of Single-Handed Mode right off the bat with three options to choose from: Easy, Medium, or Hard.
Once you decide the level of difficulty and you pick a character you’ll jump in and play back-to-back rounds. What’s nice about Single-Handed Mode is that you can play as a Buddy character if you want to.
In Story Mode, you’re restricted to just playing as Kirby whereas you can play as a Buddy character like Bandana Dee or Magolor in Single-Handed Mode.
Wrapping things up, I've been having a lot of fun with Kirby Fighters 2 and there's more to enjoy than not.
It's also $19.99 and not $59.99 which I feel is more than fair for the amount of content you're given.
I wish I could give it a higher score, closer to the 8 or 8.5 range, but because of things like the occasional laggy online multiplayer match and a Story Mode where 3 out of the 5 chapters feel button mash-y and boring, I can only in good conscience give it a 7.
- All of the Kirby abilities feel different and they can be really fun to play around with.
- Rewards given for leveling up feel generous and encourage you to keep playing the game whether you’re playing through Story Mode, Single-Handed Mode, or multiplayer.
- The combat itself is solid. In fact, many of the different Kirby types feel better to play in this game than regular Kirby does in Smash.
- Nice Kirby throwbacks in the game’s music, stages, Kirby abilities, and Buddy types like Bandana Dee and Magolor.
- Great graphics, a nice assortment of content to enjoy, and it’s got everyone’s favorite pink ball of joy, Kirby.
- Online multiplayer can be really laggy at times.
- No 1v1 available in online multiplayer, you’re stuck with 2v2 battles.
- Story Mode and Single-Handed Mode feel a little button mash-y.
- You can’t swap out the Kirby or Buddy you’ve picked in Story Mode.
Review based on a copy of Kirby Fighters 2 that I purchased for myself. I did not request a review copy.