Kirby Fighters 2, the new “eat em up” on the Nintendo Switch, came as something of a surprise. From an apparent leak to a full reveal and release in just under 24 hours, we suddenly had a new budget fighting game to try out. While it might seem dismissive to refer to Kirby’s newest adventure as Smash Bros. Lite, that is exactly what this is. Anyone with experience of Nintendo’s fighting game series will be right at home with Kirby Fighters 2. It doesn’t have the depth of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but it also doesn’t have the price tag, coming in at a cool $20.
The main focus of Kirby Fighters 2 is 2v2 combat. In both the singleplayer and multiplayer modes, you will be trying to smack around enemies in exciting and sometimes delightful levels. The combat system itself is pretty simple, focusing on a standard attack, charged attacks, some jumping, and some throwing. While it doesn’t possess the nuance of a full-blown fighting game, there are still plenty of fun interactions for people to take advantage of if they are playing with a friend.
Items will drop during fights, allowing you to heal, throw bombs, or even run around holding a cannon that will fire explosives at your enemies. Even the levels themselves can add to the variety, as some will have an interactive element like a giant robot trying to crush the players. It helps to add variety to each fight and is actually a pretty fun inclusion in the game.
The singleplayer campaign is an interesting timesink. You and a computer-controlled buddy will need to climb to the top of a tower to take on King Dedede and Meta Knight. Each floor is a fight against other characters, and every fifth floor is a boss fight. Healing between floors is limited, but you can take advantage of heals during fights to keep your HP bar nice and full. As you win fights and climb higher, you earn experience allowing you to rank up, unlocking new items or fighters in the game. You will also be able to pick powerups that increase your health, attack power, or other attributes.
There are 18 fighters to unlock, including buddy fighters, and each one has its own style of fighting. Most of them are based on different versions of Kirby and some will be armed with swords, spears, or magic. Despite the reasonably shallow combat systems, each one feels unique and will appeal to fans of different styles of fighting. You can also unlock Meta Knight and King Dedede to add some solid variety to your roster.
The only aspect fo the singleplayer campaign that I disliked is what felt like some artificial padding. You will already be playing it a lot to try and unlock all the different fighters, so having each successful boss fight reset you to the start of the tower feels a little unnecessary. This would feel a little smoother if you could simply move on to the next floor instead of starting from the bottom again as a new chapter.
Musically and graphically, the game is a joy to play. It runs at 60 FPS, which is vital for a fighting game, even a more casual one like this. The soundtrack is upbeat and engaging, containing loads of that lovely Nintendo charm, and visually everything looks vibrant and lively, as you would expect from a Kirby title.
As far as downsides, boss variety could be better, remappable controls would more than likely broaden the game’s appeal to a broader audience, and I am sure people would have appreciated the chance to take part in 1v1 online fights. Truthfully, it feels a little mean to beat up a $20 game for not being a $60 game that it was never meant to be.
Kirby Fighters 2 is aimed at an audience that skews a little younger and a great deal more casual that even the average Smash Bros. fan, and what it does wonderfully well is provide an accessible, engaging, and fun fighting game that almost anyone can pick up and enjoy. It’s not going to usurp Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in the pantheon of Switch fighting games, but it might just be the perfect gateway for people to walk through on their way to going full Falco.
8 / 10
|+||The combat system is just deep enough to be interesting.|
|+||A great game for kids who might be a little too young for more complex fighters.|
|+||A fun, but slightly grindy singleplayer mode adds plenty of replayability.|
|+||For just $20 it’s hard to go wrong.|
|–||If you are big into Smash Bros., this won’t provide the complex alternative you may be searching for.|