Released without a lot of fanfare, Kirby Fighters 2 for the Nintendo Switch crept up on us when it was released last week. It’s a fun introduction to the fighting genre for younger players though, and definitely worth a look.
I’d imagine that a lot of players aren’t too familiar with the original Kirby Fighters either, as it was just one of the game modes in Kirby: Triple Deluxe on the 3DS – though an improved standalone version was released for the same platform later. Just as with the original game mode and subsequent re-release, Kirby Fighters 2 is essentially a take on the Super Smash Brothers formula geared at younger players – providing the kind of accessible gameplay the Kirby franchise has always been known for.
The similarity to Super Smash Brothers isn’t a coincidence of course, as developer HAL Laboratory is responsible for both franchises. Kirby Fighters 2 isn’t a simple copy/paste job though, and it’s much-improved over the original 3DS release. Four player local co-op play is now possible thanks to the Switch, and you select fighters from a relatively small roster of characters from the Kirby franchise – a few of them being different Kirby variations.
This is an improvement over the original game though, in which supporting cast members like Bandana Waddle Dee and Gooey weren’t available as playable characters. You also get more stages this time as well as more copy abilities. It’s not Super Smash Brothers in terms of content, but Kirby Fighter 2 is still a game at a budget price point.
The game includes a single player campaign mode that was modeled after a classic arcade-style ladder experience, but the emphasis – as with SSB – is on the multiplayer portion of the game. This is true even to the degree that Kirby is paired up with another fighter in the campaign (with true solo play unlocking later), as you tackle familiar enemies and bosses as things gradually become more challenging even though you unlock power-ups along the way. Boss fights can be especially tricky for younger players, offering up way more of a challenge than any of the regular fights.
There is a range of multiplayer options to choose from, with local multiplayer on a single screen being supported as well as local play through linked up Switch consoles. In addition, you can also go online and duke it out there, but Kirby Fighters 2 is most enjoyable when played locally in team-based modes. A round doesn’t end when a fighter is knocked out of the arena either, which helps those less skilled to survive for longer. The same is true for the actual fighting, where players can successfully resort to button mashing if they want to.
If you’re looking for a fighting game with complex mechanics you won’t find it here, but surprisingly enough there is still plenty of room to strategize a little beyond simply slugging it out. When playing together, you can corner an opponent between the two of you and time your blows so there’s no chance to escape, and grabbing the right pickups at the right time can also make a big difference. It’s never super deep, but more experienced players will still find ways to mix things up and cooperate with another player or lend a helping hand.
There are plenty of unlockables as well, although I’d imagine trying to grind it all out would feel like a very repetitive experience. Kirby Fighters 2 is a fun and accessible little arena brawler that’s great for those not quite ready for Super Smash Brothers, and for those looking to play together with that target audience.