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Kirby Star Allies is a platform game developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo as part of the Kirby series. It was released worldwide on the Nintendo Switch on 16 March 2018 and released a full version with extra modes and new characters on 30 November 2018. The game has sold 2.56 million copies as of March 2019, making it one of the best-selling games on the Switch. It received mixed or average reviews. Praise went to the game's graphics, gameplay, and soundtrack, but received criticism for its very easy difficulty level.
Kirby Star Allies is a 2.5D platform game played from a side-on perspective. Players control the series' titular protagonist Kirby who can be accompanied by up to three companions. Kirby can throw hearts at enemies to turn them into allies. The game can be played alone with the game's AI controlling companions or cooperatively with other players controlling companions. When Kirby has companions, new special attacks become available which allow Kirby to combine his abilities with those of his allies, a feature not seen since Kirby: Squeak Squad. The elemental fusions last for as long as the power is held or until a new element is introduced over it, while some of the combinations are single-use moves that bear more of a resemblance to the combinations found in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Also, when Kirby has three allies, they can perform "Friend Actions" on specific stages, like "Friend Train" and "Friend Star." To fight the final boss, Kirby can use a Friend Action called the "Star Allies Sparkler", which resembles to the Dragoon from Kirby Air Ride. With it, Kirby can traverse around the boss in full 3D - a rarity for the series - and shoot targets of interest.
The game also introduces the "Dream Friend" system, which allows the player to call upon characters from past Kirby games as special allies with expanded move sets. Bandana Waddle Dee, King Dedede, and Meta Knight can all be unlocked as Dream Friends through progression in Story Mode. Additional Dream Friends have been added via software updates, including Rick, Kine and Coo (Dream Land 2); Marx (Super Star); Gooey (Dream Land 3); Adeleine & Ribbon (64); Dark Meta Knight (Amazing Mirror); Daroach (Squeak Squad); Magolor (Return to Dream Land); Taranza (Triple Deluxe); Susie (Planet Robobot); and the Three Mage-Sisters (Francisca, Flamberge, and Zan Partizanne).
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Development and release
Kirby Star Allies was developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo. The game is thought to be based upon the first incarnation of the canceled Kirby game for the Nintendo GameCube, the trailer for which shows Kirby making multiple helpers, akin to the fundamental element of Star Allies. The game was initially teased under the tentative title Kirby during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017. In September 2017, the game's official title was announced during a Nintendo Direct presentation. The game was released for the Nintendo Switch game console on 16 March 2018. On 3 March 2018, a free demo of the game was released on the Nintendo eShop showcasing two of the game's stages.