Kirby's Super Star Stacker
  • Genre:
    • Puzzle
  • Platform:
    • Super Famicom
  • Developer:
    • HAL
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 02/01/1998
Score: 70%

This review was published on 10/25/2016.

Kirby no Kirakira Kizzu, which roughly translates to Kirby's Sparkling Kids, is a falling blocks puzzle video game published by Nintendo and developed by HAL Laboratory for the Super Famicom. It was exclusively released in Japan on February 1, 1998. The game was initially distributed through the Japan exclusive Nintendo Power service, which allowed consumers to download Super Famicom and Game Boy games onto special flash memory cartridges at a reduced price. This could be done at kiosks that were available at select stores. However, the game still did get a standard cartridge release a year later. There were plans for a North American release, but they were halted after Nintendo of America stopped shipping Super Nintendo games in 1997. Outside Japan, the game is sometimes known as Kirby's Super Star Stacker, though that isn't its official title. The reason some call it this name is because this game is basically a remake of another game called Kirby's Star Stacker, which was released for the Game Boy in Japan, North America, and Europe in 1997. If you liked that game, then you'll probably like this.

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Like many Tetris clones, this game involves blocks that fall from the top of the screen to the bottom. Two blocks attached to each other will fall down at a time and you control their descent with the d-pad and rotate them with the buttons. There are three types of blocks, all of which are modeled after Kirby's animal friends. If you match two or more of the same block either vertically or horizontally, they'll be cleared from the screen. In addition to the three animal block types, there are also star blocks. Sandwiching two of the same animal blocks between multiple star blocks will clear them all, which gives you more points. Chaining the elimination of blocks will also cause stars to fall, potentially causing even more chains to occur. There are also occasionally hard blocks that must be cleared twice, and bomb blocks that clear entire rows. As with all games of this sort, you lose if the screen gets filled with too many blocks. If you know Japanese, you can learn all of this information in the game's optional tutorial.

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There are a number of modes available, one of them being the standard endless mode that's in most falling blocks puzzle games. In this mode, you try to clear as many star blocks as you can before losing in an attempt to achieve the highest score possible. There are multiple difficulties to choose from, but regardless of what you pick, this mode will slowly get more difficult the longer you play it. Blocks will begin to fall faster, plus the speed at which additional rows of blocks appear at the bottom of the screen will increase. The aforementioned hard blocks will also eventually start appearing to make life that much harder. There's really not that much more to this mode than that. Every puzzle game has to have a mode like this. It's the law.

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You've also got a time attack mode. This mode isn't about getting the best times, however. Instead, you've got precisely three minutes to clear as many star blocks as you can. Similar to the endless mode, the goal is simply to get the highest score possible. Like the other modes, you have a number of difficulties to choose from. However, just like the equivalent time attack mode in Kirby's Star Stacker, you can't change the time limit. That limitation makes this mode have a very limited appeal. You'll probably tire of it after a few minutes; three, to be exact. It may be possible to eke out a little more play time by trying the other difficulties, but they're still three minutes apiece.

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Another mode to make its return from Kirby's Star Stacker is the round clear one. This mode tasks you with clearing a certain amount of star blocks per round. Usually, the higher rounds require that you clear more star blocks. As with the endless mode, you're able to select from a number of difficulties, and the higher difficulties have more rounds to clear, in addition to being generally harder. Because there's an actual victory condition to this mode, it gives a general sense of progression that's absent in the endless mode. As a result of that, the round clear mode is far more engaging. It's not the most engaging mode this game has to offer, though. That honor goes to this game's story mode.

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Unlike the Kirby's Star Stacker on the Game Boy, this game actually has a proper story mode. Prior to starting it, you'll get a sequence of still images with text explaining the story. Similarly, there are short scenes like this before each stage. As for how it plays, the story mode consists of one-on-one matches against different computerized opponents of varying difficulties. The objective of these matches is to make the opponent lose by filling their screens with blocks. To accomplish this devious deed, you have to clear lots of star blocks and get plenty of chain clears. Doing so will send blocks to the opponent's side of the screen. The opponent can do the same to you, however. There's also a two player mode that's basically the same thing, except you can play with another human being. Since this version of the game isn't on a Game Boy, you won't have to worry about Link Cables to play versus mode. This and the story mode are the two main highlights of the game.

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The verdict is that this game is superior to its Game Boy counterpart in just about every way, except for portability. The Game Boy version still wins on that front, obviously. This version has better graphics, better music, a story mode, and you don't need a Link Cable to play the two player mode. It would have been nice if this version of the game got released outside Japan, though its loss to the Western world isn't a major one. At the end of the day, this is just another Tetris clone.

Word Count: 1,027

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