A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Super Kirby Clash is a downloadable free-to-play action game for the Nintendo Switch. Working alone or in teams of up to four (locally or online) players choose a character and accept missions to fight monsters using swords, hammers, and magic. There's no blood or gore, and enemies simply disappear once defeated. Motivation to continue playing comes from a progression system in which players level up and purchase better gear to become stronger. The gameplay encourages players to spend real-world money in order to progress more quickly. It's possible to play without spending any money, but players can speed up their progression via in-game microtransactions that trigger faster experience gains and quicker access to more powerful weapons and armor.
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What's it about?
SUPER KIRBY CLASH isn't your typical Kirby game focused on running, jumping action and simple ability-based puzzles. Instead, it's focused on a never-ending series of boss battles that players take on in teams of up to four. Your teammates can be controlled by the computer, local friends playing on one or more Switch systems, or online friends and strangers. To begin a battle, players need to simply steer Kirby towards a message board in the main hub area and select a mission. You'll choose your role -- you can wield a sword, a hammer, offensive magic, or healing magic -- and your gear, then head into combat against a powerful monster. Fights take place within small, two-dimensional arenas where Kirby and his friends run around and attack a monster while healing each other. The quicker and more efficiently you beat the boss, the better your reward will be. These include a currency called gem apples, as well as resource fragments necessary to purchase better weapons, armor, upgrades, and emotive stickers. You can significantly speed up progress by purchasing gem apples with real money, but nothing is kept out of reach for players who choose to spend nothing and progress more slowly.
Is it any good?
A free to play adventure game sounds like a no-lose proposition, but this isn't a typical adventure game from this popular franchise. Unlike traditional Kirby games, which tend to wow players with their innovative art design, clever play, and gentle vibe, Super Kirby Clash is focused on boss battle combat and a never-ending quest to progress and grow in power. The fights aren't any more intense than in other Kirby games, but without Kirby's ability to suck up enemies and take on their powers -- all he can really do is swing his currently equipped weapon or cast a spell -- it begins to feel repetitive before too long. There's an element of strategy that can be exploited by players working in teams and using their role's specific abilities to effectively assist teammates, but it's pretty basic, verging on non-existent if other players don't cooperate. Most battles are won simply by hammering the attack button and dodging or guarding against enemy attacks at the right moment. And while it's nice that you can play offline with the help of AI teammates, you'll experience more success and progress more quickly if you play with friends or strangers online.
The focus on microtransactions also sends up a red flag, though it's worth noting that you never need to spend to progress. You can always keep moving forward -- even if it's slow at times -- so long as you have patience. More or less. If you run out of vigor, you'll need to wait for it to recharge before taking on another battle, but the good news is that this is a game best played in short bursts in order to keep a sense of repetition from setting in. Super Kirby Clash's free-to-play model means there's not much risk in giving it a shot, but parents should be cautious when providing kids access to in-game transactions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about cyberbullying. Super Kirby Clash's online interactions are restricted to limit the chance of any unfriendly encounters, but have you ever played a game where you felt other players were being mean or pushy? How did you choose to respond?
What sort of advantages come with taking on challenges as part of a team? Are there any drawbacks?
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