Team Kirby Clash Deluxe is a free to play multiplayer actoin role-playing game for the Nintendo 3DS. The game takes Kirby mechanics and puts a twist on them. Instead of your usual platforming and copy abilities you instead can choose between four different classes each based on specific copy abilities. The Sword Hero is a well-rounded player that attacks with a sword and can deploy a shield that protects yourself as well as your allies. The Hammer Lord deals heavy damage with a large hammer at the cost of mobility. The Beam Mage can attack from a distance and temporarily stop time. Dr. Healmore is a healer with a few mid-range attacks to aid in combat as well. You team consists of four Kirbys that can be any of these classes. Each class will never lose their abilities and you can check their move list to see how to perform all of their attacks. The simple plot pits you against invaders of the land so it’s nothing all that new for the series but does set up a premise for the action.
You go into battles with bosses exclusively, often time being oversized versions of common enemies in the series. You have a limited amount of time to take them down. If you run out of time or all of your party members fall in battle you will lose. Typically you will hit a halfway point in the fight where the enemy becomes enraged and changing up their attacks. After this point you can knock special tablets out of them. If each characters picks one up it will trigger a quick timing-based pendulum action that will determine the damage of each character’s contribution before sending down the total of it as a meteor attack. This deals massive damage to the enemy and stuns them temporarily. You will get reward a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum medal depending on how long it takes you to win and your score will reflect this as well. You may also be completing missions along the way. Heroic missions are specialized criteria for each boss fight. You might need to win in a certain amount of time, get a certain medal, or try winning with a specific team composition, among other things. There are also some other quests that are more based on your progress, such as doing so many battles or reaching a certain level. Speaking of which, part of your reward for playing a stage is gaining experience points which will lead to you leveling up and increasing your stats. You’ll also gain materials like water fragments, fire fragments, light fragments, and rare fragments, which can be used to purchase weapons and gear in the shop at the main village before selecting more battles. These will be automatically equipped to the appropriate character classes each time unless tweaked in the pre-fight screen.
You have a few other options for changing up your battles as well. You can purchase experience boosters, attack boosters, and stamina boosters in the shop to help out before a fight. You can also call upon other players to assist you via StreetPass or the internet. This allows you to summon three random helpers to assist you in your battles. They are based on the current gear and class of other actual players, however they will be controlled by AI during the battles. You can also start wireless battles with other players locally, allowing them to control their own characters in real time. As you clear more stages you’ll unlock new areas and the ability to unlock more battles. Each battle will cost you vigor, which will be replenished upon leveling up and slowly over time with inactivity. Leveling up will also increase your maximum amount of vigor and obtaining and upgrading the Codex of Vigor will reduce the amount of time it takes to replenish vigor. You can also buy and upgrade a codex for each of the fire, water, and light fragments to increase their drop rates. There’s also a place in the main hub where you can scan in amiibo for extra fragments daily and a place to enter passwords for secret bonuses. Now I think we need to mention the big free to play element. Gem apples.
Gem apples are the freemium currency of the game. You can obtain them twice a day from the gem apple tree in the main hub, which will actually grow if you use real money to purchase certain amounts of extra gem apples. You can also get them from completing missions and quests. Gem apples are used for many things in the game. You can use them to extend the timer in a battle if it runs out. You can use them to revive all of your party members if they all go down in battle. You can use them to restore vigor instantly. You can use them for purchasing the consumables in the shop. You can even use them to summon more adventurers per day. However, you will more or less NEED them for other things as well. You need gem apples along with fragments to purchase new weapons and gear. You need gem apples to unlock certain battles, which you’ll need to do in order to clear them and unlock further areas. And you need gem apples to purchase and upgrade each codex. Basically, you can use them to make things go faster but you’ll also need them for progression. After completing all of the levels, you beat the game.
Honestly, it’s sort of a mixed experience. The beginning of the game is pretty promising. The interesting take on Kirby mechanics and the use of its aesthetic are pretty appealing. You get lots of vigor, gem apples, and guided gameplay to help get you hooked. And once the game lets go of the reigns it has a nice amount of depth trying to figure out how to best tackle each boss with different team compositions. Do you need more damage? Maybe more healing. Is it better to handle a role yourself or let the AI do it? All kinds of slight changes can impact your times enough to make a difference in the medal you earn. It’s also neat taking on the more specific challenges of using certain classes to clear a stage. The heroic missions, along with the medals and high scores, do offer some nice replayability. And all the experience and leveling make most of the game feel like it’s progressing even if you’re failing to meet other goals. Plus, I want to give the game some credit for having an actual ending to it rather than being designed as a never-ending money maker like most free to play games. So it offers up a lot of potential, and it’s free.
The issues come in around the mid to late game. See, around the middle of the game I found myself mostly just level grinding to increase my stats while I saved gem apples for unlocking new levels. This lead to a lot of mindless battles between a few limited attempts per day at getting more heroic missions done. Since hitting the level cap, I’ve mostly just been checking in daily to get my free gem apples and waiting until I have enough to get the gear I need in order to attempt some of the remaining missions. I have my fragments almost always maxed out, but no apples to be able to do anything with them. As if it’s not bad enough that they recycle the bosses multiple times in the game, it gets pretty tedious replaying them over and over again when just barely missing the requirements for some of the missions. Overall, the biggest issue is the gem apple situation. The fact that you need so many of them and receive so few makes the game turn into a big fat paywall at the end. You might be hooked by then, but the lack of being able to do anything for long periods of time might just lead to a disinterest in completing the game. It would cost a lot to make it go more smoothly, but that takes away from the free part of the free to play game. So while it does okay for the first chunk of hours, the mid to late game becomes a grindy waiting room for progress. It’s a shame because this could’ve been a cool game if it was flashed out as a full price release, perhaps with an actual looting system and adventuring segments thrown in between bosses.
I’d also like to mention that I was unable to play the wireless multiplayer. In this mode you can play in real time with other players locally, but I didn’t have anyone to play with. I imagine it would make coordination a lot easier and could lead to a lot of more interesting battles. I suppose it’s also a low barrier of entry if you all own a 3DS already as the game is free. So I think it could be a cool feature, I just never got the opportunity to check it out. Sorry about that.
Team Kirby Clash Deluxe is not bad for a free to play game. It’s fun for more time than I expected, and it has some interesting ideas that can keep you hooked for a while. It even has an ending that will keep the more casual players feeling fulfilled while the completionists have plenty to keep coming back for. It does fall victim to the design flaws of the free to play model and will likely become more of a chore than game by the end, but it’s worth giving this one a shot for the amount of time it stays fun. Team Beam Mage all fight every fight, baby!