The 'Shroom:Issue LXXV/Kirby vs. Mario
Hello readers! First off, let me congratulate the Shroom staff on this wonderful issue. Issue LXXV is a large milestone for the Shroom because it is only a quarter away from the 100th issue
Now let me give you some background information on what this article you're about to be reading for the next 30 minutes is about. For a while, this thought about a Kirby vs. Mario scenario has been brewing in my mind for the longest time, and by that I mean the past two months. At the core, both of these are two of the most recognized platformers in today’s video-game market. Both are radically different, yet their concepts remain the same. I’ve seen people on the forum, myself included, comparing the Kirby series to Mario and vice versa. I originally planned to just make this a thread on the forums, but I thought it would be better to just write it down here. Essentially, this “review” is a comparison of both series and I will be delving into different categories, from gameplay to music to extra content. This “review”, however, is more of an opinionated mess as you may soon find out. I will try to be unbiased as possible in this opinion piece…maybe…
I will be picking apart the four most recent, non-spin-off, non-compilation (Kirby's Dream Collection), 2/2.5-D platforming main games from the series.
For Mario, the four games are:
Super Mario 3D Land is not there because it is a 3D platformer. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not there because even though it was released after NSMBW, it is a 3-D platformer, not a 2.5-D platformer, although it damn feels like one half the time.
For the Kirby series, the four most recent games, all of which happen to be platformers are:
Before anyone says anything, Kirby Super Star Ultra is not a compilation of different Kirby games, but rather a remake. For Kirby Super Star Ultra, I will be focusing on the four non-unlockable sub-games that are relevant to this article (Spring Breeze, Dyna Blade, Revenge of the Meta Knight, and Milky Way Wishes).
PLEASE NOTE: I like both series and I will try to be as professional as possible. For the third time, this is NOT a review.
Now, I should begin before you guys find something more productive to do with your time!
she is taken to Bowser's castle. Mario, Luigi, and two Toads have to go save Princess Peach.
As you can see, the plotline for all these games boil down to “Mario has to go save Peach because Bowser keeps kidnapping her.” No plot twists, no game changers, no anything. Nothing remarkable, eh? Let's see the plots for the Kirby games now.
After retrieving the ship parts, Magolor takes Kirby to his homeworld, Halcandra, where they are attacked by a dragon wearing a peculiar crown. Magolor asks Kirby if he can defeat the dragon, Landia, so he could be able to fly his ship safely. Kirby agrees to do so.
After defeating Landia, the crown falls off and lands in front of the gang. Magolor drifts from the sky, takes the crown, and puts it on his head, transforming him into a monster. Magolor reveals that he used Kirby and his friends all along so that he could take over the galaxy, starting with Kirby's Planet Pop Star.
The plots of the Kirby games may not be great, but they certainly trump those of the aforementioned Mario games. They're not all about the same tired concept, although you could argue that Kirby definitely has save Dream Land about as many times as Mario has to save Peach.
Now we get into the heart of it all. Gameplay is king when it comes to video-games, as the name would imply. Your video-game can have the greatest story told to man, or it can have the music composed by Beethoven himself, but if the gameplay makes me want to break the game to pieces, you’ve got a problem.
For those of you who played the four Mario games I mentioned, you should already know that the gameplay between the three is hardly different. There’s the added multiplayer in NSMBW and NSMBU and the Boost Mode in NSMBU, but aside from that, it’s pretty much alike. The core of the gameplay in the side-scrolling Mario games is running and jumping. Most enemies can be defeated by a jump. Nearly every boss takes three hits to be defeated. Another key gameplay element in the series is the addition of power-ups, most of which make recurring appearances. The Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Mini Mushroom appear in every game on the list. The four games each have/introduce their own unique set of power-ups, however.
In general, the New Super Mario Bros. games play it safe by staying true to the original games. All characters play the same, jump the same, with no drawbacks (i.e. Luigi’s lack of traction). There are not any drastic changes to shake up the game.
However, the latest Kirby games display three different styles of gameplay.
I don't think it's hard to see which series offers the wider array of gameplay styles and elements. The Kirby series is always trying new things while the New Super Mario Bros. series is stagnant. That doesn't necessarily mean it's bad, mind you, as it is all a matter of taste anyways.
For level design, I'm going to be focusing on the theme of the worlds included in the game as well as the overall general layout.
What is it with the Lava/Fire World always being the last world in most of these platformers?
This is a personal peeve of mine. I enjoy listening to video-game music. A song in a video-game can definitely set the mood, or destroy it completely. Now this section is entirely up to your own personal opinion, but I am just going to point out the similarities between the New Super Mario Bros. series music choices and how the music in the Kirby series differs. I am not basing this on personal taste, just the selection of music that has been used in the games. Unfortunately, to avoid crashing people's computers or slowing down their internet, I have to just provide a link to the video game music I'm talking about rather than embedding them here. It's sloppy and tacky, I know, but it has to be done this way or else bad things will happen.
Here are the themes from the Desert worlds/World 2 of the four latest NSMB games:
Notice how all the music sounds alike, and how the music from New Super Mario Bros. 2 and New Super Mario Bros. U are exactly like the New Super Mario Bros. Wii theme except with minor “changes”. Granted, NSMBU changed the Plains theme and the Snow Theme, but aside from that, NSMB2 and NSMBU have next to no original soundtracks. Now let’s listen to the Kirby versions of the desert theme.
Notice how each of the three themes is not like the others, save for the typical desert-themed instruments used. Unfortunately, Kirby Super Star is not exactly split up into worlds like the other three Kirby games, and because of this, there is not exactly a desert theme. Unlike the Mario games where the desert levels only have one unique theme, the ones in the Kirby games have several unique themes, but I only provided a link to one from each, the generic desert theme to be exact, to avoid cluttering this page even more. If you are interested in hearing them, just look up a playlist or something.
Bosses are one of the key elements in many games, be it strategy games, platformer games, action-adventure, and pretty much almost every video-game genre imaginable. The bosses can really make an impression on the game, especially the final boss. I'm not exactly sure what else to put here besides more cruft, so I'll just cut straight to the point and discuss the differences between the Kirby and Mario bosses. I'm not going to drone on about each boss in each of the games, save for the final boss, but might refer to a few of them for examples. Remember, when I mentioned spoilers? This is the section I had in mind when I mentioned that. Just click this to avoid this section entirely.
Now, let's compare the Kirby series bosses:
Now I know that people are going to try to counter my point on the Kirby series by trying to point out bosses like Whispy, King Dedede, and Meta Knight have been bosses in most Kirby games to date. Whispy is more or less a tradition in a Kirby as usually the first boss you fight. He's been in every game as a boss besides Amazing Mirror, but then again a clone of him served as the boss. I don't mind it if there was a certain boss in all or most Mario games. Bowser is like, although unfortunately he's the final boss most of the time. Meta Knight was only a boss in two of the games I mentioned, extras and minigames non-withstanding. King Dedede was in three of the ones mentioned, and I guess you can make a point by saying he's “overused”. Then again, Dedede is Kirby's Bowser, but much better as he actually isn't the final boss of any of the games mentioned. Heck, if I'm correct (which I'm most likely not) Dedede hasn't been a final boss in a Kirby game since the original in 1991. Once again, this is excluding cases like Super Star Ultra's several mini games and extras and missions, which will be covered down the line. And just for comparison's sake, let's look at the final bosses.
I think it should be clear who wins in the boss category at this point.
Multiplayer has become a big selling point, and because of this, the most recent iteration of the Kirby series and most of the new New Super Mario Bros. series has it. Even though it's meant to be co-op most of the time, it will likely turn into a chaotic mess if you have friends or siblings like mine. I don't think I really need to drone on this point for too long, so I'll just explain it.
Now the Kirby series:
I think it's pretty obvious that the Mario games have the more robust multiplayer, but the Kirby series is not too far behind when trying to create an ideal multiplayer for the series though it definitely needs some tuning.
For this analysis, extras will basically be things that are not required to beat the main game. These include mini-games, extra worlds/levels, and stuff like that. Multiplayer does not count as an extra for this.
Remember, this was just my personal opinion. If you somehow managed to read this in one sitting, you need to check your priorities. But seriously, if you read the whole thing, thank you. If there are any questions you have with this or you want to critique this mess, then please do so in the forum topic for the Special Issue. Thanks.