Kirby Air Ride Review

Developer: HAL Laboratory Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: October 13, 2003 Also On: None

Simplicity seems to be Nintendo’s strong suit these days. Nintendo’s latest, Kirby Air Ride, is quite frankly the epitome of simple. HAL Laboratory obviously holds the same philosophy, since they were the ones who actually developed this title. I’m a person who likes things simple, however, there is a major difference between Kindergarten simple and college graduate simple. Kirby’s Air Ride might actually fall into preschool simple, that’s if a preschooler can move a joystick and tap the A button here and there.

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Kirby’s Air Ride was originally slated for the N64 several years ago, before it was scrapped. In fact, I have heard that it was supposed to be one of two launch titles for the N64, alongside Super Mario 64. While the idea is still the same; control a pink puffball through unpredictable 3D courses, Kirby Air Ride has been graphically overhauled. Kirby Air Ride actually has many touches of SSBM to it, such as the menu systems. As in SSBM, players can unlock things by accomplishing specific tasks within each level.

Kirby is designed to be accessible for all ages. It works well to a certain degree, other than older gamers will be turned off by its easy dynamics. You could literally start a game, set down the controller and still finish the race, possibly ranked. This kind of difficulty is not appealing at all, in fact, it is what makes this game so unattractive to adults. All you need to know is when to turn the analog stick in order to steer your Kirby. The only other button used is A, which, when pressed down, slows Kirby down and when released, gives off a temporary speed boost. It is helpful sometimes to slow down around corners, but only ones that are extremely sharp, otherwise it will do nothing more than help your opponents gain time on you.

Controls are simple, but depending on what craft you use will determine how fast it moves, how well it turns, and its glide. While some crafts are extremely tight, others are polar opposites, extremely loose and unresponsive. The box car-type craft (what I call the cardboard box) can barely turn at all, unless you are almost completely stopped. The varieties of crafts are greatly welcome, but each craft is unbalanced, leaving slower crafts in the dust and fast crafts in winner’s circle.

While tracks are appealing to the eye, they have few secret paths and leave little room for speeding past an opponent due to how you perform on the track, instead it mainly depends on your craft’s attributes. Earlier I stated that you could place your controller down and still finish, now I will touch up on exactly why that is. Kirby Air Ride leaves little to no room on each course to fall off. In fact, unless you are literally a novice, which is mainly the only way, you could ever fall off any of the courses available. Instead, you just bounce off walls, continuing forward and glide on rails, no skill needed.

Kirby (like in all Kirby games) can suck enemies into his mouth and absorb some of their powers, whether it is a fire ball or a sword, reminiscent of Link’s. The problem with this is, once again, it is too simple. Using the fire ball will take a simple tap of A and the sword automatically attacks enemies when they near you. This proves to be a problem when you want to turn a corner, since you use your weapon while slowing down or while on a straightaway, you slow down while using your weapon. Let us see, the GCN has a D-Pad (4 buttons), A, B, Y, X, L, R, and Z button. Why couldn’t they have one of those buttons be used to slow down (preferably A) and another (preferably B) to use a weapon? Any sense of purpose can be thrown out the window because of both the simplicity and the half-assed control layout, leaving gamers with nothing more than frustration. In the end of the day, only three game modes and an insanely simplistic and idiotic control layout will leave gamers wondering, why the hell did I rent/purchase this?

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 3
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 5.7
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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