Friday, January 21, 2011
Kirby Air Ride Review
By 2003, Kirby had become a Nintendo icon. He had a host of games, a playable-character role in the Super Smash Bros. series, and now even had his own anime. So it was obvious Nintendo would bring the little guy to their next-gen console, the Nintendo Gamecube. But instead of a platforming adventure, HAL created the first-ever Kirby racing games, and it ended up being the finest entry in the series.
Kirby Air Ride takes a lot from the Smash Bros. plate: the menu screens look almost the same, and it supports 4-player competition. The controls are extremelly simple: Control Stick to steer, A to hold down a boost and take on tight corners. This makes the game acessable to all audiences, but still has a lot of content for the experienced gamer; mostly because there are over 20 Air Ride machines, all of which control in their own special ways and have different strengths and weaknesses.
There are three modes to this game: Air Ride, Top Ride, and City Trial. Air Ride comprises of 10 tracks and is a good place to test your skills. These 10 tracks get kinda boring after awhile, but you can do Time Trials of these courses. Kirby's ability-copying in integrated in this mode by swallowing up enemies on the side of the track and taking their powers, acting much like the Mario Kart Item Boxes. Top Ride plays like the top-down racers of old, and has a much bigger emphasis on Item usage. They range from a cake that makes you huge to a giant cloud that zaps anyone unfourtunate enough to pass its way. The controls feel a bit weird, though; and once again, there's only 10 tracks or so to enjoy. But it's great in short bursts.
The mode that makes the whole game is City Trial. You are set over a fairly small city with 5 minutes to upgrade your ship for the minigame that appears after the timer stops. So much happens between those 5 minutes, though. You can find other ships lying around and hop on them, you can pick up patches that increase Offense, Defense, Flight, etc., much like an RPG, you can pick up items or copy abilities and destroy the other 3 opposing Kirbys and steal all their stats, you can gather pieces of a ship and then fuse them together to make one of the Legendary Air Ride machines, and so, so, so much more. The ending minigame is always fun: from a Drag Race to a Demilition Derby to a fight with King Dedede; all take advantage of one of the stats you boosted. To sum it up, it plays like an extended version of Mario Kart's battle mode on crack. You and your friends will not stop playing this mode.
The graphical and musical quality of this game is also astounding: each area has its own distint textures, and the music is all orchestrated and is absolute ear candy (though most came from the Japanese version of the Anime). This game has a bunch of replay value, too, in the form of a checkist with many different tasks to fill out. There are over 300 of 'em, so you have a lot to do if you truly want to be the master of the Ride.
Gameplay: Ultra-addicting. One of the most fun multiplayer experiences ever. 10
Graphics: Well done. Not too spectacular, but it's good to the eyes. 9
Audio: The top-tier of epic. Tunes that seriously make you feel like a winner. 10
Overall: Never before has one simple gameplay mode made a whole entire game, and then some. If you want a game that is great to get into by yourself or with friends, but absolutely impossible to put down, this is it. No other GCN game is finer.
10 out of 10