Initial Impressions: KIRBY AIR RIDE

I have a few hours of KIRBY AIR RIDE instead of the usual hour this time.  My little brother was playing with one of his friends and, being that the game allows up to four players, I thought I’d join in to see what they were up to.  KIRBY AIR RIDE is for the GameCube and is made by Nintendo.  There are at least a couple different modes (the main one being a kart-style racing game), but we spent all our time playing the “City Trial.”  City Trial mode is like free-form kart game interspersed with mini-games.  The idea is that Kirby (Nintendo’s adorable pink puff-ball hero) drives/glides around a large city map on various “stars” (vehicles) collecting items.  The stars are all dispersed throughout the city and have (sometimes vastly) different handling characteristics and each use the “boost” button for different effects–some use it to go faster, some can only turn when using the boost button, some drift when boosting, etc.  The items the players are trying to collect affect the stats of their rides.  There are speed up, speed down, handling up, increased HP, and the like.  The concept is to go find a star you’re comfortable piloting then collect as many power up items as possible in the amount of time allowed in the city map.  These stat changes will be used in the mini-game to follow to (hopefully) give you an edge over your opponents.  All the while, your buddies are trying to level up their stars and can even knock power-ups off yours.  The mini games vary from races, to battles, to who can glide the farthest and, when set to random, you never know what the competition at the end of the City Trial you’ll be in and whether you collected the right power-ups for it.

All-in-all, it is surprisingly entertaining (even considering how primitive the graphics look), though it can get rather cutthroat with the item collection (especially with eight- and nine-year olds).  The different stars are fun, and actually do provide enough variety that each player tends to have their favorite and that favorite is often different from someone else’s.  A lot of the rounds I had with my brother and his friends turned into their own games of hide-and-go-seek, destroy all the stars, or any number of emergent game-modes we came up with on our own.  We never did manage to defeat the King DeDeDe battle, though . . . so I’m not so sure about the balance of that one ; )

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