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 ; )

A Long Absence

Hello all you beautiful people.  It’s been a while since my last post here.  A lot and not that much at all has happened since the last post.  I’ve tried out quite a few games and been reading through 10-year old Game Developer magazines.  I’ve also gotten up to speed on general iPad/iPhone development using Objective-C and the iPhone SDK.

I’ve been getting into the habit in the last few weeks of sitting down with a game I’ve never played and trying it out for an hour.  I have a few reasons for doing this: a) as a designer, I want to look at what other games are doing/have done, b) I want to analyze how well other games pull a gamer in within the first moments of a game and how much of the game the player can get a feel for in those moments and c) I like to play games.  My plan was/is to write up my impressions of the games I’ve been running through.  So pretty soon you should be able to look forward to some notes on Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Assassin’s Creed, NickToons Unite!, Open Season, Sonic Heroes, Sonic & Knuckles, Jimmy Neutron: Attack of the Twonkies, Kirby Air Ride, and World of Warcraft. As you may have noticed, I’ve been raiding my little brother’s library for titles I hadn’t played.

Reading through the old Game Developer magazines has been interesting.  Not only has there been a lot of great information I’ve left sitting on my shelves for all these years, but it’s pretty fun reliving the history of game development through articles written when I was in college.  I’ve been reading them chronologically and just got to 2002 last night, a time when the Front Line Awards were praising the nVidia GeForce 3 graphics card, Maya 4, and the “new” Titanium Powerbook G4.  It was also funny to notice an ad for the 2002 Game Developers Conference while wearing the freebie shirt I got from attending the 2002 Game Developers Conference.

lastly, I just want to mention that the Pragmatic Programmers’ iPhone SDK Development by Bill Dudney and Chris Adamson is a great book for getting up to speed on the basics of iPhone/iPad development using Apple’s iOS SDK.  I found it well written and the progression of topics well thought-out.  I also liked that the authors chose to be tutorial-level detailed with new topics, but as the reader progresses through the book, the authors leave the implementation of previously learned material to the reader.  It does the dual job of forcing the reader to actually learn what there doing and practice it, while also making the book itself more readable and hold more information (since they don’t have to reprint the same instructions over and over again, lots of space is saved).  so yeah, good book.  Great resource.  It’s been super helpful in getting me my first iPad gig.



Currently playing: World of Warcraft Trial Edition