Kirby Air Ride (GameCube) Preview

By 21.07.2003

We've seen weird games in our time, though, there are none that have come any where near that of some of the games we've seen coming in for late 2003 to early 2004. These totally original and 'zany' games all have something in common; they're all published and to some extent developed by Nintendo. Is this just another reason as to why Nintendo are failing? When a casual gamer sees a game such as GiFTPiA, Pokemon Box or Kirby Air Ride we somewhat doubt that they would make a leap of joy. Then again, if the future of gaming will consist of lovable fat pink blobs flying through the air at vast speeds then we don't think anyone would be too happy. Cool, futuristic cars, crafts and ships flying round neon lit cities yes, Kirby's whizzing round fantasy tracks?

There's no denying it, Kirby Air Ride looks a lot like it would play like F-Zero GX, it looks very similar, the only major difference is that its Kirby that speeding round the circuit, not Samurai Goroh or Captain Falcon. Well, lets look at the parts of the game that aren't looking too good- the first being the graphics. The game looks somewhat bland or lifeless, and for a Nintendo game this just can't be right. Instead of smoothed off, round designs on the ships or stars we have very blocky objects that don't give that smooth impression that Kirby screams out. Kirby himself is also looking rather boring, even if he is just a Sphere or ball it doesn't mean that this simplicity can be used as an excuse of bad graphics and form on the character on a whole. We hope, or should that be expect that HAL and Nintendo will get this problem sorted out by the games release as it is looking rather disappointing at the moment. The textures don't have that sleek finished off style that most games on the Gamecube, or for that matter any next-generation games consoles should look like, not some blocky, sharp Nintendo 64 game.

The game is designed for children, this is an obvious point, but even children of a young age will grow to find this very tedious very fast and be just too good at it as the mechanics of the gameplay are just too easy and spoil what should be a thoroughly enjoyable game. You could put your controller pad on the floor and watch Kirby go round the track himself. This makes the game more of an interactive movie than a fully blown game that you control. A bit of acceleration and braking assisting here and there is all good and well but this takes it way too far and makes the game effectively pointless. A is used again for boosting as well as consuming enemies or foes. And in true Kirby style Kirby is then rewarded with a sample of their power, defence or weapon. Whilst munching on some enemies may prove to be a great asset in parts of the track, some may prove to be totally pointless if you are just firing balls of fire into the open track ahead.

The computer doesn't harness their unique abilities too well either and doesn't provide the Mario Kart awareness that keeps you on your toes the whole time when you're floating around the track. The weapons aren't too imaginative and are fairly limited and to make things worse, hardly any of Kirby's other abilities have been implemented into the game. There were abilities like wings but these hardly affect your opponents around you. There aren't any vastly exaggerated abilities such as the Mario Kart-esque Lightning bolt or the great Blue Shell. Because HAL haven't been too adventurous with the gameplay the game is suffering, everyone likes something fresh, even if it would have been a failure a new style would have been a brave attempt at making something new out of a genre that has so many different types of game already consisted in it.

Along with the disappointing Air Ride mode we are treated to another mode of play, the Top Ride play. This is basically the same; simple 'plays itself' style gameplay only the view has changed as you now have an birds eye view of the area in which you're racing. Again, not very good, mainly for the same reasons stated above for the Air Ride mode of play.

The multiplayer should show the games true potential much more as you're not playing patronisingly bad A.I. but your mates who can really give you a run for your money. With the promise of the LAN (Local Area Network) ability this should be made even more fun. Kirby Air Ride LAN should be great but you can rest assured that Mario Kart Double Dash!! will be even better. We doubt the LAN option will be utilized to its full potential very much on Kirby Air Ride as the sort of age audience that it would appeal to wouldn't even know what LAN stands for, never mind set up the connection.

Final Thoughts

Kirby Air Ride looked to be a promising game. It has the speed; pink blobs, varied tracks and a whole lot more that are the perfect ingredients for an exceedingly good game. Although, sadly it appears something has gone badly wrong along the way. The problem is that HAL Laboratories opted for very simple gameplay mechanic system that is really just too easy to master, it is great to be able to be fairly good at a game in 10 minutes but it should take a much longer learning curve to master the game. With hardly any precision and timing to the gameplay needed it will become very tedious and wreck what should be a very original and unique game.


HAL Laboratory







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (6 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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