Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Kirby Air Ride (GameCube) Review

For a game that has been hanging about for around six years now without anymore than a screenshot here and a detail there. So, to finally have a copy of it in our hands is something of a surprise and to discover quite how average it is was even more of a surprise, but a disappointing one. We love Kirby, with the pink-blob-like shape and camp values, but it would appear that he doesn't like us. Nobody who has affection for gamers would put them though this much pain...

Easy is the word that springs to mind having played this one for all of five minutes. It just makes you cringe, it asks no questions of your ability, in fact we consider it an insult to our substantial intelligence, or should that be ego. Everything you will ever need comes from the use of the 'A' button. The game moves forward for you so all you need to concentrate on is everything else, which stupidly isn't very much. Whilst the tracks (for the most part) are very well designed you are only ever asked to really think when it comes to cornering. When we first started we just went zipping around them smacking into the side discovering that we lost very little in the way of speed, but this game is about smooth moves, and we started to think that we were doing things the wrong way, and we were. Hold down 'A' as you go into the corner and you will slow down allowing some extra control that you can use to execute the perfect turn and upon releasing it when you exit you get a boost of speed allowing you to accelerate out into the straight, very clever indeed.

Those of you that are fans of Kirby, or indeed anyone who has ever played SSBM on the GameCube will know that Kirby can 'steal' powers, and this ability is more than present in Airride and it adds a charming new direction to the proceedings. Whilst some active instantly, like the Link costume others need a tap of the 'A' button to come into action. However all the weapons and special little things are a bit on the tedious side and you almost feel that it is little more than a gimmick that adds to a game more shallow than a puddle in the Sahara.

Like most racing titles Airride has put quite some emphasis on the multiplayer side of things, and to be fair the game is really quite good when you get four people sitting around your 'Cube. Running at 60fps all the time things can get pretty hectic and it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience that allows you and your mates to enjoy some easily accessible, simple and fun gaming action. This is perfect multiplayer gaming for the short time it lasts, but as it is so simple you and indeed all your mates will get tired of it and another title will soon find itself spinning under the lid.

This game really isn't all that accessible in Japanese, and we found ourselves a tad confused more than once, hence the delay in this review, but the one thing that kept us scratching our craniums for longest was what we now know to be a unlockable secrets section! After each race a grid appears, win the race and you get a green square, anywhere else and it will be red.

When we stopped getting all annoyed as to what was happening we noticed that we had quite a nice array of extra vehicles and items. Skipping your cursor over a coloured square you are told what you need to do in order to unlock something. Finish a race in a certain time, or win a certain number of races and you start to unlock more and more of what we make around about 150 secrets.

Don't get into any false pretences, we are far from impressed. There is a hell of a lot of potential in this sort of a title and for about 30% of it to be exploited it the most heinous of crimes. Sure you could call it 'simple racing fun' but that is just stupid. This isn't 'simple' its tedious this isn't 'fun' its tedious and did we mention it was tedious, perhaps we didn't make that clear. The multiplayer is fun, the 2D option is a laugh for a while, but anything that is even edging towards fun will be over before you start to get into it properly and you will be left cold and alone, perhaps.

Two things we have forgotten thus far to mention have been the graphics and music. The former are quite respectable, but lack detail in any measure and do little more than they have to, but to be fair the framerate is very consistent. Sound wise things are very nice, with the old and the new coming into play very well, but when the game is no good what does good music do? Sadly, not very much.

Gameplay

There isn't really anything wrong with it on principle, but it doesn't do anything for us. Sure it is all very nice and innovative, but the game it is the centre of leaves little to be desired.

Graphics

Speedy as Dwain Chambers, but ugly as John Prescott. Very disappointing indeed.

Sound

Old meets new in a delightful coming together of sound. It might all be sugar-sweet and sickly but we don't really care. Lap it up!

Value

The main game mode is over before you know it, and the additions add a bit to the single player enjoyment. 150 secrets to be found will keep your thumbs busy along with a solid multiplayer, but it all finishes far to quickly.

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Average

About this score

Average, painfully, painfully average. There was potential, there was a chance for HAL to make this a great game, but the whole thing is flawed. Trying to innovate is great for gaming, but to get the basics wrong and forget about the rest of the game wont get you any fans. Rent it perhaps, but to buy it would be a very bad move indeed.

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14.09.2003

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Developer

HAL Laboratory

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Driving

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (5 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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