Welcome, internet. It's Friday, and I've been getting off track lately. So I want to go ahead and line my proverbial mine cart back up to the (also proverbial) rails, and get back on track. Since I maintain Friday for different concepts and Ideas for the game design world, I would have loved to post my most recent blog, about the working title called “Mercenary”, today. Unfortunately, by the time I realized exactly how fitting it would have been, It was already posted, and I thought “Eh, it would have been posted anyway” and decided to keep it up there.
Anyway, Today, we're going to be reviewing a game from Nintndo's history again. This one puffed and bounced his way into peoples hearts with his adorable charm, and natural ability to murder things by inhaling them, swallowing them in one gulp, and stealing their powers. Any sensible gamer at least knows what Kirby looks like. It's hard to think of a person who doesn't know Kirby, unless they live under an FPS rock stashed away near the Bermuda Triangle (this post is becoming very biased. I'm terribly sorry for that.) More specifically, we're going to be looking into Kirby's adventure for the NES.
It's not hard to understand the premise of most of the Kirby games. It's not like it's any different from all of the other platform games made by Nintendo. You play as a certain character. In this case, Kirby. And you run to the right, left, up, or down depending on where the level itself takes you. That's one of the most subtle keys in a platform game. They often go to the right, but the level design of a good platform game will make you want to go into several different directions. Kirby is no different. As you progress through each world, navigating each level, you're taken in multiple directions. This makes the game feel more open, despite having an incredibly linear design.
One of Kirby's signature abilities is the power to inhale violently, catching enemies into this never ending vacuum of a digestive system within his puffy form. Some enemies have special abilities, which Kirby can steal by swallowing the inhaled enemies. He has a huge range of abilities to steal, such as breathing fire, spiking his body like a porcupine, or even exploding to destroy the enemies on screen. If there's one thing Kirby can do, it's copy other people's powers, and use them against the baddies.
Aside from the usual levels, Kirby can also participate in mini games, but can only do each of them once per game. First is the Crane Game. You find a smaller Kirby, and a giant Kirby amongst several other crane game prizes, but your goal is to get at least one of the Kirbys into the little hole on the left. You have two chances to get at least one Kirby. If you get a smaller one, you get an extra life, and if you get the large one, you can get two lives. If you're both lucky, and skilled enough, you can get up to four lives in one run of this mini game. One of my favorite things about this mini game is the combination of luck and skill it requires. The Kirbys in the pit are dropped in at random places, and the crane will be able to grip the Kirby for an amount of time depending on how accurate you are with the crane. This is why you need skill to get four lives in one run. The large Kirbys fall out of your grip more easily than the smaller Kirbys, so it's best you try to get some that fall near the hole, thus making it easier to drop it in. If you don't, the smaller Kirby's are relatively easy to get, and one life is better than none, right?
Another mini game tests your timing. It's set in an old western scenario, and you're faced with an enemy. You can't just hammer a button, however. You have to wait for the enemy to draw their gun, then fire your (giant fist) gun at them with the A button. Don't wait for too long, however, because they'll fire at you. But if you fire before they draw their gun, you get hit on the head with an X. Repeat this too much, and you fail the mini game.
Aside from the mini games, there are arenas and museums. In arenas, you fight a mini boss type enemy for a tomato, which restores you to full health. These don't close off after one try, unlike the mini games, so you're free to repeat them as you please. I recommend going into these with a ranged attack like laser so you can just stand back and fire away at them until they die. You still want to avoid them, though, especially the big bug enemy. That thing likes to rush at you and grab you.
The museums won't challenge you to fight, but you can get free copy abilities in there. There are enemies on pedestals. They won't attack you, and will come back every time you re-enter the area, so you can come right back to pick up your favorite ability as soon as you unlock it. This isn't always so easy, however, as some are hidden, and can only be unlocked by pressing certain, very large colored buttons in the world's levels. You can find many different things when you hit these buttons, from alternate arenas, to museums and mini games. It's loaded with secrets, which, for this husky, is AMAZING!
One of my favorite things about games of this era is that they had a real challenge to them. The programmers didn't baby you with games in gens like the Nes. You really had to test your skill; and mettle in order to succeed, you had to push your limits, even in such a cute, almost easy seeming game. I'll admit, in many different games I've played in the modern times, It wasn't very difficult at all until the final boss. I really appreciate classic games for this reason. They don't just teach you everything, then drive you through the story. They stop you, and make sure you have the appropriate skills before letting you progress, but it encourages you to go back and discover different things. Maybe I'm just nuts, but New games just don't seem to create this dynamic.
Well, I think I've said enough about this game for now. Kirby is adorable, but this cuteness underlies a wonderful challenge, and creative design. It's a game that anyone can jump into, but also requires you've understood and mastered it's skills before you complete it entirely. It's still a huge load of fun for pros, easy to enjoy for casual gamers, and a nostalgia trip for retro gamers It's going to be available on the WiiU's virtual console for only $.30 USD as part of their 30th anniversary virtual console campaign, celebrating Nintendo's 30th birthday. You can also find it on your normal Wii's shop channel, and in the 3DS eshop. Even if you're not a huge fan of Nintendo, you should pick up this game and see why other people are. If you're alrerady a Nintendo fan, you probably already know why. So, in the meantime, see you guys soon ^^