Review by Tien25

"Not for the hardcore racing fan but incredibly fun. A game worthy of Kirby."

I've been eagerly awaiting this game ever since I heard about it for the N64. I was really disappointed when it was canceled and overjoyed when I heard about the project's Gamecube revival. Then I saw the reviews... While it got alot of good reviews, a few sources that I thought were credible at the time, such as IGN, seemed to really hate the game. I decided to have faith in HAL because they have made some of my all time favorite games, like Smash Bros. and Kirby Superstar. I wasn't disappointed.

Graphics 7/10- I might as well deal with the least impressive aspect of the game first. The graphics are enjoyable, bright, cheerful, and fit Kirby extremely well. They aren't very detailed though. Nothing is really noteworthy, but the graphics are smooth, and the framerate is constant even at points where the game hurls you forward at speeds Sonic the Hedgehog wouldn't even dream of.

Sound 8/10- The music is perfect for Kirby. Anyone who has played Kirby games knows what to expect. The sounds are ok but nothing really special. Kirby doesn't make a peep at any time though. Well except when he's sucking things up. Kirby is not known to be a man of many words, but it would have been nice to have some voice effects. LIke screaming as his ride blows up.

Control- 9/10- For some reason people don't seem to like going forward without pressing A. It is weird at first but... why do I want to hold down A the whole time anyway? I like this alot better. You press A to slow down to drift around turns. As you hold down A a boost meter fills up. When it is full you can release A for a speed burst. The only problem occurs when trying to use certain weapons. For example the plasma ability charges up and releases when you press A. The A button is also used to drift as you turn. So when you try to turn you release the beam. While this is annoying it does tone down the power of a weapon that would otherwise be too powerful. It is still annoying though. And using powers with a particular ride that comes to a complets stop when you press A is just as annoying.

Gameplay 9/10-

Air Ride- The great thing about the gameplay is the variety. You have three modes to choose from. Air ride is your traditional race around the course type thing. Each track is unique,and has multiple paths. You can also choose from many different vehicles, each with its own features. For example you can choose to ride a vehicle with incredible speed, but hold to press A to make a turn. Another is slow on the ground but can go very fast in the air (the game is called air ride for a reason). Another is a big wheelie (a classic Kirby enemy that he has rode on at points) rolls around fairly quickly, and can fill its boost gauge almost instantly, but it is really hard to slow down making sharp turns tricky. And of course you have your standard balanced warp star.

Being a Kirby game you can suck enemies and steal their power. You can use the power for a limited time. Using a power wisely can help you take the lead, or keep it. Most powers grant him an offensive move, but some will change Kirby into another form, such as bird Kirby, which he will race as temporarily. He can also suck enemies up and spit them out, as well as use a spin attack at any time.

There is a great deal of custimization you can do with the option. There is a feature which will give speed boosts to the players who are not in the lead. This helps make things close the whole time. But if you don't like it you can turn it off. Another cool option is damage. If you set it on or off. If it is on you can use powers to deplete another player's lifebar, and if you drain all their health they'll be out of the race. You can also set any number of laps from 1-99. Turn on Damage with 99 laps. This will make it a Kirby death match with the last puff standing being the winner by default ^_^. There are other options as well but I'm taking up too much time.

Top Ride- This mode is a tribute to older racing titles. It uses an overhead view on a small track with a lot of laps. (Unless you change the number.) Instead of sucking in enemies there are power ups that drop onto the course. These can be speed boosts, weapons, size increases or a few other interesting effects. Each course is unique despite its small size. Each course has hazards of its own, such as a sand pit with a deadly marshmallow eating sand monster, or a collapsing bridge. It can be even more frantic and fast paced than air ride at times.

City Trial Mode- My personal favorite. You're dropped into a city where you have 3-7 minutes to collect as many power ups as you can. You start off with a fairly slow warp star, but you can ditch it and switch carts at any time. You can also find cards that will give you powers (like when you suck up an enemy) and you can find power ups unique to the City Trial mode. In the city random events will occur, including some appearances by some old friends... After your time is up you are sent to an stadium event, where you will utilize the power ups you obtained. Could be a drag race, a battle against other Kirby's, a battle against a common foe, a lap of an Air Ride course, a target practice type game, and many others. If you want you can choose the event in advance out of those you've played. You can also go straight to a stadium event of your choosing. Loads of fun, especially with friends.

Just on a random side note I've read from a few sources that you can finish in 3rd or 2nd place without pressing anything. I tried letting the race go on by itself and it didn't happen. I was dead last every time. By at least 15 seconds, which is alot in a racing game. The only way you can not be in last place is if one of the Kirby computers eliminates the life bar of another CPU Kirby, causing their ride to explode, and causing them to finish last by default.

Story N/A- Like many racing games there isn't a story. Not that it matters all that much. The only reason I put this section in here was to mention that this game is based on Kirby Superstar, considered to be the best Kirby game by most of his fans. By based on, I mean that the powers and enemies are from Kirby Superstar. A few of your favorite characters from Superstar will pop up in city mode events. Kirby fans will love these appearances. Kirby Superstar has seemingly been forgotten since the game came out. So it is really nice to see the characters from it return.

Replay 8/10- City mode can last a while, as you try to unlock all the stadium events and the random events that occur in the city. There is also a check board with lots of goals to accomplish for each mode. It may be hitting a flying dragon, winning a race after intentionally going through an area that will slow you down, or knocking your opponents out a certain number of times. There are alot for each mode so if you try to complete them all you'll be happily occupied for a while.

Overall 9/10- It has its flaws but overall I found this an incredibly fun experience. If you're looking for a true racing game however you might want to buy F-Zero instead or wait for Mario Kart. But you should still give this game a try. The variety in gameplay made this the most enjoyable racing game I've ever played.

Buy Or Rent?- I think it is always a good idea to rent a game first. Especially if you're unsure. I think I got my money's worth, but each person has his own opinion, so you might want to rent it first to avoid spending 50 bucks on a game you won't like. I'm not sure why you wouldn't like it, but it could happen.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/16/03

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