Review by Tails 64

"A Solid Game for the Self-Motivated"

Kirby Air Ride was announced back in 1996 for the Nintendo 64. One thing led to another, and it was cancelled. However, like the mighty phoenix, it rose again, better than before. HAL, the makers of Super Smash Bros. Melee, have produced this new game for the Nintendo GameCube. The main gimmick is one button control. Can a premise this simple be entertaining to those without blankies?

After the dramatic opening scene, you are tossed into a game that seems to be a common ancestor to Super Smash Bros. Melee. We all remember the simple but fun multiplayer mode and the single player mode made fun by crazy objectives. Well, they're here, as well. The game is split into three distinct modes: Air Ride, Top Ride, and City Trial. Each mode is like a game in itself. Each mode has a large grid containing 120 check boxes. Whenever a mission is completed, one box will be checked off. The boxes touching it will reveal their missions, allowing you to take on more tasks. Some missions have unlockable items for their completion. Others will give you a free check, while others will give you nothing. This whole set-up is either a blessing or a curse. Some people simply won't feel the need to play the game after the first day. However, those who are very self-motivated will easily waste over a month. I, personally, find it fun to play the game for a day or two, and then come back later when I feel the desire. Nothing is more fun than accomplishing crazy tasks with your friends.

The three modes of the game all provide their own fun. Air Ride is the game's "main mode". In it, you are given a perspective behind cute ol' Kirby in a race to the finish. There are many vehicles to choose from, which adds great depth to the game. Unfortunately, there are only about eight courses, which is very little for this kind of racing game. During the race, you can copy enemy abilities and use them against your foes. The courses are interactive, with switches and many routes to take. In Top Ride, you are given about eight courses for insane action. The perspective shows the whole course, which is rather small. The goal is to finish first, by using destructive weapons. City Trial is the most unique mode. All the players are tossed into a city and told to build a good racing machine. To do this, you can find a vehicle, and then enhance its status with items. Once the time is up, there is a contest between the players.

The AI is very easy to defeat, but the game is bloody challenging when asked to accomplish a goal. Luckily, you will have fun doing it because the people making the game made sure there were no stupid problems. You are given all necessary options, there are no glitches, and there are no bad courses. Though multiplayer mode is the same as single player mode with extra bodies, it is still a very fun party game.

The graphics are truly dazzling. The character models are very smooth, well animated, and easy on the eyes. The environments are the most beautiful I have seen in a long time. Never before has fiction and reality blended so well together! There are oceans in the desert and flying whales in the arctic, but it all seems real. HAL has created a very dazzling spectacle. However, some of the vehicles seem a bit blocky.
HAL has also scored with lovely music. The music sounds as though it belongs in an orchestra, which does not fit the Kirby universe well in most cases, but usually works here. The sound effects of engines purring and vehicles bouncing are also top-of-the-line. There are very little voice samples, since Kirby almost never talks. In the end, this is one of the best soundtracks of 2003.

This is a game I strongly suggest a rental first. I loved it, but I can see many being bored of it within a weekend. If the game still holds your attention before the return, then a buy is required. Those who can run on the rainbow despite the fact there is no pot of gold at the end can play this game for months. Either way, it's a fun game that is a solid entry on Nintendo GameCube for our beloved Kirby.

Rate: 8.2/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 10/27/03, Updated 06/22/04

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