Kirby's Air Ride review
Kirby Rides On


Nintendo's first pink puffball Kirby makes another appearance for the company, this time not as a platformer but in the form of a racing game.

First let's address the presentation presented. Graphically the game is typically colourful and clean. It's all too easy though to perceive this as "simplistic", so anyone looking for blowaway graphics are probably going to be disappointed. It's cheerful rather than awe inspiring.

The sounds suffer a similar program. The effects heard feel a little generic, with simple swishes, bops and booms peppering the gameplay. The soundtracks are nice but don't leave a notable impression.

So, looking from the outside, the impression given is that of "average". However, playing the game gives quite a different impression. So, let's go into that now.

Perhaps the first thing to address here is the control style, which is vital in any game. This game goes the risky route of using just the analogue stick and the A button. While very simple on paper it oddly translates well into practice. Kirby accelerates on his own with steering to the analogue stick. A quick spin attack can be executed with a side to side snap of the stick.

Everything else is assigned to the A button. It is used to charge up the boost gauge of the chosen craft, but this also slows the vehicle down as well. The A button also activates certain track features, such as switches, and also for swallowing enemies and using some of the abilities. This presents a forced choice between maintaining speed or bearing a moment's speed loss in the hope of gaining an edge if it works. A player cannot be reckless or they'll cost themselves a lot.

Now that we've covered the control let's check out the game modes. Kirby's Air Ride delivers 3 game modes, all of which deliver quite different playing experiences.

First of all is Air Ride. This would be considered the "standard" racing mode. You start off with the warpstar as the only selectable vehicle, which is the typical default vehicle - it handles well with no notable advantages or disadvantages. Hitting specific goals in Air Ride (as set in the Checklist) will unlock new vehicles. Some simply boast stat differences, while others present a completely different racing experience. There's nothing quite like the stop-start action of the Swerve Star for example.

The tracks themselves vary, from simple grassy plains to icy mountain tracks. Various features like a ferris wheel, spin panels, grindrails and more litter the tracks. Each track has a vast assortment of enemies, with the rarity decided by track. Each track gives a varied experience, which really helps the lifespan.

Top Ride switches the camera perspective to a top-down view. There are now only two vehicle choices, which basically only affect the control style rather than any statistical changes. The weapon system is changed to a more traditional item pickup, with weapons autoused.

Tracks are still quite varied. Track features such as fans, quicksand pit, light rails and so on present a different challenge on each track. Top Ride presents a race that keeps the action a lot closer than the other game modes.

Finally, we have City Trial. This mode in itself is split in 2 parts.

First the player enters the city. This is a large environment of a city (duh) with many areas and features. Grind rails, boost rings, volcano, waterwheel. Each player enters this area on the Compact Star, a vehicle with good handling and acceleration but poor top speed and defenses. The aim of this part is to end with the best possible vehicle ready for the next part. This is done in 2 ways.

The first way is to switch to a better vehicle. These are found around the city, and switched in and out at set times. Unlike other modes Kirby can get off a vehicle here, at which point Kirby can jump on another vehicle.

The second method, and the method you will be making the most use of, is to boost the attributes. This is done by collecting the patches found throughout the city. There are also grey patches that reduce an attribute if picked up by a careless driver.

There are other ways to lose patches as well. Getting struck, having your vehicle destroyed or switching vehicles when you have collected a high amount of patches will cause you to lose patches.

During this trial period he city will be subject to specific events. These can range from useful events like the castle chamber opening and healing areas appearing to detrimental effects such as the city suffering a meteor storm or fake patches appearing.

At the end of the time limit the players enter a stadium round with their vehicles. These stadium events could be anything, from a battle match, single lap race, high jump, target flight and more. This can produce interesting results, as a vehicle well suited to one stadium may do badly in another. An example might be a vehicle whose speed lends itself well to drag racing but poorly to a high jump.

Overall this can be quite an addicting game, and it's pick up and play concept lends itself well to a quick fun blast through. Anyone expecting a serious indepth challenge might not find what they are looking for, but those seeking a fun game they can drop into at any time will not be disappointed.

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