Kirby Air Ride Impressions

Nintendo shows off a new build of the upcoming racer starring the lovable puffball.


Kirby: Air Ride

At a recent press event, Nintendo showed off a new build of Kirby Air Ride, the upcoming GameCube racer from HAL Laboratories. The quirky racer puts you in the role of Kirby, the puffball who has been amusing gamers with his cute appearance and sucking powers for a number of years now. The build of the game was much further along than the one shown at E3 2003 and gave us a better sense of what to expect from the game.

You'll find three modes to choose from (though their names in the English version of the game are still being finalized). Air ride is the standard third-person racer that has been seen in the media released on the game. Top down is, oddly enough, a top-down racing mode. Multiplayer is a collection games for up to four players. The build of the game we played offered eight themed tracks to race on, covering locales such as forest, lava, and sky.

The game mechanics for the standard air ride mode are simple and easy to pick up. You steer Kirby with the analog stick and activate his sucking power with the A button. You'll be able to use Kirby's sucking powers in much the same way as in his platforming adventures--you'll suck in enemies and use them as weapons by spitting them out. In some cases, certain enemies will yield special powers for Kirby. The A button will also trigger whatever powers Kirby has absorbed and help him take tight turns.

The game's presentation is a cohesive, cheerful package. The graphics feature a modest level of detail and a cartoonlike design that fits the game's art style. The frame rate is zippy and manages to stay steady. The environments are varied and detailed, with a solid amount of ambient action. The game's progressive-scan support improves the visuals even further. The audio in the game is cheerful and suits the brightly colored action to a T.

The big draw in the game appears to be unlocking content--there roughly 120 items, such as new vehicles with unique handling, to unlock in the game. So far, the game seems to be fun, albeit a bit odd. Kirby Air Ride is currently slated to ship this October. Look for more on the game soon.

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