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What's your experience with Kirby Air Ride? [roundtable]
Considering that Sakurai has drawn some interesting parallels between Kid Icarus: Uprising and Kirby Air Ride (and Smash Bros.), I thought it would be a good time to discuss this misunderstood game.

Were you scared off by the reviews, or have you played it? If so, what do you think of the game?

I thought it was a fascinating game, in terms of mechanics. Like Smash Bros., it really is a good example of Sakurai's theories of 'disassembly and reassembly' (as well as his love of variable difficulty). As Smash Bros. turned the whole concept of a fighting game on its head, so does Air Ride turn the concept of a racing game on its head. Like Sakurai's other games, that disassembly gives it a steep learning curve, but it ultimately becomes rewarding when you master the simple, but unique mechanics. Which you will have to do to progress through the Achievement Grid (a clear pre-cursor to the one in Brawl). Not that most reviewers would have understood that, since it seems that they immediately dismissed the game for daring to go against years of tradition. Kind of like Wii Sports!

I will always maintain that automatic acceleration is one of those innovations that should've been adopted by every non-sim racing game that followed, but the video in that Iwata Asks really drives home how elegantly the auto-acceleration is tied into the rest of Kirby Air Ride's mechanics, particularly the brake/boost that is the core of the racing technique. Like Miyamoto, Sakurai was really going for something different there, a new gameplay feel. And, like Miyamoto, I think that he nailed it. That simple brake/boost dichotomy is made much deeper by the huge amount of vehicles in the game, each having palpably different characteristics from the next.

As was mentioned in the Iwata Asks, I don't think Kirby Air Ride (or Smash Bros., for that matter) is a game that everyone would immediately love, but it IS a game that everyone should try, because it challenges the concepts of a traditional racing game and offers something very unique. I could go on about different modes and the insane multiplayer, but this is a roundtable! So, on this eve of Sakurai's newest opus, how does NW feel about his 'black sheep'?

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Posted: 03/09/12, 22:42:17
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To be honest, reviews kept me away. I've heard good word of mouth though. Maybe I'll pick it up someday. The kids would love it, if nothing else.
Posted: 03/09/12, 23:03:56
That Iwata Asks really piqued my interest in Kirby Air Ride. I skipped over it at the time of its release, because I wasn't really into Kirby games at the time. I've been quite compelled to check out Meteos, which I missed as well, since Sakurai worked on it.

Part of me wants to snag a used copy of KAR, part of me wants to wait until it's released on the Wii U VC.
Posted: 03/09/12, 23:30:26
I've never read any reviews on the game, and I've never played the game. I've just not a huge racing fan in general. Mario Kart is about as much as I dabble in the genre (with one or two exceptions).

Since I've never been terribly familiar with the Kirby franchise in general, a Kirby-themed racing game never interested me in learning more about it, much less in buying it (though I would certainly play it if someone else owned it and decided to lend it to me or brought it over/brought it out while we were hanging out).
Posted: 03/09/12, 23:38:31  - Edited by 
 on: 03/09/12, 23:39:51
I liked the checklist grid a lot. I was glad to see it return in Brawl, and I hope there's something similar in Uprising (though I probably would have heard something about it by now if there was).

The game itself was interesting, but I didn't really care for the track design very much. All the tracks were very linear and narrow, and the invisible walls made everything awkward. And in a racing game, track design is everything. I loved Top Ride mode, though.

All in all, like a lot of Gamecube games, I think it had a ton of potential and plenty of interesting ideas but could have used more time in the oven.
Posted: 03/09/12, 23:38:34  - Edited by 
 on: 03/10/12, 05:57:08
The reviews are sort of what kept me from buying the game back when it was released. It wasn't that I didn't think it looked fun, but rather, it didn't seem like it had enough content to warrant full price. I had always planned to buy it when it went on sale or I found a deal on it, but sadly, it quickly became a hard-to-find game and I've never come across a price that's much lower than its original tag. Someday...
Posted: 03/10/12, 01:29:31
I bought it a short while back, mostly just to fill out my Gamecube collection with a representative from every Nintendo franchise. I never bothered to grab it back when it was new. None of the reviews kept me away from it... the fact that it was a Kirby game kept me away from it. I'm not a huge fan of the little puffball, tbh. Though lately I'm starting to come around - Canvas Curse and more recently, Mass Attack are pretty great.

Anyway, I barely played any of Air Ride so I don't have much to add. My son really digs it, though.
Posted: 03/10/12, 05:49:50
Posted: 03/10/12, 09:55:51
I did own it for awhile due to some dudes back on the IGN message boards who honestly loved the game. I never got around to playing it that much. I did play it a little and from what I played, it wasn't a bad game, but at the same time it wasn't a game that seemed like it would hold my interest.

I regret not giving it more playtime. I ended up selling it cause at the time I needed the money.
Posted: 03/10/12, 12:31:19
I kind of suspected that most of the replies would be like this. Even though this is a Nintendo board chock full of Sakurai fans! The game has become a bit hard to find, as well...

Here's a clip of the crazy-ass open-world City Trial mode. (Marvel at how Smash-y the menus are!):

That should give you a better feel for KAR's mechanics, as well. Everyone has a limited time in the expansive 'City' to power up in different ways. You can addincrease speed, weight, turning-speed, etc. And then you compete in a final challenge which is randomly chosen. So you can spend all of your time jacking up your speed and then get thrown into a Battle Mode where it is all useless. It is totally unbalanced, totally insane, and totally awesome. (Of course, you can also blow the living shit out of other players during the City portion, causing them to power down.)

Plus, it has racing modes, or whatever...

Yeah, that Iwata Asks made me nostalgic for KAR. I was thinking, "That game WAS pretty interesting." Sakurai mentioned that the game didn't resonate with everyone, but it did have quite a few hardcore fans.

If you guys are unfamiliar with KAR, I'd recommend watching the brief video on Iwata Asks for a primer on the brake/boost thing.

I can understand not loving the game, but forgettable? It's too weird to be forgettable!
Posted: 03/10/12, 17:04:29
I was not into Mario Kart, so I wasn't interested into this game either.

Why did you not pull this game out during the meet-up!?
Posted: 03/10/12, 19:02:10
I don't technically own it.

I DID rent the shit out of it, though. And I always meant to pick it up, but it was hard to find! And the GameStop copies were always filthy! I'm actually in negotiations to purchase a copy right now. A copy which I will never play.

Actually, the game that I REALLY wish that I had a copy of at the time of the meetup was Blur. It's so good.
Posted: 03/10/12, 20:09:04  - Edited by 
 on: 03/10/12, 20:10:08
Like others here, I was instantly put off by the reviews. Which was really stinging, I might add, as I am quite the staunch Kirby fan. However, the music was also rather off-putting, and it looked to be heavily focused on multiplayer. However, during the GCN days I found it marked down to fifteen dollars or thereabouts, and figured why not give it a try (it was also near GCN's death, and I was getting desperate). And much to my unsurprise, I didn't really care for it. The music was indeed stinky, and the single player rather boring. That being said, when I had the chance to play the game with my cousins, it was kind of fun - mainly because they had and loved it (and still talk about how much fun it is/was). So, the game can be fun with the right crowd, I suppose, just not on its own - at least in my case. I think Kirby's Air Ride marks Kirby's first non-platforming adventure that I simply couldn't warm up to.
Posted: 03/10/12, 20:31:17
I was playing this game last year for the first time, and I greatly appreciate the new gameplay mechanics it introduced to the racing genre as you mentioned Anand. With the huge challenge based grid, you are constantly looking forward to seeing what else you need to do keep unlocking achievements. The reward system is soooo satisfying.

The only difficulty I found was the huge learning curve in mastering the controls. You basically have to throw away your notions learned from other raving games out the window! This game deserved more attention, for sure.
Posted: 03/10/12, 21:39:23
I got the game before I even started to pay attention to reviews (and recently, I'm starting to not pay attention to them again), and I loved it. It was very different and the multiplayer was something that my friends and I played all the time. It was just really fun.
Posted: 03/11/12, 00:26:23
It was way underrated by critics, but still not amazing. It's a perfect 7/10 game to me. Controls are a bit clunky, Top Ride is horrible and the game is pretty shallow overall, but the Brawl-esque unlocking system was very compelling, City Trial is very fun in single and multiplayer, and the regular racing is pretty good. A fun time but that's it.

I also don't think it's fair to compare it to Smash Bros. in terms of quality. Like I said Air Ride has plenty of neat stuff in it, but the main "draw", the core gameplay is nowhere near as engaging as it is in Smash Bros.
Posted: 03/11/12, 17:33:11  - Edited by 
 on: 03/11/12, 17:35:59
Well, I played Air Ride for quite some time, but I've got to say, it's only worth playing if you have a buddy with you. Otherwise, the game just turns into a bunch of different modes and getting achievements with no story or whatsoever. It just doesn't feel fresh.

It would be nice if the sequel got some story/cups going on, that is, if we would ever get a sequel (hopefully on handhelds and online compatible). More tracks would also be nice. Also, it would be awesome to have ratings at the end of each cup, like Mario Kart has.

I really like how simple and easy to learn the controls are. In fact, I realized something a couple of weeks ago, Kirby's air ride's controls could totally fit in a Touch Screen + Gyro function controller such as iPods. You know, Tilt to turn and touch to brake/inhale/powerups. That's just how simple the commands are.
Posted: 03/11/12, 22:07:54
I loved it. I got my Gamecube pretty late in the game, and this was one of the first titles I picked up. The checklist kept me entertained for a good, long while and I never even got close to finishing it. It was much better as a multiplayer game tho, as many racing games are. I also appreciated the variety of modes. My family, girlfriend, and I all enjoyed different ones, so it was easy to bounce around.
Posted: 03/14/12, 04:19:30  - Edited by 
 on: 03/14/12, 04:20:06
You definitely have to play it with people who are open to what it offers, but when you do, it can be very fun. It's sort of like Wii Music that way.

I actually agree with most of that, except I wouldn't call Top Ride 'horrible', and I think that the controls probably work exactly as Sakurai wanted them to. But I wasn't comparing its overall quality and 'stickiness' to Smash as much as its non-traditional, innovative spirit.

Sakurai left HAL before KAR released, right? But he seems to claim ownership of it in that Iwata Asks.

Multiplayer is definitely better than single, but I preferred the 1P progression scheme to that of Mario Kart. Mario Kart single-player needs a serious reboot. It would be SO EASY to make it better, too.

And YES, it would make a good mobile game, because the controls are super simple, but the gameplay is fashioned around them. Now that I think about it, KAR's automatic acceleration DID find it's way into mobile gaming, although they might not have been a direct inspiration.

Just like Wario Ware might not have been an inspiration for EVERY iPhone GAME EVER, but it's certainly plausible (Jump Forever - > Canabalt).
Posted: 03/15/12, 02:54:12
@Anand ...but you own everything. Except one of your favorite games ever, apparently.
Posted: 03/15/12, 08:24:17
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