This week, I decided to not only review another racing game, but to review a game that was highly underrated by critics. That game is Kirby’s Air Ride, released for the Gamecube in 2003.
The game itself features three modes, Air Ride, Top Ride, and City Trial. Air Ride is the standard racing mode. You play as Kirby and race against other Kirbys and choose from a large list or carts which each are vastly different from each other. You then choose from nine different tracks and then you start the race. The gameplay itself is pretty similar to Mario Kart. Speed boosts, ramps, and power-ups are on the tracks like Mario Kart tracks. Although, rather than just driving the cart into the power-up like you do in Mario Kart, in Kirby’s Air Ride, the power-ups are enemies that Kirby has to suck up and copy there ability like he does in most Kirby games.
Top Ride is the shorter mode. You play as Kirby on a small track thats viewed from above the track rather that a third person view like in Air Ride mode. Depending on the map you choose, the race consists of five to ten laps and the actual race last about three to two to five minutes. This mode wasn’t really that exciting, but it was interesting to see a racing game from an over-world view, something that has not been done before Kirby’s Air Ride.
City Trial is the third mode. This was my and many player’s favorite mode in the game. You play as Kirby in a very large city like map that spawn nine different upgrades called Patches and a few karts. You start the match in the standard, low level kart on a random spawn point within the map. The goal is to collect as many Patches as you can for you kart and find and switch to a better kart before the time runs up. Once the time limit is reached, you play against three opponents with your and there upgrades and kart they grabbed during the first part of the game in a random game mode. Some of the game modes are short form races, battling your opponents until they run out of health, flying to get the farthest distance, etc. I had a lot of fun with this game mode and played it more than the others.
Kirby’s Air Ride was a exciting and amazingly fun game to play. To this day, I still have my copy of the game and often play a few rounds of City Trial since I found it so much fun and I still do. Along with many other gamers though this game was heavily underrated. When released, critics average score for the game was about a five out of ten citing the low score was because the gameplay being overly simple. I strongly disagree with this and I know many other Nintendo fans do as well. I felt the game had great graphics for the time, an large assortment of good karts, exciting game modes, and gameplay that while somewhat simple, was enjoyable beyond belief. I would give Kirby’s Air Ride a eight out of ten and I believe it is one of the most underrated games of all time.