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Robert Tamayo

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Playing Kirby

The 3D Kirby game is finally here. It's everything I wanted in a Kirby game. It's cute, funny, and has weird music. 

The game follows the 2D Kirby level design pretty closely, particularly the style from Kirby's Nightmare in Dreamland. There is an overworld hub from which different levels can be selected. Each level has a fairly linear path, but there are secrets to be found that can lead to extra bonuses. Boss battles, if present in a given level, are typically found at the midpoint in the level instead of the end. There are no checkpoints, but the levels aren't too long. The real motivation for each level is to find all of the lost Waddle Dees. This adds to the motivation for finding all of a level's collectibles; not finding a Waddle Dee in a level really feels like leaving someone behind.

The cuteness of the game is its real charm. Kirby has always been a cute character with a childlike outlook on the world. Despite his ability to destroy enemies instantly and absorb their very essence, he is a kind and gentle creature who even stops his car to let a duck and her ducklings cross the road.

The gameplay mostly involves easygoing platforming, exploration, and combat. The level design is interesting and has you doing different tasks in each level. The real draw of Kirby games is his copy ability. Certain enemies can be absorbed and power up Kirby with new attacks. Different Kirby games have used different ways to modify the copy ability in some way, and in this game the new update is the option to upgrade his copy abilities. This gives a little bit of an RPG layer to the game, but still at a very simple level that never gets too complex.

Kirby's floating ability seem to be "nerfed" in this game. It hardly gives the player any extra height in his jump. It also slows Kirby down to a crawl while in midair, either leaving him vulnerable to attacks and hazards or greatly reducing the chance of completing a timed challenge. Kirby's floating ability in this game seems to serve the purpose of making platforming easier and more forgiving to inexperienced players, while platforming veterans will probably prefer to avoid it altogether.

I would say the music is a little more fitting with Nintendo's recent musical style and doesn't keep to the traditional weirdness found in most Kirby soundtracks, but it's still of excellent quality.

Finally, the art style of the game is a great example of the kind of 3D aesthetic I want in my next game. It is not intentionally low-poly, but it benefits from its more simplistic look. Everything about the characters is simple, but the overall tone of the games makes it all work to its benefit. The world itself is very interesting, as it appears to be a more positive take on a post-apocalyptic society. It doesn't look like everything was destroyed in a great war; it looks more like everyone has left mysteriously and the plants and wildlife are starting to reclaim their territory.

Overall, I recommend the game, especially for younger players. It's a joyful experience for anyone, and for Kirby fans, it's everything we could have hoped for.
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