2017 is Kirby‘s 25th anniversary and to celebrate Nintendo has released Kirby’s Blowout Blast for the 3DS.
I’ll be honest, I don’t think really get the Kirby games. Despite Nintendo equipping the pink blob with a series of abilities that should translate into great games, the series seems to be largely stuck in a rut of titles that lack either challenge or imagination. Or in some cases, both. In that sense Kirby’s Blowout Blast is perhaps a fitting release to celebrate Kirby‘s 25th anniversary, because it contains ample amounts of both.
The game focuses on Kirby‘s ability to inhale and spit out his enemies and scores you on how many successive chains you can combo. You’re also graded on your speed and damage taken. The game is broken up into five stages, each with four or five levels – score enough points on each level and you can unlock an ‘EX’ version of that stage with greater challenges (although I use the term loosely, because seasoned players can beat the whole thing without coming close to losing a life).
As is befitting of Kirby‘s 25th anniversary, Blowout Blast looks and controls great. The 3D stages don’t require a great amount of navigation, but Kirby runs and jumps through them like a dream. By stripping back some of his abilities, the two button controls (jump and swallow/spit) mean Kirby responds quickly when in peril.
Unfortunately, the fact that Kirby can’t transform and rarely needs to float means there’s little depth or skill to the swallow/spit aspect of the game. Equally although trying to string together combos sounds appealing, the game always limits your cap by dividing the levels up into portions of enemies that prevent you from progressing further until they’ve been defeated, which then resets your combo.
If the aim of a game is to encourage the player to replay levels to beat their high score, the very least you could expect is interesting level design to make it less of a chore. However, all of the stages follow the same basic structure and design throughout – Nintendo and HAL Laboratory have really outdone themselves when it comes to lazy, bland design.
I suppose one other minor positive if you’re desperate to play Kirby’s Blowout Blast is that it’s relatively inexpensive at £6.29 on the Nintendo eShop, which works out at £1 per minute of the game that is tolerable before monotony sets in. Kirby started life as a placeholder designed by Masahiro Sakurai, so perhaps it’s fitting that Kirby’s Blowout Blast is very much a placeholder for a genuinely good Kirby game.