Monday, December 20, 2010

Nick - The Most Dangerous Game

I'm on top of the world; I rush forward, utilizing my overwhelming speed to close in on my helpless prey. I bear down mercilessly as he swerves, trying desperately to break my pursuit. And then, in an instant, it's over; in a satisfying crack his vehicle is crushed. He lets out a cry of anguish and despair as I drink the sweet nectar of his demise.

He wanders off, a downtrodden nomad and another helpless victim; everything he worked for is naught. As I gloat in victory, something comes up behind me. There's no time to react; there is no chase, no pounding heart, no fear. I hear the horrible crack that was my ally just moments ago, and now I too am crushed. Knocked from my place at the top of the food chain, I never even saw what hit me. It was something blurry, something moving incomprehensibly fast. It was something... pink.

This cycle of predator to prey, this dynamic story of betrayal and back-stabbing, is typical of a game of Kirby Air Ride. Kirby Air Ride is a 2003 Gamecube racing game starring Kirby. The reason that you've never heard of it is because it is, by all counts, a bad game. It got terrible reviews, and the main game is slow and boring.

But tucked away as just another feature, is a second gameplay mode called "city trial." It's advertised as a fun alternative way to play; you run around the city and collect power ups and then compete in a friendly race after the timer runs out.

What they don't tell you is that if you smash someone, you can ruin their vehicle, take all their powerups, and leave them broken and helpless.
There are several things wrong with the above picture: first of all, they look like they are having fun. In reality, Kirbys are disposable. They should be huddled in fear, preparing for their imminent demise. Any great vehicle you get, and power ups you receive, they all can be stripped from you in an instant. And then your assassin will have your precious power ups, feeding further into his strength and your oppression.

The second thing wrong with that picture is that exciting things are happening in the background. If you're lucky, maybe meteors will fall from the sky for a little while, or a secret stash of power ups will appear somewhere. But more often, the in-game events are things like the sky getting foggy for a minute, or the lighthouse turning on.
Another thing of note in Kirby Air Ride is that there is absolutely no balance. See that machine up there? That's Hydra. If someone manages to get Hydra, it's all over. Hydra is indestructible, overwhelmingly fast, and capable of destroying you and everyone you love with a single tap. If your friend gets Hydra, you had better pray that the round is almost over, because it will be misery for you. Your friend is no longer your friend. Now he is the oppressor. The enemy. The tyrant. A monster, bloated with his own strength.

. . .

I love playing Kirby Air Ride. It's unbalanced and cruel. When I play it, I am subhuman. You are no longer my friend or my brother. You are a target, and your only salvation will be the moment of relief you feel when the clock runs out.

If you want to play, call me up.


  1. Furious that I did not receive a shout out. I'm the victim he refers to in the first paragraph. I am the person he is mercilessly crushing. I'm Conor O'Brien, and I play Kirby's Air Ride.


  2. I only play with Kirby in Super Smash Bros. I've been subject to a lot of criticism, but there's something satisfying about changing his?/her? color and getting in, like, 150 punches in a row.