Kirby’s now comfortably over twenty years old at this point; HAL’s pink puffball is firmly entrenched in gamer’s minds as a Nintendo icon and the star of many, many games. When he’s not off saving Dreamland from the gluttonous King DeDeDe or going toe-to-toe with Mario in the latest Super Smash Bros., however, Kirby can often be found taking part in a whole host of silly contests designed to test controllers and occasionally friendships to their limits. Here are a few of our favourites from Kirby’s earlier years.
It makes sense to start at the beginning, and Kirby’s beautiful 1993 outing on the then-humble NES throws two very entertaining distractions our way in the form of the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Quick Draw and Egg Catcher minigames.
Quick Draw is a Wild West themed reaction test, where your only worry is how quickly you can press fire at the right time. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is — until you find yourself going cross-eyed at the screen, trying to enter a Zen-like state of mind so you can finally beat King DeDeDe and claim his hat for yourself. If you ever wanted proof that your reactions get worse as you get older, Quick Draw is more than happy to supply that for you.
In comparison to Quick Draw’s demand for a single win-or-lose response, Egg Catcher is all about keeping cool under constant pressure. King DeDeDe’s at it again, this time throwing eggs into Kirby’s gaping maw – with the odd bomb chucked in every now and again for good measure. Quite how either of them got in this situation is anyone’s guess, but you’re required to sort out the mess regardless. Eggs good; bombs bad – just make sure you don’t confuse the two!
Kirby’s Fun Pak itself is a veritable smorgasbord of delights as it is, but the final icing decorations on the cake are without doubt the Samurai Kirby and Megaton Punch treats that unlock as you play.
Samurai Kirby is really nothing more than a reskin of the previously mentioned Quick Draw game, but HAL did such an excellent job with the samurai-themed redesign and the comedy weaponry that nobody has surely ever complained.
Megaton Punch provides a nice counterbalance to Samurai Kirby’s intensity, a crowd-pleasing test of Kirby’s strength, focus, and timing that’s measured by a ridiculously over the top crack that can potentially split the entire planet in two! Keep an eye on the crowd too; there are a few faces in there that may have crossed series just to cheer Kirby on!
Kirby’s Tilt ‘n Tumble (Game Boy Color)
Tilt ‘n Tumble is sadly the most obscure game on our list as Kirby’s tilt-sensitive Game Boy Color adventure only saw release in the US and Japan, and the timing of the US release meant that gamers were more concerned about saving up for the Game Boy Advance that was just a few months away than shelling out for translucent pink Game Boy Color carts. But this of course didn’t stop Tilt ‘n Tumble from having a quality selection of unlockable minigames, with our top picks being Kirby’s Roll-o-rama and Kirby’s Chicken Race.
Gamers of a certain age may remember the time when you could open a Christmas present and find one of those plastic maze games inside, where the object was to guide your little ball bearing into a small hole somewhere inside. Roll-o-rama is along that sort of line, but with multiple Kirbys instead of ball bearings to direct to the holes and spiky enemies to avoid instead of monotonous mazes. As with all the best games it’s a lot more fun (and frustrating) than the basic premise would have you think.
Chicken Race is a fresh take on the classic Kirby goal game, only this time instead of using timing to gauge the power of Kirby’s charge forward it’s up to the player to shake their Game Boy instead. Sounds easy – until we mention that Kirby’s trying to get as far as possible without falling off the edge of a cliff. Luckily he only needs a plaster to sort himself out if you plunge him off the end, but this simple addition makes a huge difference to what would otherwise be a mindless shake-a-thon.
The last game on our list is Kirby’s first 3D outing, and appropriately enough for an N64 title all of The Crystal Shards minigames allow for four soon to be not-friends to play simultaneously. This multiplayer focus gives the games here a very different feel from the previous examples, as there’s more of an emphasis on direct competition and jostling with other players for control.
First pick this time is 100-Yard Hop, a race against up to three friends or CPU players. The only controls are a choice between hopping one or two spaces ahead, which leads to an almost rhythmic feeling as you try to rush ahead and not fall into puddles, mistime leaps onto turtle backs or slip on banana peels.
The other choice has to be Bumper Crop Bump, a fruit-catching game that would be a heck of a lot easier without all these other people shoving you out of the way and stealing your fruit! Oh and don’t forget the bombs that sometimes fall down either – funnily enough having one of those fall in your basket isn’t much good for your health, or your score!
Kirby games and the minigames within have taken many forms over the years, sometimes strictly solo affairs while others practically beg you to force a controller into a friend’s hand – the one thing they all definitely have in common is that behind the cute graphics and simple rules are some furiously addictive and enjoyable experiences; you can’t help but have just one more go.