Video Game Review (Posted on 03-06-2017)
Whew man, it's been a busy past week but I wanted to release this review not because it's next on our list, but this review is in tribute to the co-founder of Nintendo of America Alan Stone who passed away at 71
. While we could've chosen any other Game Boy title for review, this one holds something special.
When I first received the Nintendo Game Boy as a child, my parents packed the system with the one and only game you're reading about right now: Kirby's Block Ball
. My parents bought this for me when we were on a family trip in Las Vegas, Nevada, and while we enjoyed the sight-seeing experiences, this game kept me busy....very
busy. While it may be just a Kirby variant of Arkanoid
, this presents challenges that even a seasoned retro gamer wouldn't mind tackling.
Featuring Kirby and its characters, along with the famous bosses under King Dedede and Dedede himself, you must overcome 10 stages to access the final castle where the King awaits his battle against Kirby. Oh, but it gets even more difficult: you can't simply pass the stages and defeat the bosses in normal fashion, you'll find that each stage has a borderline
surpass in order to access King Dedede's lair. This borderline is a score, usually six figures, and you must clean house. In addition, to help you beat the borderline, say 125,000, there are specific levels that activate what's called a Bonus Chance
. You get this by hitting a sphere with a star on it, and it turns the blocks into Through Blocks
—blocks that Kirby can charge through without resistance. That Bonus Chance only lasts 30 seconds and if you clean house in less than 30 seconds, depending on the amount of blocks remaining in that stage level, you'll accumulate points faster than ever, thus have a higher chance in clearing and surpassing the borderline. Now, doing so may require several tries since I'm certain you won't beat the Bonus Chances on your first try; It all depends on the directions you hit Kirby in.
Along the way, you get chances to win extra lives by getting Kirby to hit and land on his infamous Warp Star. The Warp Star takes him to the center of the stage map featuring four bonus games: Air Hockey, Up Cloud, Up Down, Star Catcher. If you want my suggestion, I highly recommend Air Hockey because if you get your shots and timing right, it's super easy to snatch up 3 lives (three lives is the maximum extra lives you can accumulate). My least favorite is Up Down, where you hit cards in order to match with the others. I never got the hang of that, and end up with cards of King Dedede which only is 1 bonus life. Up Cloud is nice and works on your paddle movement skills, but rarely got the 3UP cloud to the finish line. Star Catcher is very good as it strengthens your paddle-eye coordination. If you've got fast reflexes, this is a great game to play as you need to use all four paddles to catch stars and avoid catching bombs. If you're very short on lives and want something quick, then Air Hockey is your best bet.
Another opportunity to plow through the stages is the integration of power-ups! There are four power-ups: Spark, Burn, Needle and Stone. Spark gets Kirby to destroy blocks in his path, namely in diagonal directions. Burn turns Kirby into a fireball and fires in an upward direction, destroying everything and every enemy in the way. Needle may be cumbersome to use at times since Kirby spews out spikes, like a sea urchin, to destroy enemies and blocks but it can be useful when wanting to get Kirby back on a paddle and redirecting him into a new spot of the level. This is particularly handy when you're playing the Bonus Chance, and when you press B on a paddle to get Kirby situated on the paddle again, the Bonus Chance clock stops until you release Kirby again. Its attack is weak but it works in terms of redirection, especially levels where blocks are tucked in to hard-to-reach spots. Lastly, the Stone power-up turns Kirby into a heavy boulder and breaks every block underneath its path, which is directionally opposite of the Burn power-up. If you can, try and keep any of this power-ups when fighting the bosses because the stage bosses have a life meter, and attacking them with a power-up takes out 2 bars out of their life bars instead of 1. This is also a very handy trick when you face King Dedede, who has twice as much life bars in its meter compared to the regular stage bosses.
Clear the borderlines on all 10 stages, defeat King Dedede and you have gotten Kirby to restore control of Dream Land overcoming Dedede's sinister plans and putting him back in his place once again! The game ends with credits.
Graphics are what you'd expect from an original Game Boy game, but it has a special on-screen border when played on TV using the popular Super Game Boy. The game has 3 empty files where you can save your game and continue where you left off. Since this game has a cartridge battery, be sure to check on the condition of the battery and if it saves the games before buying. The music, like with almost any Kirby game, is very catchy. The music department sure hired some talented composers because the soundtracks on each stage will stick in your head. The controls are excellent with no delays, hang-ups or anything funky along the way, working as needed.
It's taken me this long but I've finally come through reviewing the very first Game Boy game I have ever played that made me an instant fan of the Game Boy overnight. Like I said, this game does present and pose some incredible challenges but it's not impossible to beat. I strongly recommend this to fans of Arkanoid
, fans of the Kirby franchise and/or Game Boy fans in general!
P.S. In respect to show my appreciation to Nintendo of America, Inc, this review was written in tribute to the co-founder Alan Stone who passed away in February . You will be missed but your work has been much admired, and you're one of the reasons we enjoy timeless video game entertainment, like these, over and over again. Thank you, Mr. Stone.
I also don't think you should pass up getting $5 off orders over $50 at the Warner Bros Online Shop
1. IGN.com: Nintendo of America Co-Founder Alan Stone Dies at 71
© 2008-2019 written and reviewed personally by Kris Caballero.
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so many players.
Thank you for playing.
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