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I enjoyed Arkanoid, I appreciated Wizorb, I celebrated Alphabounce, and I even had a
good time with Block Kurushi. I think it’s safe to say that I’m a man who enjoys destroying
walls with Pong. But while each of these games has their own quirks, facets, and idiosyncrasies,
they can’t claim to be as ridiculous as... THIS. Yes, that’s a paddle on the side wall.
While you’re controlling the main paddle with left and right, you’re manipulating
this with up and down. Now you’re playing with power. SIDEWAYS power. Crack open a bottle
of merlot and grab some marshmallows, ‘cuz Kirby’s about to blow your mind.
It’s widely accepted now that anything a ball can do, Kirby can do better, along with
the usual cast of iconic characters, usually some manner of power-appropriating mechanics,
and an awesome soundtrack. In this case, Kirby’s tasked with annihilating some abstract constructs,
using only his own awesomeness and a paddle. The tiniest paddle in the history of block-breaking
games. Sixteen pixels. Yes, I counted. Just so that we’re clear, Kirby himself is, in
ball form, eight pixels wide, and by hitting A with the correct timing as he impacts the
paddle, you can re-inflate him to regular-Kirby size, where he’s as big as the paddle itself.
As such, it’s exceedingly difficult to apply the kind of english you might be used to using
to control ball direction. Instead, you’ve just got... well, hope and luck, and occasionally
the ability to engage superpowers to blow through blocks faster. Find a star as you’re
bouncing around and you can choose from one of four bonus stages, which - like they did
in Kirby’s Pinball Land - take the odd mechanics of the day and turn them on their head for
the sake of novelty. They’re well-done, but take some getting used-to. As evidenced
by this UFO absolutely schooling me at air hockey. I’m sorry, my mind was still reeling
from that boss fight... and having to control FOUR PADDLES AT ONCE.
That’s right, four paddles.. Because every wall is covered in spikes. And if that’s
not cruel enough, your paddle can occasionally get SHRUNK. Shrunk! It’s only 16 pixels
to begin with, but take a weird statue-face-lookin’ minion to your grill and your paddle becomes
a single star, the size of the ball itself. Control? English? Power-bounce-shot-thingies?
HAH! You get to squirm, Marshmallow. SQUIRM. Sure, the whole Kirby aesthetic tends to add
a layer of cuteness to whatever it touches, inviting the player to drop his or her guard.
Well, you’re going to need all of that guard, because Kirby Block Ball has no qualms about
getting ridiculous really fast. Perhaps four paddles just isn’t enough. Wonder if the
ROBs can help me with this one.