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Kirby's Block Ball

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Reviewed by Diane Cote A Sympathetic Observation Man, would it stink to be Kirby. Not only would you be tremendously over weight, but you'd have to eat and bump your way out of every conceivable cutesy danger. Pain and gain. Stop the insanity! In Kirby's Block Ball, Kirby has been magically transformed into the sphere from a suped up version of Super Breakout. He is responsible for clearing level after level of blocks, which have been formed in a variety of different patterns. He also has to rid the screen of numerous little baddies. Additionally, the Kirbster can also be rigged up with some impressive special attacks, that will help him in his tricky task of mass block clearage. The Legacy... Nintendo, with the help of HAL Laboratories, has a way of making the most ridiculous games you could think of a sweet surprise. Although I've never been a tremendous fan of the Kirby Dreamland titles (I'm currently playing Dreamland 2 so we'll see if this changes), I have to admit, Kirby's Pinball is one of my all time favorite Game Boy games and Kirby's Dream Course has taken a position on my all time favorite Super NES games list. So, it was with a certain amount of anticipation, that I entered into the latest Kirby epic. Right away I was impressed by the cleverness of this diversion. Yes, it's a direct descendant of all of the Pong and Super Breakout variants that seem to filter out to the market place every year (still). The difference with Kirby's game, of course, is all of the Kirby-isms that are interspersed throughout. Kirby's Construction The game is set up all on one Game Boy screen. The only scrolling in the game happens after Kirby clears a level and he moves up to the next one. Bumper pads are positioned on up to four horizontal and vertical planes - bottom, top, left and right - but the number varies from level to level. The blocks come in a number of shapes, sizes and strengths. Some of the blocks can not be destroyed by regular Kirby, so you have to be a tad crafty if you want to get 'em all. Kirby doesn't just bounce around without any say in the matter either, he plays an active role in his own bopping. The press of the "A" button activates your little bumper pad which, upon contact, will puff Kirby up like a full vacuum bag and give him the brief ability to smash through some of the tougher blocks. Special Kirby abilities that the game features are: Burn Kirby - our pudgy hero can burn through just about anything Spark Kirby - Kirby zaps himself a wide path through the blocks Stone Kirby - he transforms into a solid chunk, allowing him to bust through anything Needle Kirby - becomes a porcupine doughboy with the ability to spike various blocks and stick into the bumper pads Double Kirby - can you guess this one? The Cute That Kills The graphics for the game are simple, classic Kirby. Rounded shapes, big cutesy heads, and lots of stars and such. Kids and parents will like the innocuous design. Older game players, without a taste for anything resembling a moving coloring book, will probably have to work hard to keep from running away from their Game Boys. In terms of the gameplay, however, I think you'll agree with me that the cute characters and design elements do little to alter the enjoyment of the diversion, regardless of how hardcore against such esthetics you may be. Volume Up? As strange as this may seem, the sounds and music in Kirby's Block Ball are not punishing. Melodies are discernible and change from time to time and the boings and sproings of Kirby being bopped around fit perfectly well. Yep, it's true, I had the volume up on the Game Boy - I didn't have ear phones in, mind you. No sense over doing things. Another Kirby Korker Nintendo's done it again. Kirby's Block Ball is a winner. I didn't find it quite as enjoyable as Kirby's Pinball Land but it definitely fit all the criteria for a solid portable entertainment. With eleven different levels each with five separate rounds, as well as four bonus games, Kirby's Block Ball should keep gamers on the go, smiling for a good long time. You know, for a fat little pudge who goes through life bouncing around, Kirby sure has a lot of tricks up his sleeve.

I'm giving Kirby's Block Ball 8.5 out of 10

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