Reblog: Kirby Super Star (1996)

Interesting look at Kirby Super Star (SNES, 1996), and how its ability to jump between genres exposes its easily-adaptable core.

Playing the Canon

Kirby_Super_Star_Coverart

About a month ago, I asked my Twitter followers to pick a Nintendo Virtual Console game I should play and write up for my blog. Blogger Pixel Bubble was the first to respond, and chose Kirby Super Star. You can read Pixel Bubble’s thoughts on the games and the games industry on the Pixel Bubble blog, Geek Force Network,United We Game, and Twitter.

Kirby Super Star is not so much a collection of minigames as it is a collection of mutations. Masahiro Sakurai, at once the most eccentric and restrained of Nintendo’s ’90s game designers, never strays far from his core idea of how a Kirby game should play. Sure, Super Star offers two (very tertiary) timing-based challenges, but the main package swaps out Kirby’s objective while keeping his controls stable and recognizable. Even in his furthest flights of fancy, Sakurai stays true to Kirby…

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Gunpei Yokoi: Nintendo’s Game Changer

Photo - Gunpei Yokoi

In 1981, Nintendo released Donkey Kong to arcades on both sides of the Pacific, solidifying not only the company’s video entertainment division, but what would soon become the platforming genre. Though the brainchild of Shigeru Miyamoto, its success both in its design and in the corporate structure was guided by a man whose impact on the company’s early days could not be underplayed: Gunpei Yokoi (横井 軍平, 1941-1997).

Yokoi’s legacy extends surprisingly far back. Before Super Metroid. Before the Game Boy. Before Donkey Kong. Even before Game & Watch, and before Nintendo was in video games at all. No, his involvement all started with a simple extending arm.

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A Pre-Nintendo World

Photo - Nintendo Playing Card Co.

Nintendo is a world-renowned gaming company, traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, with offices in North America, Europe, and Australia. The company is headquartered in Kyoto, where it was founded in 1889.

1889? That’s not a typo. Nintendo was founded in Anno Domini eighteen-hundred eighty-nine. But to see why, we have to look even further back into history to discover the origins of Hanafuda, Nintendo’s original product line.

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A Smashing Introduction

Super Smash Bros. Melee - Promotional Character Image

If you’re of a certain age, chances are that at some party or sleepover, you’ve played a Super Smash Bros. game. And why not? It’s a game that thrives on chaos, and is easy enough for newcomers to play, but is technical enough for big-time professional competition. After playing it for a while, the focus becomes less on the characters and items you play as, but on the mayhem and devastation you can cause to your friends. In fact, you might forget what the gimmick is entirely, but the late Don LaFontaine shall always remind you:

“Something’s gone wrong in the happy-go-lucky world of Nintendo!”

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