Tag Archives: Masahiro Sakurai

Kirby Super Star (1996)

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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 mechanically as well as spiritually, a unique decision when compared to other genre-hopping mascots of the time. When Mario wanted to race, he took to the track in a go-kart. Kirby races as he does all things: Walking on a 2D plane, inhaling obstacles and enemies, and chowing down on loads of pastel sweets.

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Super Smash Bros. (1999)

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Gamers tend to forget that Nintendo is just as much in the children’s entertainment business as it is in the video game business. It’s a mistake that generates much of the frustration lobbied at the company’s unwillingness to evolve its key franchises; suddenly, the grand innovators who shepherded the industry through its infancy and adolescence often come off as… well, infantile or adolescent. I’m not making excuses for this perceived laziness, because I would love to see a new, envelope-pushing Zelda that truly strayed from the hand-holding, old-hat Ocarina-isms of Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. But the fact of the matter is, those titles are, if nothing else, surely as satisfying for the current eight-to-twelve year-old set as Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask were for me, and as the original 1987 title was for the generation who later scoffed at the linearity of the Nintendo 64 games. What I’m saying is, even if they’re no longer the industry leaders when it comes to innovating game design, you can’t say Nintendo doesn’t know its audience. And, despite what you might think from looking at any internet comments section (the stomping ground of the vitriol-filled twenty-something gamer), Nintendo’s primary audience is — and really, always has been — children. Continue reading

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