Game Center CX Season 15 – Back to Contents
Is it Billiards? Is it Golf? "Kirby Bowl"
Arino’s no stranger to Kirby games, after the Kirby’s Adventure challenge and playing through Kirby Super Star on the 2011 New Year’s special. But Kirby Bowl (Kirby’s Dream Course) isn’t a regular Kirby game — it’s a crazy hybrid of mini-golf and elements of pool, with Kirby being the ball, and needing to get through the tricky courses by destroying all the enemies and dropping into the hole at the end. It’s by no means as easy as its cute looks suggest, so it’s perfect for Arino!
The first thing you do when you start the game is that you get to draw your own icon for the Name Entry screen. Arino plays around with it for awhile, and eventually just makes a "GCCX" stamp. And then Course 1 begins, which has a few different holes in it — there are eight courses total. The first hole is small, and Arino just needs to wipe out three regular enemies, and do it under par ("par" in this game being a set number of tries you have before you get to the goal). Arino clears the board and then carefully tries to putt Kirby into the hole — he misses the first attempt, but a quick nudge later is all it takes to move on.
Hole 1-2 has an arrow pad that can push Kirby in the right direction, but Arino has to touch it first. He tries to hook Kirby over there, and after a few tries, he does it and pushes Kirby towards the goal. He doesn’t get in the goal, though — he still doesn’t quite hit Kirby with the right level of power, so he fails out and loses a life. Fortunately, Kirby respawns right where he left off, next to the hole, so 1-2 is clear.
Arino gets fairly close to the hole in 1-3 in just two shots, but it’s on a small slope. He devises a plan to bounce Kirby onto the little hill, and with just enough backspin, have him bounce backwards into the hole. Quite daring for so early on! He gives it a try, but lands right on the rim of the hole and bounces back to where he was. Same with the next couple of tries. After that, he stops the fancy maneuvers and just gives Kirby a nice strong, straight putt up into the hole.
We jump ahead to the eighth and last hole of course 1, which features an odd switch panel right next to the start position that slows down Arino a little once he runs over it. Unfortunately, Arino misses the two enemies he needs to hit, and was on his last try, so he gets a Game Over. All the way back to the start of the game!
We head back to the last hole, and Arino gets a little further, but then stops short of the goal right on his last attempt. Bit of a waste of a life, but he nonetheless finishes up Course 1 right after that. Course 2-1 is an easy straight shot, as well. Baby steps, of course… baby steps that will soon become leaps.
On 2-2, Arino’s path is blocked by a few Wispy trees. But he’s not stuck — he just needs to use the new Spark ability to destroy the trees and continue down the lane. Yes, Kirby can use his trusty powers in this game, and they’ll turn out to be pretty useful as the game goes on.
The next few courses aren’t so challenging, so we once again jump to the end of the course. A new wrinkle in hole 2-8 are the air vents, that gently lift Kirby up and provide a bit of (sometimes undesired) momentum. But here, it’s all good: Arino watches as Kirby gently sways up and then rolls right into the goal. Onto Course 3!
Trampolines are new in hole 3-1, and they do what you expect. Though Arino severely misunderestimates their power, as he launches Kirby onto one then watches as the little pink guy bounces right off the edge of the level. But as usual, it’s live-and-learn, and Arino clears it in a couple more tries.
On the next hole, Arino accidentaly gets a Game Over when he used the Fly ability, thinking it was Spark — he jets up and right off the edge of the level, and is forced to go back through Course 3.
As he continues past that trouble spot, though, he gets the Stone ability on the next hole, which can drop Kirby straight down if he’s airborne, or just stop him in his tracks when needed. But then he gets another Game Over on the next hole, once again forcing him to back through it.
By hole 3-6, though, Arino seems like he’s finally getting the hang of the physics, and bouncing Kirby around in creative ways to get him to the goal. It’s not perfect, but impressive — doubly so when Kirby flies right over the goal, and Arino immediately activates the Stone ability to send Kirby right down in there.
His skills are shown once again on 3-8, using a hook shot that perfectly curves and takes out two enemies in one stroke. And then he drops onto a Warp panel that sends him right next to the goal, rolling right into it.
By comparison, Arino flies through Course 4, and is only really challenged by hole 4-8, where has to get through a field of spikes, over a pond, and then defeat the enemies to spawn the goal. But amazingly, he does it all in a couple of shots, and ironically, it’s getting into the hole that’s the biggest problem, once again taking a couple of shots to nudge Kirby in. The Freeze ability is helpful when going along water, as it instantly freezes the water and sends Kirby sliding along like a hockey puck.
Once again, it’s pretty easy for Arino to the end of the Course. The Stone and Freeze abilities are working wonders, and before long, he’s at 5-8. But there, a dash panel sends him into a gauntlet of Wispy trees, meaning he’ll have to use the Spark ability, and with good timing. Unfortunately, once he gets near a Wispy, he activates the Spark only to send Kirby in the opposite direction, rolling right past the tee and off the edge of the level. Oops. And uh… Game Over.
Fast-forward back to 5-8. This time Arino nails the timing and blows through the Wispies, getting the last enemy, jumping over the dash panel so as not to go the other way, and landing right back at the tee. From there it’s a few more bounces back into the hole — except that air vents blow him way back to the other end of the hole. With two strokes left, Arino sadly bungles the next stroke by again sending Kirby off the edge, and getting another Game Over. The problem? He thought he had the Stone ability, but instead had the Fly ability, sending Kirby father than he should’ve gone.
The jarring defeat of that sends Arino into a failure loop that takes him two hours just to get back to 5-8. He valiantly tries to make it into the hole this time, but amazingly, he screws up in the exact same way, accidentally flying up from the exact same position as last time. Well, it’s objectively impressive, anyway.
On the next attempt, Arino does things backwards, by destroying the enemy closest to him, making the goal appear at the back end of the level past the Wispies. From there he just sends Kirby in a straight line, blasting through the tress and landing right on the rim of the hole. A little nudge, and voila! That’s one nightmare over: "Dream Course" my butt…
Arino continues to impress his audience and himself with the fancy techniques on display in Course 6. On one hole, he uses a mid-power bounce to get Kirby over a bed of spikes, then use Stone to drop him right in the hole. From there he declares that he finally gets this game. But we’ll see.
Hole 6-7 starts on an isolated pillar, with other little "islands" that Arino has to bounce to perfectly, or suffer easily falling off. It’s quite hellish — he has to carefully bounce onto a trampoline that’s a square away from a warp panel, but he can’t quite get Kirby there. And before long, it’s another Game Over, and evening is approaching fast.
Another 2 hours pass, and Arino still hasn’t solved 6-8. Just then, a voice — well, a cough and a voice. It’s good ol’ AD Watanabe, GCCX’s very own Kirby! (Hey, that’s what Arino calls her.) She’s come to bring Arino a treat: ohagi, little bean cakes. That’s all from her, though, and Arino’s back to the game after taking a couple of bites. On this attempt, he forgets trying to bounce backwards from the trampoline and instead tries to bounce forward onto the next pillar.
It works! He lands and defeats the one enemy he needed to beat, but man, if only he thought of that earlier. Well, no matter — off he goes towards the goal, and it’s two simple strokes to get there. Maybe the energy from the ohagi is all he needed. Shortly after that, Course 6 is in the bag.
Course 7 opens with a new ability to grab: UFO, which turns Kirby into a UFO that floats in a straight line for a few seconds, then slowly lands. It’s helpful, but not hugely so just yet. And anyway, on a subsequent hole, it’s not any special ability, but rather the "ganbare button" that gives Arino/Kirby and extra "oomph" over the edge of a pond and into the goal.
Things get hairy on 7-6 when Arino has to launch up into a goal that’s angled on a slope. He misses by a hair, and that’s a Game Over, unfortunately. But on the next try, he shoots psat the goal and onto a conveyor belt that conveniently sends him right into the hole. Good stuff.
The UFO gets its chance to shine on 7-8, when Arino uses it to go over a large gap and land right next to the hole. That’s a cinch, of course, and the final Course awaits!
And like clockwork, Arino blasts through nearly all of the levels. 8-7 has a nice wrinkle where Arino has to launch off a dash panel to send him over a gap, but he overshoots it and gets another Game Over. It’s right about then when he’s told his time is up. But he negotiates a final try — if he gets Game Over on this go, he fails.
Slowly but surely, Arino goes back through 8-7. Rather than the dash panel, he uses the nearby warp panel to get closer to the goal, and easily nudges Kirby into the hole. And then, finally, hole 8-8. This one is a super-long straight line; an obstacle course of enemies, warp panels, carefully-placed enemies, and so on. This will take some work.
Arino launches Kirby forward, using abilities as best as he can — he slides across a pool, but is bounced back into it. From there, he launches up and onto a warp panel that sends him right back to the beginning. Uh-oh. He’s blocked by a Wispy at the tee, too, so what is there left to do? With one more try, he arcs over the Wispy, and tries his best to get past the water, but he loses his next-to-last life after that.
With one more go, he manages to bounce up and hit the UFO enemy, then immediately float forward as far as possible. Unfortunately he twitches, making himself miss the line of enemies he needs to defeat to help get through the hole. He’s forced to use up a stroke by going back around with the UFO, but that nearly sends him off the edge of the hole. But with some luck, he hits the last enemy and lands just a few meters from the goal… but blocked by a Wispy. From off-camera, cameraman Abe suggests Arino use a hook shot to get around Wispy. Arino takes a moment, and makes an arcing shot that sends Kirby over the Wispy, and just before missing the goal, Arino activates the Stone ability and drops right in.
It’s good! Kirby Bowl is finished! Sort of. Just then, the nefarious King Dedede appears, and a final boss fight begins. However, Arino’s in no trouble — this is the easiest, dumbest boss fight ever. He just makes a few easy arc shots onto the top of Dedede, and seconds later, he’s defeated.
So. Yeah! Kirby Bowl is finally finished, and just about an hour over the norm! The ending is a simple credits roll with Kirby making figures out of constellations, but with all the drama that preceded it, any end is a good end.
This time it’s a selection from Mother (EarthBound Zero): the part when the hardcore Teddy is injured and has to leave the party, which is when the nerdy Loid rejoins. Former AD Nakayama makes a cameo as Loid.
Game Collections: 1991: December