Video Games

The Deceptively Simple Reason Nintendo Waited So Long to Make a 3D Kirby Game

Nintendo’s cast of colorful mascot characters has largely moved from 2D to 3D over the years. Games such as Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda Link, and Samus his Aran all started in 2D environments, eventually making the transition to full 3D games. But there is one Nintendo staple that has taken far longer than others. It’s Kirby, and at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2023, HAL Laboratory expert his director Tatsuya Kamiyama explained exactly why.

Because, simply put, it’s Kirby’s round.

Okay, this is a bit oversimplified. As Kamiyama explained in his GDC panel and subsequent interview with IGN, HAL Labs hasn’t been working on 3D Kirby games for years, and it’s only recently that they’ve been able to get 3D Kirby off the ground, so to speak. But once HAL decided it was the leap it wanted to make, the 3D Kirby action game presented the studio with a number of challenges that took considerable effort to overcome. And many of them stem from the fact that Puffball’s friends are effectively simple pink spheres.

Kirby’s Multidimensional slides at GDC 2023

“When you spin a sphere, you can’t really say it’s spinning,” he said. “Kirby has a simple spherical design, so it’s hard to tell which direction you’re facing from behind. Kirby’s long-range attacks are a big problem if the player misjudges which direction they’re facing. It will attack while sucking “, so if you miss, you have to find another enemy to suck it in, which is very frustrating.

Kirby games are designed to be fun for those with little gaming or Kirby experience, so players who struggle with 3D action games can enjoy Forgotten Land without the need for ultra-precise aiming abilities. It was essential for HAL Laboratories to

slides from "Kirby Multidimensional" at GDC 2023

Kirby’s Multidimensional slides at GDC 2023

Kamiyama went on to explain HAL Labs’ solution to this problem. Kirby’s ranged attacks in Forgotten Land automatically target enemies that meet certain criteria based on a points system. Points are awarded if the enemy is already facing roughly in the direction Kirby is facing (so Kirby can’t attack an enemy that is clearly directly behind him). You receive more points if the enemy is dangerously close to Kirby or if it is an important enemy. In some way (boss, etc.). Additionally, while Kirby’s attacks while on the ground don’t target airborne enemies, aerial homing is powerful to explain how difficult it is to aim in the air.

The actual homing itself is meant to be subtle, so ideally the player is unaware it’s happening. decreases significantly over time. There are also additional fixes for depth, such as when Kirby is trying to hit an enemy who appears to be next to him but is actually slightly behind or in front of him. It prevents you from missing attacks in a way that looks like it hits and is frustrating.

slides from "The Many Dimensions of Kibuli" at GDC 2023

“Kibry Multidimensional” slides at GDC 2023

Later in the talk, Kamiyama also thought that the reason for the fixed camera in Forgotten Lands was the need to make it easier to access for new players. can be very difficult to move at the same time. Using a fixed camera solves this. HAL Labs was also able to use the camera in creative ways. For example, pausing briefly to alert the player to areas out of range of a constantly hovering Kirby, or positioning the camera off-center to focus on his important gameplay objects and obstacles. can. elsewhere in the environment.

Basically, Kirby and the Forgotten Lands is based on two pillars: creating a “fresh look” for Kirby and creating a game that “anyone can play,” Kamiyama stressed. . This means that even when Kirby is battling a biblical cosmic threat in the climax of an epic boss fight, players don’t have to worry about being overly precise when trying to knock it out of the sky. It explains why.

In our review, we celebrated Kirby and the Forgotten Lands’ successful warp of the series. Please continue to IGN for more information.

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. you can find her on her twitter @duck valentine.

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