Nintendo has proved time and time again that Kirby is one of their most versatile characters. Kirby has showed up in pinball games, platformers, fighting games and even his very own “breakout” game. Kirby’s Block Ball isn’t a standard Breakout clone either; in fact, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how well this concept is executed by Nintendo.
For the most part, the objective for Kirby’s Block Ball remains the same as other breakout-style games; clear all breakable blocks from each stage. You launch Kirby (in the form of a ball) from his paddle by pressing A and control the paddle with the D-Pad. The paddle handles very well, which is great considering that sometimes controlling a paddle can be an issue with a D-Pad. There will also be some levels that have paddles on the top and sides of the screen; this manages to up the challenge and variety considerably. Missing the paddle may mean a lost life if a set of spikes is waiting on the other side. As is the norm, losing all of your lives will prompt the Game Over screen. Kirby’s Block Ball does play fair by letting you continue a round with the progress you’ve made, but getting a Game Over will send you back to the beginning of the stage.
Sometimes, there will be blocks that need extra power to be broken. Enter the Kirby Power Bounce! Kirby Power Bounce is a move that must be used to take out darker colored blocks that would otherwise be indestructible. You activate the Kirby Power Bounce by hitting A as Kirby touches the paddle, if timed right, Kirby will fly around the screen with a faster and meaner presence. Kirby’s Block Ball also includes Kirby copy abilities which will help you clear stages with ease. Some of these copy abilities include Stone Kirby, Needle Kirby and more! You will instantly copy abilities by hitting enemies. Yes, Kirby’s Block Ball even has enemies, most of which will be familiar.
Kirby’s Block Ball has a total of 10 stages (think of them as worlds) with a total of 5 rounds (levels) per stage. There is a secret Stage 11 that can be unlocked by beating the borderline score on the previous 10 stages; the borderline is a high score pre-programmed by the developers. Of the five rounds in each stage, the first three are your standard clear all the blocks, while the last two are a little different.
Round 4 plays differently from previous levels, now your main objective will be to defeat an enemy; this enemy will eventually become the boss of Round 5. Clearing Round 4 will make a warp star appear that brings you to the boss round, but there is something else different about the fourth round. You will also notice that there are Star Blocks in Round 4, breaking these is important for the boss fight. For each Star Block destroyed you will have one set of spikes covered up in the boss battle, this will come in handy if you’re having trouble fighting the boss. Most bosses are familiar villains from the Kirby series including series veteran, Whispy Woods. Each boss has a health meter and must be hit directly to deal damage. Most boss fights are easy and similar, but they are an extremely fun addition to the game and add a sense of progression to the game.
There are also four bonus stages in Kirby’s Block Ball and they are quite fun. Nintendo continues to add more creativity to Kirby’s Block Ball with games like Up, Down that sees you matching images by hitting up and down switches on the board. There is also Air Hockey, which is pretty standard and two other games called Star Catcher and Up Cloud. These are a nice addition to the game and can help you win some additional 1-Ups if you need them.
Kirby’s Block Ball is compatible with the Super Game Boy which will add some color to the game, but to be honest, Kirby’s Block Ball is a great looking game in general. There are some great sprites and just a great overall design, so great that I’m willing to say this is one of the best looking Game Boy games ever. There is also a great soundtrack to be found in Kirby’s Block Ball and for the most part, a completely original soundtrack. Even if the soundtrack is original, Kirby’s Block Ball still holds that Kirby vibe that I love.
4/5 D-Pads: Overall, Kirby’s Block Ball is a surprisingly great game! It mixes up the breakout formula with some twists and also adds that certain Kirby charm that Nintendo fans adore. Fun gameplay, an admirable amount of content, great look and a great soundtrack make for an awesome experience. Kirby fans should hunt down a copy if they own a Game Boy, or just check this out on the Nintendo eShop.