21st December 2011; By Patrick
No matter how you look at it, if you’re a fan of all or most of Nintendo's core franchises, 2011 has been a fantastic year. Nintendo celebrated Zelda's 25th Anniversary to the point where there aren't even words to describe it; Mario got his first all-new 3D handheld game; the first Star Fox game since the DS’s Command was released, and while a remake, it was still amazing; Nintendo's more casual fans received a new and improved nintendogs; the third Pilotwings game was released for the 3DS; Nintendo remade the most loved Zelda game of all time in 3D, and then followed up with Skyward Sword -- arguably the best Wii game ever; and even the GBA Ambassador Games proved that Nintendo still remembers franchises such as Fire Emblem and F-Zero, providing hope for further installments in those cult series.
But in the midst of all that, my eyes were drawn to the Kirby games this year; not because I'm a huge fan of the series (which I am), but because of the saturation levels that the series has reached. From 2005-2009, the series saw only three releases; Kirby: Canvas Curse, Kirby: Squeak Squad, and Kirby Super Star Ultra, all of which were for the Nintendo DS. In the last 15 months, however, we have seen Kirby's Epic Yarn, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby Mass Attack, 3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure, and to top it all off, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror on GBA was just given to Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors. Now, excluding Epic Yarn, the latter four titles all released within three months of each other in North America (two if you live in Europe).
Hoshi no Kirby was mentioned by Nintendo of Japan, and drowning us in the games all at once is a very weird, and somewhat poor marketing strategy -- especially when you consider the fact that now there are presumably no Kirby games beyond the preliminary development stage yet. Kirby will probably be taking a break.
I was originally ecstatic when I heard that Kirby Mass Attack and Kirby's Return to Dream Land would be releasing one right after another. I am a massive fan of the franchise, and they seemed to space out the releases just enough so that right when I finished Mass Attack, Return to Dream Land would arrive. The two titles released on the eShop, however, seemed like extremely foolish moves and while I enjoyed them, I cannot for the life of me begin to understand why they released the games when they did.
The only possible reason I can think of, other than that they just wanted to release them all at once and get it over with, is that they thought that by releasing the games on the eShop they could capitalize on a resurgence in Kirby's popularity. While the resurgence undoubtedly happened to some, if not many, I highly doubt that many of the people who were reminded that they enjoy Kirby games are the people purchasing 3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure, or were even eligible 3DS Ambassadors.
I honestly don't know how to feel about this year for Kirby. I mean, yes, I'm more than satisfied right now. In fact, after downloading Kirby and the Amazing Mirror, I played it for 5 minutes then quit because I've played so much Kirby lately. But over the next few years, the replayability of these games will come into question as we sit through the next drought.