Nowadays, there's such a fuss about game characters being real and relateable, representative of 'gamers' everywhere. It's not enough to just be a fun way to kill a few hours; a game has to make you feel things. Well, we can't help feeling a kind of kinship with Nintendo's other rotund mascot, Kirby - a true food lover, the happy little blob also happens to be the exact colour we go every summer when we forget the factor 50. And, as his games tend to skew on the easier side, we can generally get to the end of the average Kirby game without too much stress. In a nutshell, we're resolutely #TeamKirby, which is why we were more than a little interested in his latest mini-adventure, the downloadable eShop title, Kirby's Blowout Blast.
Stripping Kirby of his myriad of copy abilities, giant mechs to ride around in and other such gimmicks the little guy has gathered over the past quarter century, Kirby's Blowout Blast goes back to basics, with just his trademark inhale/exhale ability left intact. Split into short courses, each littered with coins and enemies, all you have to do is take control of the Kirbster, and guide him from beginning to end, racking up as many points as he can by blasting enemies into other enemies along the way. At a budget-friendly £6.29, this is some cheap and cheerful, quick-fire Kirby fun, although it doesn't quite live up to his larger platforming adventures. Indeed, Kirby's Blowout Blast is very reminiscent of one of the unlockable mini-games in his last 3DS adventure, Kirby: Planet Robobot, just fleshed out into more of a standalone title instead.
The key to Blowout Blast is to suck up as many enemies as possible, before firing them at other enemies for bonus points - the more enemies you can manage to inhale at once, the bigger the blast you can fire out afterwards, potentially sending a deadly dirigible of destruction towards a group of enemies, knocking them all out in one for a big points boost. It's not just for showing off though, as in the words of a famous TV host, "points mean prizes" - or at least in this case, new levels. Earn enough points to net you a gold or platinum medal on a level, and you'll unlock more challenging 'EX' versions of them; earn gold or better on these and a further Secret Path unlocks.
However, it's often not as simple as hoovering up a group of enemies, and our old enemy - known as 'Scarfy' - really comes into his own in Blowout Blast. Disguised as a fairly cute and innocent smiley orange space hopper, those that are foolish enough to try and suck him up will be in for a nasty surprise, as he suddenly morphs into an angry grey thing, chasing poor Kirby down for daring to try and eat him for dinner. Blowout Blast likes to mix these enemies in with other more benign types to catch you off guard, costing you precious time or losing you some health in the process. Other enemies like to waltz off screen after a short time too, meaning you'll need to be pretty quick off the mark if you want to catch them if you want that perfect score - especially in certain sections, which require you to hoover up one group of enemies and fire them at another group over the other side of the screen before they disappear.
Every three or four stages, at the end of each of the worlds, comes a short boss fight in traditional Kirby style - and in fact, for fans of the series, the bosses themselves will be some familiar faces too, including the block-pushing duo Lololo and Lalala, and the angry thunder cloud Kracko. Boss fights themselves are usually require a bit more strategy to take them down than your average enemies, and usually involve simply dodging their attacks until they just happen to drop something inhalable that you can fire back - nothing too taxing really.
Each level has four different medals you can earn - alongside ones for taking out all enemies and collecting all the coins in a level, there's also ones for clearing a stage quickly and without taking any damage. These medals tie into the final score you get for each level, so it's well worth aiming for them along the way as best you can, perhaps even replaying a level a few times to get a better score - but as the game ramps up in difficulty from world to world, it can be a bit trickier to unlock those elusive bonus levels. As levels are fairly linear start-to-finish affairs, there's no need to head off track looking for hidden collectables and the like - something which has been a Kirby staple for years.
All in all, Kirby's Blowout Blast is a pretty nice little downloadable distraction that provides some quick-fire Kirby fun. A bit less traditional Kirby and a bit more like a brightly-coloured shooting range, it doesn't quite scratch that simple platforming itch, but it's not bad by any means, providing you don't mind a spot of score-chasing and level-replaying in order to unlock all the extra levels along the way.