KIRBY IN SONIC THE HEDGEHOG / Lone Devil / Sega Genesis
I've wrestled with the early Sonic games all my life. I've never really liked them all that much, outside of appreciating the technical prettiness of them on the frequently drab Genesis. Given the overwhelming love for them from pretty much everyone else, however, I keep feeling like I'm somehow just personally missing something key to the experience.
Maybe the answer is Sonic himself? I've never liked his jankity jumping, the "rings" system of handling enemy damage or his propensity to throw himself into underwater levels where he CLEARLY doesn't belong. So what if we swapped in a character that changed all that? Would it improve the experience, at least for me personally?
With Kirby tagged in, the answer is yes! Well, at least up until Marble Zone 3, where the game starts glitching to the point that you can't finish the level. But prior to that I was enjoying it more than I ever enjoyed the original Sonic.
Kirby is integrated pretty much seamlessly here, but that's done by not changing the fundamental gameplay very much. The levels and enemy placement don't appear to have been altered significantly. The biggest change is that pressing down+jump causes Kirby to do his patented vacuum attack, which will suck in any enemies and power-ups nearby (but not rings). Sucking an enemy in just auto-kills them when they hit Kirby; you can't ingest enemies for their power or transform in any way.
Kirby also gets a number of little boosts and perks to make his road a little easier. He can't float, but he can do a double-jump. He also apparently doesn't need to breathe, and the oxygen bubbles have been entirely surgically removed from the underwater bits of the game. You also don't drop rings when getting hit -- damage simply depletes your life stock by one, and you'll only return to a checkpoint if killed by the environment in some way like getting crushed or falling off the edge of the map. To compensate, Kirby starts with more lives and they're easier to get via points, randomized item pickups and touching the checkpoint poles.
I opted to NR this one as I was really enjoying it up to the final Marble Zone act, to which point there were no problems whatsoever. But about halfway through that level, for whatever reason spikes and traps start just sort of appearing at random in midair as you move around, and you eventually hit a point where a conveyor that is completely necessary to progress will never spawn. So that's the end of the game right there for all intents and purposes. Had it NOT crapped out I was going to give it a 4/5 for actually improving the Sonic experience for players like me who want to take it slower and explore levels. Glitches aside, the graphical integration of Kirby is really impressive, and I'd love to come back to this if it's ever fixed/finished.
* Creator's homepage
- they also did one of these for Sonic 2