Yesterday on Masahiro Sakurai’s YouTube channel, the director continued his chronological account of which games he’s directed this year, this time chronicling the beloved 2003 GameCube classic Kirby Air Ride. But contrary to what you might have presumed for the last Kirby game he’d direct, he didn’t have the director’s reins at first.
In the early 2000s, the Kirby anime (Kirby of the Stars/Kirby Right Back At Ya) was airing in Japan, and Nintendo was capitalizing on the boost in notoriety by producing multiple Kirby titles during the period. Sakurai was overseeing all these titles (Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland, Kirby & The Amazing Mirror, a canceled GameCube platformer, and of course Kirby Air Ride), but Air Ride development wasn’t going great. After a year of him delegating notes and feedback, not even one Warp Star (kart) in the game worked properly. At the request of the lead programmer, Sakurai donned his director hat once more and rebuilt the game from scratch, finishing in an astounding 3.5 months. Obviously, a lot had been done beforehand, but this is a very impressive turnaround.
Be sure to check out the full video for more of Sakurai’s thoughts and tidbits about the game, from it being the first time he used a “checklist” style progression system to how he implemented all the different Warp Star types.
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