This is usually our go-to game when I visit my cousins. I played a lot of it this past weekend, and I've come to the conclusion that I love 1/3 of this game: Top ride mode. This mode plays like an old-school top down racer. I find it a ton of fun to race on these short courses and try to beat my best times.
There's one main gameplay mechanic in this game, and it involves only using the A button to charge, the rest is just gliding along. This really only serves the game well in top ride mode, and a movie in the game explains that you glide on the straightaways while charging, and boost around corners. Really fun to try and get the hang of.
The same mechanic feels awkward to use in the Mario kart-style air ride mode though. You use the same A button to use Kirby's signature copy ability, which makes things hectic. Most fans of this game will tell you the city trial mode is the best part of the game, but I find it pretty hectic as well.
There's also a checklist with challenges for each mode. The critic wrote a review of the game that was pretty spot-on.
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I agree to top ride is fun but I suggest giving city trial another try if you have only played it a bit. It's a ton of fun to explore the city and level up your ride and every play is different. The mini games at the end are kind of lame but the main fun is in exploring the city and fighting your fellow riders as you encounter them across the city. It was my favorite part of the game. The main racing mode is definitely the weakest aspect of the game though.
If I recall correctly, this is one of the few games to use the Gamecube internet adapter (but I think it was for LAN play or something). I think even a few years ago there was some method to still play it online by downloading some software or something to trick the computer into playing a LAN party with people online.