Watching The Hype Train Pass Me By (Except for Kirby Games, Apparently)

I am not a great follower of video game news. I find hype of all sorts odious when it is manufactured to create a buzz for something that does not yet exist in the hands of the audience, and that seems to be almost the entirety of video game marketing these days. As a result, I’ve grown accustomed to finding out about the release of games I’ve been anticipating in the last week or two before their release. Most of my friends even know not to include me in their hype events or discussions unless there’s something concrete for us to discuss like a release date, an actual gameplay trailer, or a demo. I’ve made my peace with living on my back foot like this, to finding out about games sometimes long after they’ve released, and I feel now that it isn’t a bad way to live.

Since I am so checked out of the video game news cycle during the year, I am always eager to read, watch, or listen to every single “top X games of 202Y” piece of media released in late December and early January. At this point in the year, most people have figured out which games are actually good and which games were passing fads that have fallen out of popularity. People can tell you which games are worth a play despite how clunky they might seem from the outside and which games got turned around from terrible releases thanks to proper post-release support from the developers. It is a smorgasbord of great games delivered to me in nice researchable lists that contain highlights, reviews, and generally very few spoilers.

As the year ends and I consider what things I have that I have avoided purchasing due to the nature of the winter holidays, I comb through these lists and reviews for a half-dozen or so games that seem like just the thing for me, put them on various lists or in various shopping carts, and then wait for them to go on sale or until I’ve made my way through whatever other game I’ve been playing. While my emotional and mental exhaustion from the past few weeks has delayed this moment for me, I’ve finally begun idly starting my list this week and anticipate continuing to expand it as the month goes on. My budget is a bit more limited this year than in years past, thanks to my recovering financial situation, but I should still be able to pick up quite a few lovely games in the coming months.

Additionally, as I compile this list and look toward when I will have the budget to spend on them, I find myself navigating around a few fixed points for the year. There is the Pokémon Legends game coming out in a couple weeks, which I feel uncertain about. My current attitude is “it’s a Pokémon game, so of course I’m gonna get it and enjoy it. Of course. A lifetime of Pokémon makes that abundantly clear.” But I find myself not quite excited for it. Sometimes, I barely even feel interested. Each new Pokémon game seems to come with some new bullshit controversy that will play itself out many times in the various social media circles I live in, and I have to admit the sheer anger of these few but very loud people is off-putting. Someday, people will learn to stop dunking on trolls because that just gives them the attention they want, but I do not think it will happen in my lifetime.

What I am excited about, though, is the new Kirby game. It finally got a release date just recently, and since it is a Nintendo release date, I feel a great degree of confidence that it will actually release on that day. My history with Kirby games is not as deep or complete as my history with Pokémon or Legend of Zelda games, but I have always enjoyed every Kirby game I’ve played. I remember Kirby’s Dreamland (though I can’t recall which number) on the Gameboy, Kirby and the Crystal Shards on the N64, Kirby Air Ride on the gamecube (a near-endless source of fun for my high school best friend and I between our long-standing Super Smash Brothers feuds), and then (much more recently) Kirby Star Allies on the Switch. All great experiences, all great games I’ve gone back to many times.

I am INCREDIBLY excited for the new game (much more so than when I started writing this post because the more I think about it, the more excited I get) coming out in March and I find it very difficult to stick to my decision to avoid the hype train. I want to watch every video about it ever released, read every single stupid analysis article, watch fan theory videos, and, in general, just dive into it so deeply I never find the surface again. Staying in the real world can be incredibly difficult when dreamland is only one google search away. Still, all it will do in the long run is get me super excited and then leave me unable to do anything but re-watch those videos for two months. Maybe in the last week before the game comes out, I’ll let myself indulge. Which feels a bit weird to say and think about since this isn’t the sort of game I plan to take a day off of work to enjoy. Kirby games are much quieter, more chill than that. They’re peaceful, cheerful, and just pleasant to play with fun music that never gets too dramatic. And sure, the plot is always fairly simple, but Animal Crossing’s plot is “capitalism/homeownership, the game” and people love the shit out of that series.

Anyway, I don’t enjoy the hype train (and I understand that its a personal opinion thing, so do whatever you like), Kirby games are just so pleasant, and maybe if everything was as calm as a Kirby game, the world might be a better place.

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