I reviewed 8-bit Music Power earlier this year, a new software title for the Famicom. Now, Riki has produced another title named Kira Kira Star Night under Columbus Circle, and this time it’s an actual game rather than a music album in cartridge form.
Before we start the game up, let’s check whether or not the hardware we have in our hands is as terrible as last time. If you want to be spoiled, the answer is a surprising No.
The box for the game is same size as with 8Bit Music Power, which is slightly larger than the Famicom cartridge itself, but smaller than the standard FC box as it doesn’t come with a plastic tray. I would prefer if the next release would finally replicate proper FC dimensions, but at that point they might as well keep doing this. It does seem there also exists a hard case version, which is in the same size and dimensions as Namcot’s hard cases. Sadly, getting your hands on these versions you’ll need to go through some hoops and loops.
This time the cartridge feels much better. It’s not cheap and oily like the last one, but feels like proper PVC with textured surface like with licensed FC carts. The moulded circle name on the top left is a nice throwback where companies tended to mould their logos. Back’s the same deal, texturing and all. This is a massive improvement over 8bit Music Power‘s in every regard as it feels like it should. Let’s see how the shell stands opening up.
Because the cartridge is so much better, it took some work to pop it open. However, after opening the thing I was met with some weird white powdery gunk near the component up there, which doesn’t really fulfil me with confidence, but the game works, so it can’t be a blown up capacitor. The contacts are shiny, reflecting me and the camera. Something Columbus Circle’s last release didn’t do.
You can see the same white stuff on the left, so I’m going to go on a limb and assume it’s nothing negative. Overall, the construction this time looks far more solid that previously. If you want to take a closer look at the capacitor at the top, here’s a close up. Both of the chips are multi-purpose flash memories, and their .pdf files are readily available online if you want to give them a look.
The design work here is simply up to standards now. Popping the cartridge back together is just slightly more troublesome than with a standard cartridge. That’s just better, as the cartridge feels very solid due to this. Hell, it rattles less than a standard FC cartridge, which is a plus.
The manual that comes with Kira Kira is sadly monochrome and has the usual basic info. This sort of release really should go all out with full-colour manuals, but I guess you have to safe money somewhere down the line.
Kira Kira Star Night is more or less a Caravan tournament game. If you’re not familiar with the term, Hudson Soft had Caravan versions or Modes in their shooting games like Star Force or Gunhed Taikai. These would have few minute time limit, in which the player would aim for the highest possible score. That in mind, Kira Kira has ten stages where your main goal is to get the highest score by collecting stars. Each stage has progressively higher count you need to collect under the allotted time, and when achieving this number the timer will speed up and you have a chance to collect extra stars. Give this preview a go to see what’s it like.
That’s the game, essentially. It’s more or less a vehicle for the music and a sort of throwback to Caravan games, thou I’d like to see these guys making a shooting game. As you can see, the visual flavour aims to be very bubblegum pink and cute. In-game this is more or less achieved, thou the colour selection doesn’t really hit up there all the time.
Stages, while being just flat surfaces, do look nice and often see that faux-parallax scrolling. FC/NES couldn’t do parallax scrolling, but some games could create backgrounds that gave that impression, Sword Master being just one example. Some of the colour selections are a bit questionable, and the player character’s sprite is a bit wonky with surprisingly toned down pallet instead of bright pink. Might have to do something with the FC colour palette.
As for the music, it’s great. Unlike with 8bit Music Power, no song in Kira Kira Star Night DX makes me cringe. There’s no tricky tracks for the sake of gimmicky soundchip use that sound terrible, but on the other hand there is only one or two songs that instantly stroke a chord with me. At first it might seem like there is no way to just listen to the music but after you clear the game once, you get a cheat to enter Debug menu to access Sound Test and Graphics viewer.
As for the story of the game, I’d recommend you to read the official site for it. Despite it calling the player character as Fami-chan, the manual calls her Kirara-chan. Take that as you will, but that’s pretty much for the software part of the game. It works and it’s surprisingly fun.
This game is a niche product, hitting with Famicom and NES enthusiasts who like the idea of a new software for the thirty-some years old console. As a game it’s lacking, but that’s not why a title like this is bought. It’s a collectible, after all. It’s the idea that sells with Kira Kira Star Night DX, and while the gameplay is rather basic, that doesn’t keep it from being fun.
Unlike with 8bit Music Power, construction doesn’t keep me from recommending this. The lack of actual content does, but seeing this is essentially a homebrew release made as a vehicle for the music and produced in relatively short time, I could say that if you want to spend a bit more money on the idea of a new FC/NES game and have a way to play it, you just might be the niche consumer Kira Kira Star Night DX made for. There are still some left on Play-Asia, but this is the sort of item that won’t see a new production run any time soon, if ever.