Animal Friend Creation Finale

The Rainbow Resort Interactive Fandom If You Could Make an Animal Friend '08 Contest was the debut event for the fanatic creation contest showcase. Admittedly, it was a poor choice if not the poorest. Animal Friends aren't exactly something everyone is familiar with. They haven't been used as playable in a game for over ten years, and most people don't even know what characters are even in Kirby's Dream Land 3 at that. That includes major ones, too. Level bosses, the slimy sidekick, and other notable, stand out roles.

Regardless, I pressed on with the concept, hoping to oust some traditional fan who remembered the ol' days. It was probably a little selfish since the subject matter is something I like, but I wanted a topic that wouldn't be flooded with throngs of submittals. I wanted something mild to set precedent for the future. It wasn't as if people who had never played the games before would shrug and offer up a suggestion for an Animal Friend. ... Right?

Before I go any further, Dedede-Daimyo's Rolly won this competition in so many ways it isn't even funny. Did anyone even have any doubts to that fact? I was shuffling my feet about picking a victor, thinking to declare a tie, before that gem showed up. And it wasn't just my opinion, either. That entry had more votes showing how great everyone thought it was than any other entry. Actually, it just had more votes plain. Most others didn't raise over five and Rolly pulled out dozens.

Getting back on track, allow me to explain the examples I proposed. Lloyd the Griffon was offered as an example of a traditional pet. He had an obvious terrain/mobility specialty which, actually, was bridging two domains. He wasn't quite Rick, master on land, or Coo, lord of the skies, but he could join both as a type of 'tweener. Zoe the Bee was an example of an unridden pet, something more like what Pitch was. He didn't have much impact on the mundane motions taken by Kirby and largely functioned as a power amplifier. Lastly, Spunt the Dino was offered as a less than traditional pal. He could shield, inflate, and offered some typically different game play in ways other than just moving across the land. These concepts weren't entirely new, but they were new on the friend frontier.

I thought these would serve as a good source of what else there was. By and large, it seemed people thought that was all there was. A real, traditional pet was rarely offered. There were some that fit the bill quite nicely, such as Diddgery's Terry the Caribou and Mints' Kero the Tadpole. Even Hango the Panda struck me as interesting as did the robot... whose name escapes me.

Some of them, however, just seemed to not make sense, whether uninspired or just thrown up there for no reason with absolutely no thought behind them. I won't name names, but there are some general trends I didn't understand. The fact that there even were trends is a little alarming in the first place.

(1) Swimming better than Kine. Really? King of the sea? The best swimmer in the game? You think someone needs to be more specialized than Kine? The fish is about the set bar of how drastic a pet should go. Anything above that point is ludicrous. His land movement is abnormal and slowed and he can blow through even tough currents. I thought it wouldn't have even been needed to say, "Don't make anyone swim better than Kine" as I thought it would have been assumed. Mints' Kero tackled water travel well and originally. The submerged dash combines elements of unrelated situations nicely to create a new one. Just plain ol' stompin' Kine's capabilities just seems... wrong.

(2) Separation from Kirby. This goes hand in hand with the "Have you even played a game with Animal Friends in it?" It seemed disjoining from the player or acting as though the two had separate life bars was common. No matter which part of the pair received the hit, the damage gets ticked off of one life bar. Regardless, it seemed like protecting Kirby would lead to stopping harm in some way. Other times, he would just fall off or break the union for a short time. It wouldn't be like Rick throwing Kirby in any sense. It was more of pointless.

(3) Duck for cover. It seems I planted the seed for this recurring nightmare. I wanted Spunt to be able to avoid shots and, since those are normally able to be ducked, he would just guard his front. It was exactly what was seen with the Parasol ability, nothing new. However, it seemed to spawn the notion of Friends throwing themselves over Kirby to provide him protection. Well, it wasn't even that. Most of the time it was "added defense", as though it was an RPG and hits took away so much hit points, a system that I think was only used in Kirby Super Star. Spunt offered a block-or-hit, black & white shield feature. He could help deflect some attacks or it did nothing. Most damage in Kirby works on taking a pellet of life. This ducking guard was limited, functional, and modeled. Most submittals seemed to have a guard capability just for the sake of having a defense method, and it didn't clearly define what it was.

(4) It's super effective! I know there is an elemental effectiveness in the Kirby games, basic as it is. Fire, cold, electric, and that may be about it. It's a good trio. Still, it seemed that some pets went out of their way to mention "type effectiveness" on a grander scale than previously included in the games, bordering something more like an RPG. Hm, a trend within trends?

(5) Wheel. Yes, that's a trend. I put out there, "Hey, why limit yourself to just the eight or so abilities from the two Dream Land sequels? Go nuts!" For some reason, however, most people took this as, "Include Wheel." I don't really know why, either. Most of the Wheel abilities just seemed to be, well, regular wheel or cart wheeling. There wasn't anything fancy behind the technique. I don't get why that one stuck out over, say, Plasma or Laser.

(6) Meta Knight & Me, BFF. This one makes more sense to me, and it didn't even come up that often. More, it just irked me. For some reason, or a very transparent reason, if a character's name was going to appear in the brief descriptions, it was that of Meta Knight after Kirby. Only one, I believe, made it through. Most of these references and the affixed submission were pitched for a number of reasons.

(7) What do you mean "description"? Very few folks actually provided a meaningful description of their Friend. For the most part, the animal was provided, and it was assumed to be known what to look like after that. I tried hard to set a precedent with my examples, and the first few submissions followed the guidelines pretty well. Eventually, however, it broke down to "it's a typical ____". Not helpful. Would you say that Rick looks like a hamster? He resembles a snowman more than any time of animal. And Pitch, that guy is a ball.

(8) Byu! Byu! Bang! Bang! Shoot! So many abilities were just to shoot something. There wasn't anything other than that to it, either. It was just a shot. It didn't curve or follow a certain path, go at a weird angle. No, it would would just shoot forward. Some pets had this for several of their copy abilities. In fact that brings up...

(9) Template abilities. Some friends had abilittes that were the exact same thing but with a different element affixed to it. Granted, Pitch had some pretty similar attacks, but that doesn't give universal you the excuse to do that. Even worse, some wouldn't even both to go through the trouble of describing what each of those would be and just defaulted to, "Whatever the power is, the ___ is like that." If this was a body part, it'd get really interesting with Jet, huh?

And that's basically what I got from it. Again, I probably ask for too much. Again, I probably have my standards set to high. Again, I probably started Interactive Fandom off on the wrong foot. Despite the fact that this all seems to be a mostly negative opinion of the experience, it really isn't. I found what I wanted to find, the thing the contest was really about, what all of Interactive Fandom was about:

Fans who care. Some cared more than others, and some cared a lot more than others. Dedede-Daimyo wasn't the winner because of an amazing ten part picture nor because he chose Rolling Turtle as the basis, a mini-boss who, I admit, I pretty much hated before but now love. No, it was that he cared to do more. He wanted to do all the classic ability sets in an original way true to the Dream Lands rather than just shootin' stuff each time. He actually circumnavigated the entire submittal method and said, "No, I'm just emailing you the stuff so I can attach this picture." No dodging around stuff, no asking if he could or even how. He found the way and did it. Granted, the submittal system fixes the entries into a set HTML format, but this version was slightly broken. So, kiddies, don't think that'll get you any brownie points in the future.

I now know what I did wrong and where to put more emphasis or where to hold back details. Next time, it will be better. Now, I was planning on the next stage being Round Knights of the Table, giving fans the chance to make their knight enemies, the recent and unexpected appearance of Galacta Knight has, oh, soured this idea. The equally considered opinion, which has won the fence setting, Mini-Boss Mayhem is a full go.

Last Updated - October 6th, 2008