Game: Hello Kitty World
Developer: Mario Co., Ltd.
Publisher: Character Soft
Release date: 1992
According to this 2011 article by Wired's Chris Kohler, Hello Kitty World was made by the folks at Nintendo (under the guise of Mario Co., Ltd.--with Mario Co., Ltd. being a joint venture between the Kyoto-based gaming giant and an advertising company known as Dentsu). That makes sense on a number of levels. For starters, there's the fact that Hello Kitty World, at its heart, is a console-based re-skin of Nintendo's should-have-become-a-classic GameBoy title, Balloon Kid. Also, there's the fact that this game is as fun and polished as can be--qualities that I consider to be part and parcel of pretty much every game Nintendo's ever produced.
Beyond the fact that Hello Kitty World is a Nintendo-made title, though, why should you care about it--especially if you're normally averse to anything featuring the nauseatingly cute cat made famous by the folks at Sanrio? Let's go back to Balloon Kid, the GameBoy cart I mentioned earlier, shall we? If you've never played that 1990 release, imagine Balloon Fight's "Balloon Trip" mode turned into a multi-stage platformer. And if you've never played "Balloon Trip," well, imagine a platformer that scrolls from right to left and that features a protagonist who relies more on a pair of balloons for getting around than her own two feet.
Playing this game is as simple as can be: while on the ground (sans balloons), you can jump (with the A button) or inflate balloons (by pressing down on the d-pad). While in the air, you can control your flight by pressing left or right on the d-pad and by pressing the A button (which causes you to flap your arms and helps you gain altitude). Oh, and pressing the B button while in the air releases your balloons so you can scamper around on the ground (assuming there's any beneath you).
Although you'll spend most of your time hammering the A button while playing Hello Kitty World--so you can avoid pesky enemies and obstacles, of course--you won't want to forget about the B button, especially during the every-other-level boss fights, each of which are both easier and more enjoyable if you fly above and then dive bomb said baddies.
Given all of the above, I'm guessing all of you (or at least a few of you) are wondering if I prefer this cute and colorful console release to its portable predecessor. To be honest, I don't. I like the art style used in Balloon Kid more than the one used here, plus I'm pretty fond of Alice, the star of the GameBoy title, while I'm not much of a fan of ol' Hello Kitty. That said, both games are well worth playing, so feel free to go with whichever one superficially appeals to you most.
See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts