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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Yes In My Backyard: Dilapidated Houses in the City Trial

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Regretting your policies around affordable housing, eh King Dedede?

Time to tackle an issue that's vexed me for over a decade now: On what basis are those crap-mounds in Kirby Air Ride's City Trial mode supposed to be houses? Yes, they're referred to as “dilapidated houses” (meaning the houses have all fallen into disrepair), but how were these supposed to be houses to begin with?

Kirby Air Ride City Trial dilapidated houses mud metal bricks
Kirby observing these crappy houses (and standing on one) about two Kirby in height.
There's no doors, though apparently the circles are windows.
One wonders how these were so haphazardly constructed, with all of the different materials seemingly stitched together.
What are these made of and how would anyone live in them?

These houses were constructed, a few dozen of them, right outside of the main part of the City. The common objection existing residents have to building low-income/affordable housing units is that, while the folks in the municipality mean well, they just don't want them in their backyard (“not in my backyard”, or NIMBY). The people already living in the city or owning property there are commonly worried that development of these buildings will lower the value of the existing property, and real-estate is a large part of people's wealth. (Hence why a wealth tax to be paid on a cash basis is stupid.) They're also concerned that affordable housing will bring in a lot of riff-raff into the area. Crime and stuff. Sort of the same reason that building gambling establishments like casinos and horse-tracks in municipalities get objected to. 

Governments put together all kinds of rules and regulations to mess up the housing market and create an artificial scarcity in housing, thus increasing the value of the existing homes and contributing to a supply-demand in-balance. That results in either homelessness or poor people trying to live elsewhere that's more accommodating to building houses. Regulations may include superfluous environmental impact studies, zoning laws, impossible building codes (grandfathering in existing places), arbitrary permitting processes, and more. This obviously raises the cost of development far past the actual construction, so it doesn't get built.

As for the City, King Dedede apparently waived the concerns of the two paragraphs above and ignored the NIMBY people. ...But I guess the houses are so awful and then not maintained that no one is living in them. Then they're just a blight on the City, as the NIMBY-ers said would happen. Thus, they've tasked Kirby with their destruction.

Kirby Air Ride City Trial checklist destroy all of the dilapidated houses
It's a literal achievement to “Destroy all of the dilapidated houses!”
And, yes, I haven't 100%-ed Kirby Air Ride.

Kirby Air Ride has three modes, but the only mode you'll hear anyone discuss is City Trial. But all three modes have a 120-item checklist (colloquially later known as the Sakurai checklist). Some have rewards (the red boxes). Some are just necessary for completion (the green boxes). You'll know what the criteria is for completing each achievement if you clear an achievement adjacent to it. 

There's a lot going on in the achievement around the dilapidated houses. This is the only time in the game or anywhere where it identifies what the blobs in the first screenshot are. If not for the checklist, no one would know those are houses. In fact, before I completed the achievement and it was still a grey box on the checklist, I had no idea where I could find houses in the City. One day I just happened to destroy them all while playing it, and then it unlocked. But even then, I didn't realise those things were houses. I thought it just unlocked for me, somehow. If you want to know what an actual house is supposed to look like in Dream Land, Kirby has a nice one with a door.

But when you do destroy one of the houses while playing City Trial, there's a clapping/applause sound effect that accompanies the destruction of the house. The game gives you audio feedback to encourage the obliteration of the houses!

The achievement has a specific reward behind it, “Hydra Part X: Use 3 to complete Hydra.” There are other rewards for Hydra Parts Y and Z. Getting all three allows you to use the Hydra in Free Run, a sub-mode of City Trial without a timer or stat pick-ups. Very valuable reward, since the Hydra is a legendary machine just like the Dragoon, which you may recognise from the Super Smash Bros. titles. Most of the checklist achievements don't have rewards behind them, so the fact that there is one for destroying these houses shows how important this task is for the people of the City.

Update 10/27/2019: Forgot to mention—there is a Stadium called Destruction Derby 5. The Destruction Derby series pits Kirby vs. Kirby vs. Kirby vs. Kirby in timed fights in an arena. The fifth and final arena is set right in the dilapidated housing area—other arenas include locales like a volcano. The housing project is of so little and wasted use that its best use is as an abandoned area to let thugs fight it out! /end update

I consider this whole thing to be a classic government mismanagement. King Dedede wanted to build affordable houses to show what a great ruler he is. The government doesn't know how to do construction, especially not Dedede's. The houses are built, but are so terrible that no one goes to live in them. Not having doors and having such low ceilings will do that. In fact, they'd rather live/squat in what appears to be one of King Dedede's castles in the Kirby Melee 2 stadium activity. (King Dedede subsequently wishes for Kirby to destroy the poor Cappies and other denizens living there.) With the houses being an eyesore to the City, everyone offers a reward to Kirby to tear down the houses. In the end, nothing of use was accomplished, and a lot of resources were wasted in the name of trying to do good deeds.

I suggest just letting the market figure this out, and eliminate zoning requirements and other regulations that prohibit new construction. Supply and demand will get an optimal price point for even low-income Cappies to afford a place to live, and the quality of the construction will surely be much better than those ugly mounds.

Ludwig wishes there was more lore involved with the City in City Trial, and Kirby Air Ride in general. For whatever reason, he still has his GameCube plugged in and decided to write an article about Kirby Air Ride after recording this video of Kirby with a yarmulke with the Jewish-sounding Item Bounce theme playing, wishing for a good holiday. Do you think those houses look like houses? Are they better off destroyed? Are you surprised by King Dedede's good intentions? Let Ludwig know your thoughts in the comments section, and you too can get a subsidy by winning this month's KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program round.

For a discussion from Masahiro Sakurai about Kirby Air Ride, click here. Item Bounce is included.

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