WRITTEN BY SCOTT ROMERO
Kirby’s Dream Land
Platforms: GameBoy (1992), 3DS Virtual Console (2011) Price: $3.99
Dream Land is Kirby’s very first outing and just so happened to be on Nintendo’s first handheld console as well. The gameplay is mostly what you would expect in a 2D platformer of the early 90s, along with a few additional features. The two most notable features are Kirby’s ability to fly and the ability to suck up enemies and spit them out. Kirby’s famous move to copy enemies’ powers is absent in this release, making it one of the few games in the Kirby series to not have this feature. However, there are two items in the game that allow Kirby to shoot fireballs and continuously shoot puffs of air while flying, but these powerups only last for a short time. The game seems to play well on the 3DS through the Virtual Console. There were, however, a few areas that had some frame hiccups but they weren’t frequent enough to make it a huge issue. Using the circle pad on the 3DS also seemed to be problematic as it was causing Kirby to start floating away unintentionally. The audio, surprisingly enough, is what kicked the nostalgia in. That and Kirby’s end level dance were the triggers for me that brought back all those wonderful memories of playing Kirby games as a kid.
Verdict: My nostalgia for Kirby’s Dream Land might be out weighing the actual quality of the game. This shouldn’t exactly be a bad thing though. The game still holds up today and retains all the adorable charm that comes with a Kirby game, but the lack of the copy ability sets it back just a little bit. It feels more like it’s Kirby’s cousin rather than the Kirby we all know and love. Die hard Kirby fans will definitely get something out of Dream Land, but those new to Kirby might want to try a later game in the series and come back to see how Kirby started off.
Platforms: NES (1993), GameBoy Advance (2002), Virtual Console (2007), 3D Classics (2011) Price: $6.99 (3D Classics)
Kirby is back and quite possibly better than ever. Okay, that might be a bit of an overstatement but 3D Classics: Kirby’s Adventure is a fantastic remake of the NES game that came out back in 1993. This is the pink puff ball’s second outing and was his first appearance on the NES. All of the adorable Kirby-ness from Kirby’s Dream Land has come back and somewhat amplified now being in color. This is also the first Kirby game to feature his copy ability. There have been a few remakes of Kirby’s Adventure over the years but this one is as close to the original as you can get without dusting off an NES and booting it up. Obviously there are some differences between the 3D Classics version and the original; the most notable being the optional stereoscopic 3D mode, which works quite well. Most of the other differences are fixes for technical problems found in the original. Everything from the controls (now with custom configurations) to the audio plays smoothly on the 3DS.
Verdict: I’m not a fan of stereoscopic 3D, to say the least, but the 3D Classics remake of Kirby’s Adventure should be the standard for the 3D Classics game line. Honestly, I can’t think of anything wrong with this release. The team at Arika managed to remake the NES classic as faithfully as possible and still add some polish that makes this Kirby hard to pass up.
Kirby’s Pinball Land
Platforms: GameBoy (1993), 3DS Virtual Console (2012) Price: $3.99
Kirby’s Pinball Land is this first spinoff and third release overall in the Kirby series. The game features three main tables, each with there own theme from the previous Kirby games: Wispy Woods Land, Kracko Land, and Poppy Brother’s Land. Each table consists of four areas, three of which are sections of the table. The three main sections of the table are stacked vertically requiring the screen to scroll (or blink to the next section) when Kirby is sent out of frame. The top section of the table serves as the entrance to the boss area for that table. Once all three table bosses have been defeated, the infamous Warp Star wisps Kirby away to fight King Dedede. Pinball Land’s most interesting Kirby integration is how the ball save system works. If the balled up Kirby falls through all three sets of flippers, he lands on a platform. Similar to the end level sequence in Kirby’s Adventure, a timed button press will determine if the Kirby was in fact saved and how far he will be shot back onto the table.
Verdict: Pinball fans: It’s a pinball game with a coat of Kirby paint. Kirby fans: It’s a pinball game with a coat of Kirby paint. Bottom line: There is enough Kirby charm in this release to make it worth the while to those who like Kirby or pinball games. It is worth noting that the game engine used in this game was later used o make Pokemon Pinball, a game I played A LOT as a kid. Having missed out on Kirby’s Pinball Land when it was orginally released, I found that this game is surprisingly superior to Pokemon Pinball in almost every way.
Kirby’s Block Ball
Platforms: GameBoy (1995), 3DS Virtual Console (2012) Price: $2.99
Another Kirby inspired arcade classic spinoff, only this time it’s a breakout style game. Much like Kirby’s Pinball Land, the idea of a Breakout style Kirby game seems like a perfect fit for the little puff ball and in some respects it is. Kirby’s Block Ball has way more depth to it than just a simple Breakout game. There are a total of eleven stages, the eleventh being a bonus stage to unlock after beating the high score on the main ten. Each stage is accessed through a world map. All of the enemies in past Kirby games can be found throughout the various stages. Defeating enemies will drop items that simulate Kirby’s famous copy ability. While progressing through the game, the player will have more paddles to control. The paddles will be placed on each edge of the screen and opposite side are controlled simultaneously (left and right on the d-pad control the top and bottom edges, while up and down control the left and right edges).
Verdict: Breakout fans: It’s a Breakout game with a coat of Kirby paint. Kirby fans: It’s a Kirby game infused with Breakout style gameplay. Bottom line: Don’t let the lower price tag fool you. The liberties that HAL Laborartory took with the Breakout gameplay and infused Kirby into it in such a way that works surprisingly well. Kirby’s Block Ball is definitely more than just a coat of Kirby paint.
Kirby and the Amazing Mirror
Platforms: Game Boy Advance (2004), 3DS Virtual Console (2011) Price: Only available with 3DS Ambassador Program
Verdict: Considering the original was intended as a four player co-op game over single player makes this one a weird choice for Nintendo to give to early 3DS adopters for free. Additionally, the title slightly overstates the quality of the game. This isn’t to say the game is terrible, but it’s not exactly “amazing” either. The lack of multiplayer support in the 3DS version really hurts the overall appeal of the game when there is quite a bit of additional content that is just no fun without friends. All in all, the main game can be fun when played alone, but it still feels like it’s missing something.