While Kirby’s Dream Land may be the first installment of the Kirby series, make no bones about it, THIS game is the first real Kirby game. This is the one that set the blueprint for all the Kirby games to come. Released in 1993 at the tail end of the NES’ run, it not only cemented Kirby’s place in Nintendo lore, it also gave folks a convincing reason to keep their NES systems around for a little longer.
The plot of the game is quite simple, by Kirby standards. Kirby is unable to dream and comes to find out that King Dedede has stolen the Star Rod and broken it up into seven different pieces, enlisting his minions to keep hold of them. Kirby travels throughout Dream Land to defeat the seven and put the Star Rod back together. Simple, right? Well, it turns out that King Dedede broke apart the Star Rod to save his people from the evil known as Nightmare. Maybe it wasn’t the most cunning plan, but you got to give him credit– he does care about his subjects. Once Nightmare invades, King Dedede then sets Kirby off with the Star Rod to go defeat Nightmare (in both forms). And then everybody lives happily ever after…at least until the next Kirby game.
The only complaint I really have is such a nitpick and comes from the result of playing almost every single Kirby game known to man– the controls. Having been so accustomed to the usual controls, I forget how to adjust to the NES controls. I keep wanting to press A twice to float but it’s not like that with the NES version. You’ve got to press up in order to start flying. Then you try to figure out how to dash and you can’t really press right twice at all. And on top of that, the transformations only have one real action, which can be a little tough to remember when you’re so used to having so many different actions per form.
That being said, once you get accustomed to it, it’s still just as much fun to play as it was when I was a kid. The graphics are pretty awesome even today, considering that this was released on NES. There’s actual textures and scenery to the game. The gameplay is still slick and still easy to maneuver (once again, once you get used to the controls), and it’s still just joy personified in a lot of ways. Some folks may give the game some grief for being “too easy,” and while you can breeze through quite a few levels, you try to tell me that Nightmare is a piece of cake to get through.
I actually have a minor confession to make– I actually had a hard time beating this game. I know, I know…but Nightmare is pretty hard. You try maneuvering through those little star bits, aiming to get a good shot on the ball of Nightmare. It took me longer than I’m proud of to finally defeat him. I felt like such an ass afterwards, but thankfully, my brother didn’t try to challenge me on it. Then again, he thought Kirby was for babies.
One thing that I like about the game is that it’s also the first instance of the Kirby series referencing itself. In the last level of the game, we play through Green Greens, the first level in Kirby’s Dream Land. Hearing that 8-bit goodness and the black and white colors really brings you back to the first time you played Kirby’s Dream Land. While I still argue that Kirby’s Adventure was the one that started it all, I still have a fond appreciation for the first one.
And how could I go without discussing the music? This game along with Final Fantasy were the two that opened my ears to video game music and made me realize that it’s more than just background music. The composer Hirokazu Ando did a great job bringing the mood to all the different levels, giving us an iconic soundtrack for the ages. No matter how many remixes I hear of the songs, I still love them, but I hold a special place for the 8-bit sounds that made me fall in love with the soundtrack. And I’m certainly not the only one who loves the music…just ask Wiz Khalifa, who sampled the World 4 music in his album. (Yes, this actually happened. He also sampled Chrono Trigger.)
Kirby’s Adventure is up there in my pantheon of All-Time Favorites which includes Super Mario Galaxy 2, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario Bros. 3, A Link to the Past, and Pokémon Blue/Red/Yellow (please don’t give me grief about two of these games being current). I wasted plenty of time when I was in 3rd grade playing this game– well, at least when I would be able to get the NES from my brother and sister’s hands.