Classic Review: Kirby’s Adventure (1992)
Classic Review is a new segment on GamePlayer in which we review older games which we think are fun/groundbreaking/terrible or overrated. It can be a place to trash the classics or just a reminder for some of the great games out there that haven’t been made in the last 2 years.
Kirby’s Adventure on the Nintendo Entertainment System is part of a very successful series of games all based around the title character. In this particular game Kirby awakes from an afternoon nap without having had any dreams (in a place called ‘Dreamland’ – which is the first title in the series – this is pretty serious). So Kirby goes on an epic quest tracking down the main bosses throughout the game, the final boss being the one and only, King Dedede. With each defeated boss Kirby gets back a magic wand and when they are all combined they can grant dreams back to the land.
The story line of this game is pretty engaging as far as platformers go. It may feel fairly generic to a contemporary audience, but as one of the first of its kind the straightforward cause (a need for an adventure) and effect (undertaking said adventure) plot to save the day does its job nicely, despite obvious similarities to the likes of Super Mario. The fact that Kirby’s storyline completely strays from reality allows for phenomenal gameplay. Not only are your enemies bizarre creatures, but also you get to play a pink marshmallow-esque creature that can suck in air to fly, or suck in your enemies to consume their powers or spit them out as stars. It is this old-school Japanese fantasy that truly separates this game from the crowd. And in today’s world in which we receive brown game after brown game, it is refreshing to return to a style that has been lacking in the last 10 years since the Dreamcast, previous Sega consoles and the infancy of Nintendo.
The ability to consume your enemies’ powers is a simple and effective way to keep the game fresh because harder enemies with better powers appear throughout the game, and therefore allow you to gain much cooler and more powerful abilities. Also the various mini-boss and boss battles throughout the game are original (for example the first major boss is a tree who drops apples at you, which you suck in and spit back as stars to damage him). It is this wacky sensibility and variation between landscapes (which due to the story can be and become increasingly fantastical) throughout the seven worlds that keeps it engaging throughout.
If you have ever played and enjoyed any Super Mario title but not this game, it is a must play, as they both are enormous influences on platforming games and the gaming industry as a whole. Also Kirby’s is an early example of a title using mini-game’s as a means to help the progression of the game (by gaining 1ups and points), which have remained a part of the gaming world and entirely influenced the party-game genre. The use of mini-games is a small touch which keeps the gameplay fresh and makes the game that much more addictive. For those unfamiliar with the original Kirby series you may still have recognised the title character as well as King Dedede from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. This is particularly appropriate because designer Masahiro Sakurai is responsible for both. So if you like your Smash Bros. (which I will go ahead and assume you do because let’s face it, who doesn’t?) go play the game where it all started.
Written by Joel Hagen