so i actually played kirby’s dream land the day i decided to set aside f-zero GX. i suppose i was in the mood for something fluffier and easier, and so even though i’d been quite disappointed with kirby’s dream land 2 i picked the original up. part of it, i suppose, is that i was interested in seeing how they would compare since i knew the original game was before kirby had developed his now trademark “copying” ability.
i hadn’t had high hopes, but surprise, surprise, i much preferred this game to its sequel. i’m sure i’m going to be in a minority on this, but the blatant “try and die” game mechanics which really detracted from the sequel were nowhere to be seen here. to clarify what i mean: in the sequel there’s one section where the screen forces you to move to the left and you’re constantly having to choose between two paths that look equally plausible. so if a player picked randomly, on average he or she would have to waste 4 or 5 lives getting through this level. no skill involved whatsoever, just dumb chance. other sections were less blatant than this, but similarly annoying.
in contrast, in this game there’s just good, solid, old-fashioned 2D platforming. colorful characters, fun boss fights, and good gameplay mechanics. there’s no doubt that the fact the game is only four levels long limits its appeal, but the big surprise for me was that after you beat it the game provides a code to access the hard mode. the hard mode is really what elevates this game from a bit of genial distraction from a now well-established franchise to a really respectable game in its own right. the harder mode includes more aggressive enemies that take off twice as much energy and boss fights which, while featuring the same characters, are in two out of the four cases considerably different and in all of the cases definitely more challenging. continues are less forgiving as well, as you’ll have to start at the beginning of the level instead of the last screen you were on if you lose all your lives. luckily this doesn’t apply to the final boss fight. before beating the final boss you have to encounter the previous four bosses again, but fortunately if you get trounced by the final boss you don’t have to re-fight the four others. all in all a pretty worthwhile way to spend a few hours.
i’ve mentioned the great kirby site at classicgaming.gamespy.com. their page for the game is great as well. they also have a nice “gameology” and some interesting info about kirby’s creator and why he was dissatisfied with the video game industry (much of which i completely agree with). and to close here’s a link to a good FAQ at ign.
i’ve been really enjoying these straightforward game boy games. as with some other things in life, length really isn’t necessarily the biggest factor (haha). i have some more game boy games lined up, although i should probably start playing through the SNES games i’ve gotten recently. hmm …