First you draw a circle, then you dot the eyes. Add a great big smile and presto, it’s Kirby! Those are the detailed instructions at the beginning of Kirby’s Adventure, the full color sequel to Kirby’s Dreamland for the Gameboy, and they couldn’t be more accurate. Simple you say? That’s because Kirby is simplicity itself: a little pink creampuff eating things and kicking ass.
In Kirby’s Adventure, you take on the role of brave Kirby, the fluffy little balloony guy entrusted with the task of once again saving Dream Land from the rule of the evil King Dedede. Dedede has put a crab in everyone’s jammies by screwing with the Dream Spring. That’s the thingamajig that supplies the inhabitants of Dream Land with their pleasant dreams of shoe endorsements and buxom happy-faced orb chicks. Dedede yoinked the Star Rod that powers the Dream Spring, broke it into seven pieces and gave them to a few of his nefarious friends. Kirby’s gotta retrieve the pieces and, presumably, put the sucker back together and get folks fantasizing again. That’s pretty much all I know about the plot and I had to look that up in the manual. It’s not that important, really. You’re not here for complexity. You’re here for the enemy gulpin’ action.
Wait, “a crab in everyone’s jammies”? That’s not a phrase… That’s sick.
Anyway, good ol’ Kirby is one role model who ain’t afraid to admit he inhales. The K man can suck in any enemy in the game. But unlike his Gameboy debut, this title perfects the formula by allowing Kirby to assume the special abilities of any enemy he consumes. According to the manual, Kirb’s got more than twenty to choose from. Off the top of my head, there’s fire, flame, needle, spark, high jump, freeze, ice, ball, blast, wheel, fireball, throw, laser, rock, hammer, sword, cutter, tornado, microphone, and the oddest of them all, UFO. That adds up to a hell of a lot of variety and a damn fun little game.
The control scheme is a variation on the intuitive scheme of its handheld predecessor. The B button inhales. Once you’ve got an enemy in your maw, you can swallow the sucker by pressing down, or spit him out as a star-shaped projectile by pressing B again. Down and A performs a slide kick that’ll blow up certain blocks as well as destroying your opponents. And up allows you to inhale air and float around to cause some airborne mischief.
Levels are standard platformer fare. You’ve got your pits, your tunnels, your hidden doors, your tomato-shaped power ups, your jungle level, your desert level, your spooky castle level, your airship level. It’s all here and done right. Admittedly, pits don’t matter so much when you can fly, which is why they’re few and far between. This takes a bite out of the challenge level, but it’s really not an issue. Kirby never touts itself as anymore than light silly fun with just the right amount of difficulty to keep you interested. There’s even a bit of strategy involved when it comes to deciding which powers to give up and which bad guys to eat to best face your next challenge.
Adding more variety to the experience are three types of bonus levels, usually unlocked by hidden in-game switches. In Crane Fever, you guide a vending machine claw in an attempt to grab a Kirby. Little ones give you an extra life, big ones give you two. In Egg Catcher, King Dedede tosses both bombs and eggs your way. The more eggs you eat, the more extra lives, but eat a bomb and that’s that. Finally, there’s my favorite game, Quick Draw Kirby, wherein cute li’l Kirby in his cute li’l cowboy hat tries to outgun several of Dedede’s friends. Additionally, there is the Museum, a room with a few docile bad guys Kirby can eat to easily acquire a special ability, and the Arena where our hero must fight one of the previous level baddies to win the chance to steal his power.
Graphically, Kirby’s Adventure rocks. It should, it was one of the last NES games produced. The SNES was already in full swing by the time Kirby’s Adventure reared its cute li’l head, but considering the NES’s limitations, this game really shines. Worlds are vibrant and fairly detailed, enemies look both vicious and precious, and Kirby’s wide assortment of attack animations are spot on. The sound’s equally solid. All the effects are cute and the tunes are bouncy and catchy.
Though Mario and his ilk had already kick-started the genre, Kirby all but defines what a platformer should be. Happy-go-lucky hero saves his entire world from certain doom and visits every videogame convention along the way. It’s an easy play for most gamers, but there’s enough fun here to keep you occupied and entertained for the duration. If you have any affection for the platformer genre, do yourself a favor and get Kirby.
Graphic blob-creature sex… no, wait, it’s just a really fun little adventure that platformers old and new can aspire to.
Seasoned players will coast right through, but this is hardly an issue.
“I didn’t have any dreams during my lunch nap!” –Kirby