Kirby's Adventure
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  • Nintendo
  • Nintendo
  • Adventure - Side-Scrolling / Platform (example - Mario)
  • May 1993
  • 1
  • Battery
  • 3
  • $9.00
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9  |  Saving Dreamland One Snack At A Time
Dezoris , 9/14/2008 12:43:46 PM

Kirby's Adventure in game shot.  - kirbys_adventure.gif

Kirby’s Adventure is a game that truly deserves epic status. And if you’re surprised to hear that, you’re probably one of the many people that have never touched it. Which is amazingly not uncommon. I am still overwhelmed by how many people (more hardcore gamers than myself) that have not had the pleasure of digesting their enemies and stealing their abilities. This review could be pages upon pages of admiration, but let’s keep things blunt and get down to business.


Gameplay: 10/10

At heart, Kirby is a platform adventure game. But below that lies a creative and inspired world that makes you wish you could run off into the background and discover even more of Hal Laboratory’s vision. Each level is woven together in a specific order that is uncovered new doors within a series of seven different world maps. Along the way you’ll find a variety of fun mini games, boss battle arenas, and baddy museums. This balance of level progression and side items ensures you won’t get bored at any point along Kirby’s travels. Plus, your progress is automatically saved to one of three game slots in the cartridge, so you never have to sweat turning off the power button for the night.

The things that make Kirby stand head and shoulders above other platform games are the following: you can fly, swallow and spit objects, and copy enemy powers. Might not sound too earth-shattering, but I assure you the fun is almost infinite because of the well-balanced control scheme, gameplay, and level designs. I’ve often had a dislike for pure platform games because of the high probability of falling into the abyss and having to often times start over from the very beginning of the level. Kirby avoids this pitfall (pun grossly intended) by, at any time, being able to open wide and grab a big breath of air rendering him light as a feather. Although he’s not as agile as Raccoon Mario, Kirby can bob up and down endlessly until you spit out the air and continue your ground assault. You could even opt to fly through an entire level, though you’ll be challenged by enemies that expect such cowardly tactics.

In addition to bulking up with oxygen, Kirby can also inhale blocks and enemies throughout the game and choose to either mercilessly devour them or turn them into speeding projectiles. This functionality alone is what has made Kirby so fun to play but, as I discovered in the horrible GameBoy Kirby title, doesn’t do enough to keep you coming back for more. That’s where the NES Kirby takes a wonderfully creative twist. Many of the enemies, including mini-bosses can be consumed and devoured, giving Kirby the ability (or abilities!) that enemy possessed. The fact that there are roughly 50 different attainable powers is more than enough gameplay variety and proves just how much of a Pokemon killer this cuddly little puff can be. I won’t go into incredible  detail regarding the powers at Kirby’s disposal, because discovering them is half the fun. But, to not leave you wanting, here’s a sample list of what you’ll wield during your travels: fire, ice, sparks, bombs, swords, boomerangs, lasers, oh my! These powers are plentiful and you’ll often times find yourself having to choose whether to retain your current ability or drop it in favor of another. In fact, if you’re really clever, you can swallow two enemies at once and get a chance to “mix” their powers which results in a slot machine wheel that will grant Kirby a completely random ability!

The combat in the game is as versatile as the powers you can acquire. Many foes have scripted attacks, but others reacts to Kirby’s presence and might even attempt to chase him across the level, which creates a very unique experience and fun gameplay. The mini-bosses and main map bosses also add to this complexity. Some may have a particular vulnerability, others will require brute force to defeat. All of these encounters are further varied based on what abilities you chose to enter the arena with.


Game Design: 10/10

I can’t praise Kirby’s Adventure enough for it’s beautiful artwork and imaginative scenery. With a creative style that rivals Yoshi’s Island of the SNES, you’ll be discovering levels from open plains, to icy tundras, to pirate ships! The complexity and talent that went into the entire game means that there is almost as much excitement in the background as you will in the foreground. Traveling between levels is a pleasure as well because you can explore the ever-expanding map with doors that disappear into the background. And at the end of each level you’ll drop onto a magical spring board that lets you prompts you to “Press A” at the right time to get launched up ten flights of clouds to try and earn an extra life. This is a plentiful reward that comes in handy if you choose to play the game in “Difficult” mode, which only grants Kirby a maximum of three health points.


The HUD is straightforward and seems to pay tribute to the original GameBoy Kirby with it’s monochromatic coloring. There’s even a nice image panel that displays a photo of Kirby with his current power (or a sudden “OUCH” if you get bonked by an enemy). My only complaint is that the HUD feels a little too big, and it would have been great to use some of that space to expand the game world even more than it already is.


Controls: 10/10

The control scheme for Kirby is as fluid as the gameplay itself. Simple, yet robust controls let you quickly jump, dash, float, and drop without the frustration of hunting for the right button. With Kirby’s ability to fly comes in the important perspective of having air-control whether you’re floating or falling. This is another area where Kirby’s control scheme excels and feels completely satisfying, even with something as simple as the NES controller. Kirby’s response time is perfect and is delightfully realistic when he slows to a stop, dashes from a standing position, or even comes to sudden halt as he squishes into a wall, complete with a tiny star bump animation. And if all his powers weren’t enough already, you can even crouch and perform a SubZero-like slide to assault your foes.


Replay Value: 9/10

It’s incredibly difficult to NOT want to pick up this game and start chomping. Heck, even if you don’t want to begin a new save file, the entire game up to the level you’ve cleared is available for you to revisit. You’ll find yourself hopping between maps, battling bosses, and stealing enemies from museums just for the fun of it. An Extra Game also becomes available if you beat the game on Normal difficulty, so there is an added challenge to replay the entire game with limited health and nastier enemies.


Graphics: 10/10

Kirby’s Adventure has the benefit of being a later title on the NES and, as such, really finds creative ways to bleed every last inch of hidden power in the hardware. There are vivid colors used throughout the game, some changing mid-level. Not to mention subtle touches like Kirby’s myriad of changing appearances as he consumes different enemies. Other advanced features like parallax scrolling in the background elements really brings the world of Dreamland to life.


Music: 9/10

I absolutely love the music throughout this entire game. Although some might find the instrumentation a bit too bubbly (and I can agree at times), it is through-and-through an incredible achievement for NES soundtracks. The game has nearly as many unique song tracks as a typical MegaMan game, and they all fit the atmosphere perfectly. Some are fast paced and fun, while others are slow, dreamy tracks that become creepier as you approach the end of the game. The level of detail and length of each track really illustrates the talent and conduction that went into packaging this game.


Sound: 9/10

I’m never blown away by sound effects in older generations, but Kirby’s Adventure is definitely a game that succeeds in delivering fun and unique sounds from the smallest bounce, to the most monstrous cannon blast. And considering all the individual sounds required to accomplish the huge variety of attacks, power-ups, and enemy behaviors, I think Kirby’s Adventure does not disappoint.


Conclusion: 9/10

Kirby’s Adventure requires brief conclusion. It is an absolute masterpiece not only for the NES, but developer Hal Laboratory. It is simply without flaw to fan and critic alike.

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