Kirby's Adventure
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • NES
  • Developer:
    • HAL
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 03/23/1993
    • US 05/01/1993
    • UK 12/01/1993
Score: 90%

This review was published on 06/15/2013.

Kirby's Adventure is a 2-D, side-scrolling platform game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1993. The first game Kirby debuted in was Kirby's Dream Land for the Game Boy handheld. Kirby's Adventure is the second game in the Kirby series, and it's also the first time Kirby ever got a home console release. It's kind of weird that Nintendo decided to do that, especially considering how late into the NES' lifespan this game came out. By 1993, most gamers had already moved onto 16-bit consoles like the SNES. Why Nintendo would release such a major game on the NES at this point is beyond me. Maybe they were looking out for the last few stragglers that still only had an NES at home. In any case, Kirby's Adventure is actually one of the best NES games ever released. It hardly even looks like an NES game, with amazing graphics that almost look like stuff to come out of a 16-bit system. The high challenge level typically prevalent in the NES' library is also absent here, as Kirby's Adventure is just as easy as any other Kirby game. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because Kirby's Adventure is fun. Most people probably missed on the opportunity to play this one, thanks to the SNES, but it's one of the best NES games and one of the good Kirby games.

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In the land of Dream Land, all of the denizens get their dreams from a place called the Fountain of Dreams. One day, Kirby notices something is amiss when he wakes up from a short nap with no dreams in sight, so he decides to head on over to the Fountain of Dreams to see what's up. There he finds the antagonist of the Kirby series, King Dedede, stealing the Star Rod. This starry rod is the source of power to the Fountain of Dreams, so that kind of explains everything. King Dedede breaks the rod into seven pieces and gives six of them to his henchman in various parts of the land. The last piece he keeps himself, high atop his castle in the mountainous region of his domain. What a jerk. The people of Dream Land won't be able to have dreams without the Star Rod, and that's no good. It's now up to Kirby to travel to these faraway lands and recover the Star Rod's broken fragments.It's interesting to note that this game marks the first appearance of Meta Knight, a morally ambiguous knight who is sometimes on Kirby's side, and sometimes not. He makes many appearances throughout the rest of the series. As simplistic as the story sounds, there's a pretty good plot twist that happens at the end of the game. Other than that, though, it's about the same as the story in any other platform game.

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Kirby is the star of the show in this adventure, so you'll be controlling him and only him for the entire game. For those not in the know, he's a lovably pink puffball with an insatiable appetite. This was actually the first time people got to see a pink Kirby, because the monochrome Game Boy didn't allow for him to show his true colors. Kirby can inhale his enemies into his mouth, and then either spit them back out at other foes or swallow them. In other words, he can suck or blow. Kirby can also fly by inhaling a bunch of air and becoming a sort of balloon. There's no limit to his flight, so you can pretty much fly over everything. The level design is adjusted accordingly to retain some semblance of balance, although the Kirby games aren't known for their balanced difficulty. A neat detail about Kirby's flight ability is that he exhales a small puff of air whenever you deactivate his flight, and this puff of air can actually damage enemies. On top of sucking enemies and blowing air on them, Kirby can use a sliding kick similar to the slide in Mega Man. This kick is another cool way to harm enemies, even if it isn't particularly useful. The one thing Kirby can't do to hurt enemies is jump on them. This is no Mario game. However, Kirby can actually defeat some weak enemies if he falls on top of them. It's a strange mechanic, because jumping on enemies harms Kirby, but falling on them doesn't. Lastly, Kirby can run if you quickly double tap the directional pad in a given direction. I personally find this annoying, because it can be hard to activate it, but it does have the benefit of freeing up the limited buttons available on the NES controller. There is a lot of depth to Kirby's innate abilities in Kirby's Adventure.

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This is the first game in which Kirby gains the ability to gain abilities. Kirby is famous for being able to copy the abilities of his enemies, resulting in a large myriad of special moves. You can easily play the game only using Kirby's innate abilities of sucking and blowing stuff, but where's the fun in that? It's a lot more fun to steal abilities from enemies and use them as your own. In order for Kirby to actually gain an enemy's ability, he has to inhale them first. At that point, he can either blow the enemy out as a projectile, or swallow it. Swallowing special enemies will give Kirby special abilities. For example, a fire breathing enemy will allow Kirby to breathe fire, a prickly foe grants Kirby the ability to become a spiky ball, and a knight gives Kirby a sword. There are many, many more powers, all with totally different functions and effects. This right here is the main appeal of the entire Kirby series. Each level in the game is filled to the brim with enemies that you can copy, and you see different kinds of baddies as you progress through the game. It's always really exciting when you see a new enemy for the first time, because it means you can try out a new power for the first time. Almost all of Kirby's powers are useful, but some are more useful for certain situations, like the sword is one of the few powers Kirby can use underwater, whereas anything fire related cannot be used inside bodies of water. Some powers can even grant access to secret areas, such as the hammer. Kirby can use the mallet to bash special pegs that open up secret passages to extra lives and stuff. The only downside is that Kirby loses whatever power he has whenever he gets hit, requiring you to chase after a star if you want to get it back. It's really annoying having to chase that star around, especially since it breaks easily. Once a star holding a power breaks, it's gone for good. That is, until you find another enemy with the same power. Also, if you don't like the power you currently have, you can voluntarily give it up by pressing the select button. The fun never ends when it comes to the powers of Kirby's Adventure.

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There are a total of seven worlds in this game, each comprised of an assortment of levels and a boss at the end. The worlds are set up as small hub areas with doors that lead into the individual levels. As you complete levels, new doors will become available that contain new levels to complete. I have to say, I really like this structure. It's a lot more interesting than the straight up level-to-level progression of the previous game. The major benefit to this structure is that you can revisit any level at any time. Is that convenient or what? In addition to merely opening up new levels, you can sometimes find secret switches inside a level that will unlock a secret door in these maps. The secret doors tend to contain rooms with free abilities for Kirby, in case there's a particular ability you want and you don't feel like hunting it down. You need to find all these switches if you intend on getting 100%, though they're by no means necessary to beat the game. It's just an optional thing to do if you like to do optional things. Unlike the first Kirby game, Kirby's Adventure has a save feature, allowing you to continue from the last level you left off at. That's the convenience of technology at work. Kirby's Adventure has a really good thing going with the structure of its worlds. It's a minor detail, but a good one nonetheless.

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Bosses are back and they're ready for battle. Generally, the way boss fights work in the Kirby series is that they'll throw projectiles at you, and Kirby can inhale these projectiles to spit them back at the boss for major damage. As a result of this, bosses are basically waiting games where you wait for them to give you ammunition for their own demise. In a lot of ways, this is kind of lame. This time, however, Kirby has a new trick up his sleeve: the copy abilities he absorbs from fallen foes! If you're equipped with a power capable of damaging a given boss, then you no longer have to play the waiting game in this Kirby game. The hard point is managing to keep your power for the entire fight. At that point, it really comes down to learning the attack patterns, dodging attacks, and striking at opportune times. It's pretty standard fare, really. Unfortunately, losing your power in most boss battle will render you defenseless, as there's usually no way to get a new power during a boss fight. There are some exceptions, of course. A few bosses will be nice enough to spit out enemies at you that can be swallowed for a power or two, allowing you to get back in the game. Many of the bosses return from the previous game, but there are quite a few new ones. There are also mini-bosses that randomly pop up at various points in a stage. These bosses can be trounced easily, but what's notable about them is that Kirby can actually eat them up. Doing so will grant Kirby access to unique powers he might not be able to get anywhere else, although this isn't always the case. As such, fighting mini-bosses is very rewarding. Bosses in Kirby's Adventure are gnarly.

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Mini-games of various types can be found in the game's hub areas. The primary reason to play these mini-games is to earn extra lives. You don't really need extra lives in a game as easy as Kirby, but they're up for grabs in case you want them. Some of the mini-games are actually kind of fun, so I sometimes find myself playing them for the entertainment value alone. Your mileage may vary. The first mini-game is a pretty standard Kirby themed crane game challenge. It works just like any crane game would. The next bonus game is a little strange; bombs and eggs will be thrown at you, and it's your job to avoid the bombs and eat the eggs. This one can be a bit frantic. The last one is a spaghetti Western quick draw bonus game, in which you need to wait for the right time to draw your weapon. You see this particular mini-game in some of the future games in the Kirby series. Out of all these mini-games, the crane game is probably the best one. It's the easiest one to win and also happens to be fun. If mini-games aren't your thing, though, then rest assured that you can skip all of them. Having them around does add fun play value to Kirby's rambunctious adventure, though.

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Kirby's Adventure is easily one of the best NES games of all time, yet not too many people acknowledge how good it is. The game didn't get the recognition it truly deserved until its remake on the Game Boy Advance, "Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land." Even then, a lot of people weren't aware that the GBA game was a remake of an old NES title. Perhaps the reason why Kirby's Adventure doesn't get more praise is that most people missed out on it, given that it was released so late into the NES' lifespan. Whatever the case, Kirby's Adventure is one awesome game. It's got fantastic music, amazing graphics, wonderful environments, cool bosses, and is just fun to play. The incredibly low challenge level and cutesy visuals might scare off some people, but none of that is detrimental to the game. It's not quite the best Kirby game in the series, but it's one of the best. I would say that's pretty good, since the Kirby series is pretty good.

Word Count: 2,139

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