Kirby's Dream Land 2
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy
  • Developer:
    • HAL
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 03/21/1995
    • US 05/01/1995
    • UK 07/31/1995
Score: 85%

This review was published on 06/17/2013.

Kirby's Dream Land 2 is a 2-D, side-scrolling platform game released for the portable Game Boy in 1995. Despite the "2" in the title, this is actually the third game in the Kirby series. The Kirby series started on the Game Boy with the first Kirby's Dream Land, but then it moved onto the Nintendo Entertainment System with Kirby's Adventure, and then it went back to the Game Boy for Kirby's Dream Land 2. That's a little confusing and also a bit strange, but it wasn't entirely out of the ordinary. Kirby's Dream Land 2 takes most of the improvements and innovations made in Kirby's Adventure and brings it back to the tiny, monochromatic screen of the Game Boy. Because this is one of the later Game Boy releases, it has special support for the Super Game Boy. The Super Game Boy, for those who don't know, is an adapter for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that allows you to play Game Boy games on your television screen. Kirby's Dream Land 2 has special features when paired with a Super Game Boy, such as some added color, a custom border around the screen, and a few enhanced sound effects. If you want the ideal experience, then you should play this thing on the Super Game Boy. What about the game itself, you ask? Well, Kirby's Dream Land 2 is pretty awesome. It further improves on the new mechanic introduced in Kirby's Adventure and adds lots of new features.

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Kirby, the jolly pink puffball that we all know and love, is a resident of the dreamy land known as Dream Land. In this dreamy land of dreams, there are seven islands connected by seven bridges made out of solid rainbows. An evil, alien entity known only as "Dark Matter" decides to cause some trouble in Dream Land by stealing all of these bridges, making passage between the islands difficult. The Dark Matter has dark powers that matter, because it possesses King Dedede and uses the king's body to do its bidding. This nefarious entity wishes to completely conquer the land of Dream Land. I'm not sure how it intends to do that by stealing bridges, but whatever. The point is that Dream Land is in peril. Just like usual, it's up to Kirby to stop this unholy force by running and jumping through seven themed worlds. How does Kirby do that if the bridges are out, you ask? Well, he rides atop a flying star, referred to as a Warp Star. It's called a Warp Star because it warps you places. Nothing can stand in the way of Kirby's heroic appetite, thanks to his starry ride. Kirby's Dream Land 2 has the ho-hum story you'd expect out of a platform game, but it does shake things up a bit by introducing a new villain to the series.

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It shouldn't come as a surprise that you'll be controlling Kirby in Kirby's Dream Land 2. The lovable puffball can suck enemies into his mouth and either spit them out as harmful projectiles or swallow them whole. He also retains his ability to inhale a bunch of air and fly around like a hot air balloon, except he's full of cold air. Kirby releases the puff of air from his mouth whenever he deflates to land back onto the ground, and this puff of air can actually harm certain enemies. It's a handy projectile attack for when you need a handy projectile attack. Oddly enough, however, his ability to do a slide kick has been removed, and so has his ability to run. These two abilities were added in Kirby's Adventure, so it's weird to see them taken away in this installment. I can't tell you the reasoning behind why this was done. The slide kick ability was never that useful, so it's not a big deal that they removed that one, but not being able to run is kind of a bummer. Perhaps the smaller screen prompted them to get rid of running, because there's not enough room. To offset the lack of a running ability, Kirby walks at a decently fast pace. Not too fast, but not too slow. I honestly don't mind it. Kirby's Dream Land 2 simplifies Kirby's innate repertoire a bit, but is no worse for it.

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Copy abilities are back and they're still as fun as ever. As you probably already know, Kirby can copy the powers of his enemies by eating them. This doesn't work for all enemies, but it does work for most of them. While Kirby's innate abilities can take him through the whole game, they're a little on the boring side. That's where copy abilities, what the Kirby series is famous for, come in. Each enemy type has a unique, delectable power for Kirby to steal, and there are a ton of them in the game. Most of the powers make a return from Kirby's Adventure, although a lot of them didn't make the cut. As unfortunate as that is, there are still a fair amount of copy abilities in this game, so it's not a huge detriment. It still is a bit of a detriment, though. There is something in the game that remedies this problem, but more on that later. As always, there exists a huge variety in the powers Kirby can get. The spark lets Kirby shock foes with his electrified body, spike has him transforming into a ball of spikes, fire lets him transform into a literal fireball, ice lets him freeze foes and use their frozen carcasses as projectiles, parasol lets him use an umbrella as a weapon, etc. Like in Kirby's Adventure, getting hit will have Kirby's power fly out of him in the form of a star. If you can eat this star before it disappears, then you'll regain the power. If not, then tough luck. You can still get rid of a power by pressing select, in case you end up with something you don't like. Kirby's Dream Land 2 strips out a lot of the copy abilities from Kirby's Adventure, but still has enough to keep things interesting.

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New to Kirby's Dream Land 2 are three friendly animal friends. Kirby doesn't have a whole lot of friends in this world, so he resorts to making friends with animals. Friends of Kirby don't get treated too well, because he rides on them, and sometimes, in them. The idea is similar to Yoshi from Super Mario World, only there is way more depth to it than that. Throughout the the game, Kirby can find animal friends being held captive inside of bags and usually being guarded by a mini-boss. Upon freeing them, he can then enslave them for eternal servitude. That means you can keep an animal friend for as long as you want, provided you don't let them die or abandon them. The three animal friends are Rick the Hamster, Coo the Owl, and Kine the Ocean Sunfish. As you can see, the three animal friends cover land, sea, and air. Each animal friend has certain advantages and disadvantages; Rick runs faster on land and has good traction on ice, Coo carries Kirby around for more sophisticated flight abilities that let him fly against strong wind, and Kine enhances Kirby's performance underwater so he can swim past tough currents. That's not all, though. On top of their innate abilities, each animal friend will modify whatever copy ability Kirby currently has equipped. For instance, Kirby normally turns into a fireball with the fire ability, but that changes into a long ranged, fire breathing ability when he's riding atop Rick. There are many more examples, like the spark ability lets Kirby shoot down a deadly bolt of lightning from above while he is being carried by Coo, and the same spark ability gives Kine a light bulb that lights up dark areas. This effectively triples the amount of copy abilities that are in the game. Also, it's a nice touch how the music changes whenever you ride a given animal friend. The animal friends are a solid addition to the series and the best feature of Kirby's Dream Land 2.

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As you might have gleaned from the beginning of this review, there are a total of seven worlds in Kirby's Dream Land 2. You know, because of the seven islands and stuff. They're laid out much in the same way as in Kirby's Adventure; each world has a small hub area with a number of doors that you enter to access the individual levels. You still have to enter the doors in the specified order, but it's nice that you can revisit any level at any time. It's even possible to exit a level at any time by accessing the pause menu and selecting the option to do so. One nice thing they added this time around is a small, funny cutscene that plays whenever entering a given world. These short scenes add a bit of personality to the game, and they can be skipped if you don't particularly care for them. The first few worlds of the game have 3 short levels each, but worlds later in the game can have around 6 or 7 levels. Each world has its own distinctive theme, like the grass world, the forest world, the water world, and so on. At the end of each world is a boss, just like you'd expect. A lot of the levels in the game are designed to take advantage of the abilities of Kirby's animal friends, though they are never required to beat any of the levels. Kirby's Dream Land 2 is a lot longer than the first Kirby's Dream Land, so don't fret if that game's insanely short length left a bad taste in your mouth. The world of Kirby's Dream Land 2 won't leave a bad taste in your mouth.

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Hidden in each world are secret items known as Rainbow Drops. Collecting all of them will unlock the game's true final boss, so it behooves you to keep a look out for them. You can still beat the game without collecting these optional collectibles, but then you won't get to face the real final boss, and we wouldn't want that. The true final fight is quite challenging, too, so I think it's worth it. Plus, collecting these things adds replay value to the game. Obtaining the Rainbow Drops isn't solely about scavenging levels looking for secrets. Most of the time, actually getting the Rainbow Drop involves a little bit of puzzle solving, like Kirby might need a particular copy ability to break down a special barrier. It comes down to having the right copy ability for the right situation, and the solution isn't always obvious. Getting all Rainbow Drops in the game is quite tough if you aren't using an outside guide of some sort. Doing so is really fun if you're the type of person who loves finding secrets. If you hate secrets, though, then you may want to forget about it. The Rainbow Drops in Kirby's Dream Land 2 add a nice amount of replay value for an already lengthy game.

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Kirby's Dream Land 2 is one of the best games on the Game Boy with ease. It's also one of the best games in the Kirby series with ease. The addition of the animal friends really helps stand this Kirby game out from the rest. The only issues with Kirby's Dream Land 2 is that it has a lot fewer copy abilities when compared to other Kirby games, and it's on the Game Boy. This game is good enough to be released on a console, so it's a shame it was limited to a Game Boy release. You can pretend it's a console game by using the Super Game Boy, I suppose. It's got great music, decent graphics, neat level design, fun game play, a little replay value, and is quite long for a Game Boy game. Kirby's Dream Land 2 is a dream come true.

Word Count: 1,999

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