Kirby's Dream Land 3
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • SNES
  • Developer:
    • HAL
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • US 11/27/1997
    • JP 03/27/1998
Score: 75%

This review was published on 06/19/2013.

Kirby's Dream Land 3 is a 2-D, side-scrolling platform game released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. This was the last first party game to be released for the SNES in North America, and one of the last games to be released for the SNES in this territory. Kirby's Dream Land 3 is the third game in the Dream Land series, but by no means the third game in the Kirby series. The first two Dream Land games were on the Game Boy portable, so this is the first Kirby game bearing the Dream Land name on a home console, though it's definitely not the first Kirby game released on a home console. That honor is given to Kirby's Adventure, which was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in between Dream Land and Dream Land 2. The last traditional Kirby game before Dream Land 3 was Kirby Super Star, and that one came out about a year before this one on the SNES. There were also a couple of spinoff games released on the Game Boy and SNES. It's all a little confusing, as if Nintendo couldn't decide what to do with Kirby. For whatever reason, Kirby's Dream Land 3 is a large departure from the style seen in the fan favorite Kirby Super Star. It's still the same type of Kirby game, but it has a much slower pace with a vastly different visual and audio style. Kirby's Dream Land 3 takes Kirby into a new direction, a direction many fans of Kirby Super Star weren't pleased with.

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Kirby meets a fellow named Gooey, a literal pile of goo with a long, slithering tongue. The two love to eat and become best friends solely based on this fact. Food brings people together, I suppose. One day, during a fishing trip, Kirby and Gooey witness a nefarious entity do nefarious things. The entity is known simply as Dark Matter, and it is involved in dark matters. Dark Matter made its first appearance in Kirby's Dream Land 2, and it returns to cause trouble for a second time. Jeez, don't they ever learn? Much like the first time, Dark Matter uses its dark powers to possess the most powerful denizens of Dream Land, such as the mighty King Dedede. It is up to Kirby and his gooey friend to put a stop to these matters of darkness. At this point, it starts becoming evident that Dark Matter is supposed to be the new antagonist of the Kirby series, kicking aside King Dedede. You still manage to fight King Dedede for one reason or another, but he is rarely the big cheese anymore. I never really dug Dark Matter as a mainstay villain, but he is admittedly very menacing. The way he possesses friendly folk to become bad folk is quite creepy. Kirby's Dream Land 3 doesn't do anything out of the ordinary in its story.

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Our heroically pink puffball, Kirby, is back and ready for some fun. He controls much like he does in any of the other games, with his basic abilities of being able to inhale enemies, spit them out at other enemies, and swallow them. Kirby is versatile enough to fly around whenever he pleases, making bottomless pits not very threatening. Of course, the main draw to Kirby is his capability to steal the powers of his adversaries, much like Mega Man, except Kirby can do it to regular enemies. Kirby can steal the abilities of certain enemies by eating them, provided the enemy has an ability to steal. Eating an electrical enemy allows Kirby to shock his foes, swallowing a spiky thing enables him to become spiky, and ingesting a fiery foe lets Kirby become a fireball. There are many more abilities beyond that, and it's always fun to see what new power awaits you. Speaking of new powers, Kirby's Dream Land 3 introduces exactly one. Most of the copy abilities are from previous games, but there is a new one called "broom." This one lets Kirby... sweep the ground with a broom. Yeah, some of the new copy abilities aren't very good. What really sucks about the copy abilities in Dream Land 3 is that they no longer have entire move sets like they did in Kirby Super Star. All the copy abilities regressed back to being single-button attacks, and that's just not as exciting as having access to large, complex move sets. I don't get why the designers decided to make such a significant regression. It simplifies things, sure, but at a considerable cost. Kirby's Dream Land 3 loses a lot of points for this one.

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This game has a really interesting art style when compared to the rest of the series. It has kind of that crayon or color pencil look from Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, only it isn't quite as good. The game looks well and good for the most part, but there is a distinct lack of detail in the backgrounds and foregrounds. I have mixed feelings about this art style, because while I do like it, I honestly prefer the look to Kirby Super Star a lot better. Kirby Super Star had bigger sprites, more detailed backgrounds, and a brighter color palette. The colors in Dream Land 3 come off as a bit washed out. There's like this cloudy look to everything. Technologically speaking, these visuals are impressive for the SNES, but they aren't necessarily impressive from casual observation. The game cartridge has a special chip in it, designated as SA-1, to assist the SNES with additional processing power. That's part of what makes these advanced visual effects possible. Super Mario RPG: The Legend of the Seven Stars also utilized this chip. Kirby's Dream Land 3 by no means has bad graphics, but Kirby Super Star did a much better job in the visual department.

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The best thing about Kirby's Dream Land 3 is the return of Kirby's animal friends. Kirby will find his animal friends scattered throughout the game, and he can ride them to take advantage of their unique abilities. The animal friends first showed up in Kirby's Dream Land 2, but were absent from most of the other Kirby games until Dream Land 3 brought them back. There are a few additions, too. Rick the Hamster, Coo the Owl, and Kine the Ocean Sunfish all make their return from Dream Land 2. Rick can jump off walls, Coo can fly against strong gusts of wind, and Kine can swim through rough underwater currents. Dream Land 2 introduces exactly three new animal friends, and they are as follows: a pink gooey thing called ChuChu, a fat cat named Nago, and a tiny bird known as Pitch. ChuChu can stick to ceilings, Nago can perform an amazing triple jump, and Pitch just sucks. I like Pitch, he's cute, but I can't deny that he isn't very good. And as amazing as triple jumps and sticking on the ceiling are, neither one of these abilities are that useful, considering Kirby can fly on his own. The new animal friends are a little disappointing, to say the least. They're also a weird looking bunch. I don't think ChuChu is even an animal. She looks like the female version of Gooey. Kirby's Dream Land 3 did well in bringing back the lovable animal friends, but the new additions leave a lot to be desired.

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Much like in Kirby's Dream Land 2, animal friends will drastically alter whatever copy ability Kirby is equipped with. Because there are twice the friends in this game, that effectively sextuples the amount of copy abilities that are in the game. There are 8 abilities in total and 6 animal friends. If you do the math, that comes to 48 unique abilities. That's a lot of abilities. Many of them aren't very good, but there are a few that can be useful. Mix the stone ability with Rick and Kirby will be able to walk on a big boulder to flatten any enemies that are in his way, and Coo sends a bolt of lightning below him when Kirby has the spark ability. While animal friends like Pitch aren't very useful on their own, they can shine when paired with certain abilities. Combine Pitch with the spark ability and you'll get this neat ability where Kirby controls the small, electrified bird as if it was an RC plane. It seems like the whole purpose behind Pitch is that he's good when paired with abilities, but useless on his own. The same philosophy sort of goes for the unimpressive broom ability; it's actually quite useful when combined with certain animal friends. ChuChu will ride around on the broom like a witch, and foes will be damaged by the sparkly dust that falls from the broom's stalks. Experimenting with different combinations to find the most effective ones is a good way to have fun. This is one of the strengths of Kirby's Dream Land 3.

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Every level in the game has an optional objective you can choose to do if you so choose. Completing all of these objectives unlocks the true final boss and real ending, so it's worth doing if you care about that sort of thing. The optional objectives aren't clearly communicated to you via text. Instead, you have to figure out what to do by taking in environmental cues. In the first level, you'll see a bunch of flowers that you can step on. If you step on any of the flowers, then the large flower at the end of the level will be sad. Replay the same level without touching any flowers, and you'll earn a "Heart Star" from the big flower at the end, who is happy you didn't harm any of its brethren. The flower never actually tells you what you need to do, but you can figure that out by playing the level a few times. It's usually pretty obvious what you need to do in each level, though there are times when that isn't the case. When that happens, well, you're on your own. You'll probably need an outside guide to figure out what to do in some of the trickier ones. Occasionally, the optional objective will consist of optional mini-games. The mini-games are usually pretty simple, but some of the later ones are infuriatingly difficult. If you fail any of these mini-games, then you have to retry the whole level again. In fact, failing optional objectives of any sort always requires you to replay the whole level. That makes this whole thing really annoying. If you want to actually enjoy Kirby's Dream Land 3, then you should avoid doing this stuff.

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Kirby's Dream Land 3 decides to spit in the face of Kirby Super Star by going for a completely different feel. On the one hand, you have the return of the animal friends, which is a cool mechanic that was absent from Kirby Super Star, and it's nice of Dream Land 3 to bring it back. On the other hand, though, just about everything that made Kirby Super Star good is absent from this game. The graphics and music also lack the pizzazz from Kirby Super Star, even if they are technically impressive. Kirby's Dream Land 3 is a reasonably enjoyable game, but it's a huge step backwards from Kirby Super Star.

Word Count: 1,878

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