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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What's The Best Kirby Game? (Part 1)

Kirby
Kirby sucks.
Years ago, I put together a ranking of all the Kirby games. Being that this is the little pink bulimic’s 20th anniversary, I think it’s appropriate to revisit him and re-rank his games while adding in his most recent releases. As before, we’ll be leaving out side releases like Kirby’s Air Ride and Kirby’s Block Ball and focusing instead on the main entries, ranging from the Game Boy on through to the Wii.

Let’s get to it!
12. Kirby’s Dream Land (Game Boy, 1992)

The first, and still the worst. Kirby’s Dream Land was short, clocking in at only an hour long even on your first playthrough. I’m not even exaggerating: There are literally only five levels in the entire game. I paid $30 for this game back in the 90’s and I’m pretty sure I only lost one life on my very first playthrough. On top of that, you can’t even steal your enemies’ powers. All you can do is inhale your enemies and spit them out. That’s it.

Kirby’s Dream Land looks great for a Game Boy game, the music is catchy and it’s fun to play for the hour that it lasts. Beating it opens up a much harder mode, but beating the hard mode only unlocks a sound test. Don’t get me wrong, Kirby’s Dream Land plays very well, and it’s easy to see why Nintendo thought Kirby would be a good character after playing this game, but Kirby’s Dream Land is not a great game by any means. In retrospect, it feels more like a warmed-over tech demo than a full game.

11. Kirby’s Dream Land 3 (SNES, 1997)

Kirby’s Dream Land 3 had potential. It used a graphical style that looked like the entire game was drawn by crayons, which could be uniquely suited to Kirby games. It had some really neat ideas in it, but it was hampered by two things.

One, there weren’t enough special powers. There comes a point in every Kirby game where you get to a later level and find a new special power that you’d never seen before. It’s something that keeps you interested until the end, because you never know what you’ll find. That didn’t happen in Kirby’s Dream Land 3. By the time you’ve been to the second world, you’ve seen every special power already. There’s not much else to see.

There’s another problem: Kirby games live and die on punchy, straightforward levels that come in, surprise you, and move on. Well, Kirby’s Dream Land 3’s levels are all dreadfully long. You spend a long time moving from left-to-right or right-to-left killing the same few enemies and using the same few powers while pastoral, boring music plays in the background. It’s horrid.

10. Kirby's Return To Dream Land (Wii, 2011)

I’m starting to detect a pattern: The games with “Dream Land” in the title are bad. Or are they? There’s one exception to this rule, but we’ll get to that later.

Anyway, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land made the same mistakes as Kirby’s Dream Land 3. It looked fantastic, but it was too long, the levels were boring, and you’ve seen every power by the midpoint of the game. This is a game that managed to take giant, screen-filling special powers and make them dull.

It’s weird, because it’s like the designers of Return had no new ideas whatsoever. It’s a really run-of-the-mill Kirby game. The music is uninspired, and for a game that’s supposed to be a great big homecoming for Kirby, there are no nods to Kirby’s past at all. It just repeats the same few ideas over and over again and hopes that you won’t notice.

I have to move on. I’m getting depressed.

Read part 2 here.