Format reviewed: NES/Famicom
Publisher: HAL Laboratory
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Submitted by: Phill Burton
If you’ve not played Kirby’s Adventure on the NES then you’ve missed out on one of the best games in the entire NES library. It’s probably the pinnacle of what the system can achieve and is my favourite NES title by far. Aside from featuring the amazingly iconic Nintendo namesake, there are countless other reasons why Kirby’s Adventure should take pride of place on your games shelf.
The plot is a classic quest centred around a hero in search of the scattered pieces of an important magical item in order to reforge it and thwart a villain’s evil plan to take over the land. Although it’s neither new or imaginative, the game’s storyline does have one refreshing plot twist that came as a somewhat unexpected surprise near the end – if you don’t want to read this spoiler then please skip to the next paragraph now! Just when everything seems to have come to its natural conclusion, our hero Kirby has saved the day by vanquishing the evil King Dedede, it appears that not everything is as it first seemed. Instead of rescuing the land by uniting the Star Rod, Kirby has foolishly brought it together allowing the malevolent wizard Nightmare to steal it and thus take control of all the dreams in Dreamland! All this time King Dedede was actually an antihero trying to protect the Fountain of Dreams and Kirby was undoing all his efforts. In real-terms this twist plays out as a satisfying reward in the shape of two more reasonably difficult boss battles to defeat the real final boss – a great ending to a great game.
If you forget the storyline and focus entirely on the gameplay then Kirby’s Adventure is a classic platformer full of great humour, numerous interesting and quirky game mechanics, and some pretty good chip tunes to whistle your way through. It’s easy to forget that this game was the first outing where some of these now standard features debuted (especially when it seems to have gotten it so right). Kirby’s copy abilities are a great example of the imaginative and copious detail put into the game. Not only can Kirby fly, jump, dash, slide, dive, fire air pellets, inhale enemies, swallow enemies, and shoot them across the screen as standard (in your face plumbers) but he can also attain the ability to wield swords and hammers, breath fire, drop like a stone, shoot lasers, wheel across the screen at a hedgehog’s pace, and even perform some interesting yet questionable wrestling moves (to name but a few)! I haven’t got the complete list but it’s fairly impressive for what you’d expect to see on an 8-bit console. As well as the eclectic rainbow coloured levels made accessible via the novel lobby level, there are a number of captivating mini games that have gone on to become the staple of the Kirby series that we know and love today. These mini games include picking up stuffed Kirby plushies using a crane claw, catching eggs thrown into Kirby’s mouth by King Dedede whilst avoiding bombs, an interesting quick draw game that’s very similar to the NES’s own Wild Gunman (although sadly without use of the Zapper), an arena where various mini-bosses can be taken on in exchange for prizes, and finally a hidden game after completing the main game where Kirby squares up against each level boss in order and attempts to defeat them all in series without any power ups or life replenishment.
Kirby’s Adventure is a highly rewarding game that’s easy to pickup and has great replay value due to its rich depth. It would greatly appeal to the casual gamer, so if you’re looking for a gateway game to introduce friends to the NES then I recommend you lend them this alongside the copy of SMB3 that you always reach for! Also, for those of us who like to use emulator save states, you’ll be glad to hear that the physical cart is one of the few that include a battery in order to save your progress – hats off to the developers!
So what are you waiting for?! Give your copy of Kirby a good dusting off, blow into its slot once more and fire up your NES for a little bit of fun overcoming such terrors as Meta-Knight and Whispy (the tree from the Whispy Woods) – you know you want to!