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Kirby’s Dream Land

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Released: 1992

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: Game Boy

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: HAL Laboratory

You don’t always get things exactly right on your first attempt, and neither do videogames developers – even the very best can miss out something that will come to define the series down the line. You couldn’t perform combos in the original Street Fighter, Sonic didn’t learn the spin dash until the sequel, and Kirby couldn’t copy any abilities until Kirby’s Adventure. That last point is a bit problematic, though.

I’ve always accepted Kirby’s constant inhalation of enemies as a means of drawing some form of sustenance – after all, something is clearly happening in there when Kirby copies abilities. But when this aspect of the character is removed, suddenly there’s no advantage in simply digesting enemies, and it’s better to spit them out. Are we to believe that none of the creatures in Dream Land actually have nutritional value? This seemingly happy platform game suddenly becomes a lot less jolly when you consider that Kirby’s clearly rampant hunger might never be adequately satisfied.

I appreciate that this might sound a little far-fetched, but just look at the game’s cover art – our hero is white as a sheet, a far cry from the vibrant pink hue that we’re used to. Clearly Kirby has got some health problems that need to be addressed. Seriously, knowing that your protagonist is barely keeping the Grim Reaper at bay is extremely disconcerting, and we’re surprised Nintendo would make a game this dark.

Then again, I could just be reading too much into some early instalment weirdness…