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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

It’s funny what going back to the beginning of a series can do for you. In some cases, it’s a reminder of the purity of older games, before endless sequels diluted the formula. But for other games, it can show just how far the series has come since humble beginnings. In Kirby’s case, it’s a bit of both.

Kirby’s Dream Land is a very nice platformer, with varied stages and a well-judged difficulty level for its audience. The visuals are particularly attractive too, thanks in no small part to the relatively lavish 256KB cartridge size. Kirby handles well, floating about the place and inhaling enemies with great gusto as always, and iconic enemies like Waddle Dee, Whispy Woods and King Dedede are already in.

However, long-term Kirby fans who missed this first game might be surprised to learn that something is missing – specifically, Kirby’s copy ability. This originated in the NES game Kirby’s Adventure, and playing without the iconic ability is an odd experience for the hardened Kirby veteran. However, this does allow the player to concentrate on Kirby’s basic handling and deal with the relatively high number of enemies on screen.

Don’t let the lack of that unique selling point put you off Kirby’s Dream Land, though. While it’s not the same experience as later Kirby platformers, it’s a lovely Game Boy platformer that shows off the machine well. It’s also a little tougher than later entries in the series, especially if you play on Extra Mode, so it’s good for experienced gamers too.