Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kirby's Adventure ~Dream 2~ Setting, Story, and The Game Structure

Hey! Heads up...this will be a short one. I'd love to write more, but I haven't been feeling well recently and the allergy season is getting to me. I'd wait, but I don't want Epic Yarn to shove this to the side. I'll have a longer one up in a few days...complete with many screenshots!


This game has me on a budding nostalgia binge.

At the very least, on a Kirby scale. All of a sudden I'm incredibly giddy over the upcoming Kirby's Epic Yarn (of which impressions and a review will follow) and I'm always in the mood to plop down and just play this. I can't wait to revisit the other titles in the series.

It's funny how the passing of time affects everything. When I was ten, playing through the game was a challenge that took me weeks, possibly even months. Now? I could probably beat it in an afternoon. I really was worried I had outgrown the game when I was taking my time doing a normal playthrough. I mean, one could say the same thing about Mario games, but unlike Adventure, most of the old ones don't save your progress. They're about perfecting your platforming skills and constant replay value. Kirby games don't really fit that category.

It was then I blessed my lord that this game had the feature to go back to any level you want at any time. At my age, playing through the levels at a random order is a much more satisfying experience. I guess a part of me still wishes I could leisurely go with the flow of it, but hey, I can't pretend. That's life.

So, what exactly is this game about?


We know that Mario games take place in the rather whimsical wonderland of the Mushroom Kingdom. Kirby games, however, are not so nearly as inspired and tend to be more...dreamy. Kirby's homeland resides in Dream Land, a tranquil fantasy nation that resides on the distant planet Pop Star (get it?). Many Dream Landers partake in the simple pleasures of life, whether it be afternoon naps, bouts of eating, or strolls down the road. One time, however, that was shattered.

Pop Star, as seen in Kirby Super Star.

One day, the citizens of Dream Land realized they could no longer dream. A long-favorite custom, of telling each others' hopes and wishes expressed in dreams, had suddenly ceased to exist. Upon witnessing the disheartening effect this has on everyone around him, Kirby, the hero of the country after the events of Kirby's Dream Land, set out to investigate.

The Fountain of Dreams, as seen in Nightmare in Dreamland. The spring is the holy symbol of Dream Land and the source of all the dreams in the world, thanks to the magical artifact known as the Star Rod. Rumored to be a fragment of an actual star, the wand powers the fountain and its influence seeps into the water, which flows all over the land and gives its citizens a good night's rest.

Upon arriving at the well, Kirby finds none other then King Dedede, a penguin who is the "self-proclaimed king" swimming in its waters. Dedede, who had previously stolen all of Dream Land's food because he is a jerk, had broken the Star Rod into seven pieces and handed each of them to his acquaintances. Horrified at what happened, Kirby ignores the rest of Dedede's explanation and heads off on his second quest. His goal: To restore the Star Rod and restore dreams to his friends.

Meanwhile, Anthony Pelone was having a dream that Ash Ketchum from Pokemon came to his cousin's house and they chilled out together. He woke up and was horribly disappointed. Nine years later, he had a dream that Nintendo was finally releasing Mother 3 in the States and Pixar was developing a film adaption of Pikmin. He woke up and was horribly disappointed. After these traumatic events, he met up with Kirby and expressed his fervent hope that the events manifested in those misleading dreams would come true.

It still hasn't happened.


The structure of Kirby games are vastly different from those of Mario's. The plumber is about performing impossible jumps and overcoming/witnessing the unexpected. The puffball is about reinforcing the basics and oodles of fun. Mario has can jump, Kirby can float. Mario doesn't have a life bar, but Kirby does.

Masahiro Sakurai has stated that he introduced the idea of Kirby's Copy Ability as to appeal to those with a higher skill level, and I think he succeeded. While Dream Land was entertaining, I doubt that its gameplay of simply swallowing things could have transformed it into a series. The dynamic of stealing enemies' powers is so versatile and creative, and is no doubt the secret to Kirby's success. Nearly every ability featured here has undergone an evolution, whether they have grown more complex in their movesets or being fused with other powers. And they are just so satisfying, particularly when you acquire a rare ability.

Kirby's Adventure shares many aspects with Dream Land, but its where the series truly begins to find its voice. The level designs are not nearly as intricate, but rather geared so that anyone can clear the level. Several of them are actually designed for a chosen few of Kirby's powers, the most notable being the wavin' ramps for the Wheel ability. What the levels lack in complexity they make up for in providing secrets or random easter eggs (in other words, usually some sort of in-jokes found in games).

Perhaps most interesting is Kirby's ability to fly. By puffing himself up, he can cruise just about anywhere. It's a very interesting contrast compared to Mario's super jumps, which have to be timed and used carefully. Here? It's more at your leisure. I suspect that this was implemented so players wouldn't have to memorize when or where to jump ahead. For the most part, it's completely optional, but nonetheless a fun way to get around the level.

And as for Kirby's life bar? Well, I'd like to think that a portion of Sakurai's philosophy while designing Dream Land carried on over here. Observe the following quote from a recent interview:

"Kirby's Dream Land was the first game I ever made, but I had no intention of making it a mainstream game. I really narrowed down the audience to beginners only. That's because, at the time, no matter how much fun the Super Mario Bros. games were, they were still too tough for normal people and kids. I could feel people drifting away from games, and it bothered me. In the midst of making Kirby, a lot of the team started wondering if we were maybe making it too simple. But I think it was necessary for us to consider people who hadn't played a game before, and I think doing that earned us fans that wouldn't have been around otherwise. That's the same creative approach I take with Smash Bros. It hasn't changed at all today."

He does have a point. We've already established that the Super Mario games are some of the best platforming games in the business, but that doesn't change the fact that most of them are quite punishing. Mario can die without warning, and you can't afford to make any mistakes. Many games from that era are, actually. Donkey Kong Country can be difficult. Sonic can be difficult. And let's not get into the horror stories involving Ninja Gaiden. Many gamers would say that the games of today pale in comparison in terms of difficulty.

But since Kirby has a life bar, kids can take the pressure off and can come out unscathed if they learn to navigate carefully. It's not exactly a cakewalk, though. Kirby's Adventure is ripe with dangers, whether it be a platoon of spikes or the swarm of enemies. I've conquered most of these, but the mini-bosses and bosses were probably the toughest for me, including the likes of Bonkers, Mr.Shine and Mr.Bright, Kracko, Fire Lion and King Dedede himself. Even with the assistance of abilities, somehow these goons gave me a hard time. Now? I'd suppose only Bugzzy and Meta Knight keep me on my toes.

But if the game is too easy, what then? The game has an unlockable extra mode, perfect for those who feel that the normal adventure might be too easy. Instead of six bars, Kirby only has three, so you'll have to tread even more carefully and not make any wasted movements. Is it harder then a Mario game? Not really. But I'd say Sakurai made more of an effort to reach out to both kinds of gamers with this title then in Dream Land.

And that's about it. Man, do I love this game.


Not sure what to write next...thinking of writing about the first two worlds (Vegetable Valley and Ice Cream Island) and going into more of the gameplay, but we'll see. Hopefully my cold will go away by then. See you then.

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