Friday, November 19, 2010

Kirby's Adventure ~Final Dream~ Growing Up and Nightmare in Dream Land

So, I've written over eight posts detailing my love for Kirby's Adventure. It sparked my love for the series,

But does it hold up well? Has the passage of time, in terms of both my age and time itself, treated it with care. Can I still enjoy it?

You're probably wondering why I'm bothering asking such as question thanks to how I was ravishing the game earlier, but there's another thing we gamers have to eventually face as we grow up: Taking off our nostalgia goggles.

In other words, growing up.

Perhaps we find that our love for Mario doesn't compare to what we had in our youths. Maybe those N64 classics don't wow us like they used to, and what was once dazzling, state-of-the-art graphics are now incredibly blocky models like one would find in an amateur Youtube video. The long, complicated storylines in RPGs might have impressed a budding teenager, but not someone in his adult years. Worst of all, we might just too old for games.

Did I have to go through the same thing?

I suppose the best way to answer this is to be honest: I hated being a (younger) teenager. I hated the pressure of middle/high school. I hated noticing things conveniently swept under the rug as a young child. I hated watching kids I grew up with turning into partying, opposite -gender obsessed, clique-based stereotypes.

And I hated growing up.

Trying to "grab" the magic I had felt with games I adored as a kid was possibly the most painful ordeal I had to go through. When you become a teen, everything changes. There are many traps one can fall into when he or she turns thirteen, and while we all fall into at least one, all too often 99% percent of us fall into too many of those pitfalls. Very few of us make it through with our childlike personalities intact, and most of those who don't take the loss for granted. Then you have people like me, those who don't care for the cliques in high school and long for the simple warmth we had all of those years back.

Now, I was smart when it came to the more dangerous traps I never wanted to try alcohol, I thought smoking looked stupid (not to mention being void of any positive benefits), and the thought of using drugs never crossed my mind. Unfortunately, I fell into nearly everything else. My entire period of being a young teenager was attempting reviving my life, all of which were ill-bred and pointless. I honestly believed that video games (okay, and maybe One Piece) were the only thing that mattered in my life and I had to get them back. Nothing else mattered. I was very much a pretentious idiot.

Needless to say, I fell behind in many aspects of my life, and I'm still reeling from the aftereffects of that. Maybe we'll discuss that another time.

This is what they call "learning the hard way," but at the very least I'm grateful that I've now learned a lesson from that mistake and can say it out loud: My games were with me all along. The only thing that changed was just growing up. Those nostalgic feelings they once evoked are still there, they're just diminished as an adult and forever remain a bountiful resource to a young child. But that doesn't matter. The games are still fun. Super Mario World is still fun. Pikmin is still fun. Star Fox 64 is still fun. Earthbound is still fun. There are certain exceptions (I always abandon the previous Smash Brothers when a new one comes out), but these games are still just as fun as they were in my youth. I've just grown up and gotten better at them. The magic is still there. The only thing stopping me from having fun with them was me, and for what reason? To relive some anomaly I had as a kid.

I just realized I had forgotten something often preached: Gameplay is the only real essential ingredient in a game. Without that, your game is a failure.

This is actually one of the reasons why I started this blog: To reconnect with the games I grew up with, or ones I missed out on. Either way, I can deduce many things about these games when playing through them now as an adult, and writing up on them not only focuses on two hobbies at once, but contains a record of what I'm analyzing. Put simply, I can check up on these guys and see how I can enjoy them now that I'm much older.

Has Kirby's Adventure aged well? Yes, it has. Sure, I can beat the game in less then two hours, it's flaws are more apparent to an adult, it's much too easy, and it's obviously designed for beginners. But, you know, screw all of that. I still enjoy it. I can still play it, and that's all I really need.

Thanks, Kirby.

..but the story doesn't end there.


It is early 2002.

The Gamecube was taking it's first steps, and the Game Boy Advance was growing momentum. Sega had finally ceded to the Big N and launched Sonic the Hedgehog games on both Nintendo consoles, an unthinkable concept. Every Nintendo fan was living it up with Super Smash Bros. Melee and hailed it as God's gift to humanity. Super Mario Sunshine and Zelda: The Wind Waker were but specks in the distance, and induced many heated debates as to whether or not they were bags of fresh air or grave transgressions. It was a controversial period.

What was my stand on things? Well, things weren't perfect, but I was content enough with Melee and my newfound love for Earthbound. However, it was Kirby that I had loved most of all. After playing Adventure, I immediately hunted down Kirby Super Star and it quickly became one of my favorite games of all time. Soon enough, it was as if that year was tailor made for me alone, with announcements such as the anime adaption coming stateside and a brand new Kirby for the Advance. What more could I ask for?

Whether or not it was revealed at the explosion that was E3 2002 I do not recall, but it looked hella sweet. The graphics were beautiful, and signaled a return to the Kirby hats, costumes he wears reflecting his abilities, found in Super Star. And hey, a new Kirby platformer, what was not to like about it? Amidst the big name titles coming up such as Sunshine, Star Fox Adventures, and Metroid Prime, this unknown Kirby was just truckin' along making it's way for a winter release...and I was fine with that.

Soon enough, a new batch of screenshots followed. I immediately lunged at the new trove, but as I passed by each picture, my sight taking rampage took a gradual halt.

These screenshots look really familiar....

Um um um um um um um um holy shit

The gears in my head sped ten times faster then normal. The convulsions were beginning to erupt in my muscles. Most importantly, the biggest grin found its way to my face.


Back during this period, Nintendo had a strange habit of porting older games to the GBA, such as the classic Super Mario games, the Donkey Kong Country trilogy and A Link to the Past. Many were critical of this approach, claiming it was just a moneygrubbing scheme on Nintendo's part. My take on it? Perhaps. Either that, or they didn't feel confident enough to release 2D followups to the relics of old.

In any case, Nintendo made a rather odd marketing decision with this title: They never said this game was a remake. Now, I saw the truth immediately and giddily made my way over to message boards to spread the word, but it fell on deaf ears. As a result, certain fans were rather pissed when they picked up what they thought was a brand new game and instead found out it was a remake of a game made nine years prior. Personally, I thought it was hilarious that grown adults were raging on Gamefaqs about being "deceived." I guess Nintendo was partly to blame for not being completely honest, but they should have done their research! Or listened to me. Whatever.

Before I knew it, it was 5th grade. I was playing Super Mario Sunshine and had recently immersed myself in new oddities such as Super Monkey Ball 2 and Animal Crossing, both of which were new prospects in becoming classic franchises; Animal Crossing in particular, which had the entire internet swept off of their needs. I was reading sprite comics and watching the Kirby anime on the shit-filled FoxBox. Life kicked ass. We were getting new information on the remake, and it was to be dubbed Nightmare in Dream Land.

The game launched on December 2nd. I remember the excitement I had when dozens of Kirbies swarmed the screen and revealed the above title screen. I knew from that point that the remake was going to be a special one.

And I was right.

Each and every world I had traversed within the NES version had been lovingly redesigned on a 16-bit format. Every level was just as beautiful as the screenshot above, and a soothing wave of nostalgia coursed through my veins. It was perfect, everything I wanted, and I played it every day on the way to school.
The game wasn't just a visual upgrade, either. We had many new features to explore, such as a Link Cable multiplayer mode..

To new minigames, such as Air Grind, where you glide on rails with Warp Stars..

And Samurai Kirby, where you clash swords in timed button presses.

Even a new mode where you got to play as Meta Knight!!! Here he is taking on King Dedede!

And best of all...the updated music.

I used to listen to this every single day.

This is the updated version of the Rainbow Resort theme, and it was the most beautiful thing in the world to me at the time. That one part at 0:37...ah, gets me every time. My own little piece of paradise.

And yes, before you ask....

There is an arena. You can't see the audience, but they do cheer.

Moving on with the times, I suppose.

I still remember the feelings I had when this game came out. Everyone was continuing to immerse in their addictions for Animal Crossing, and it was a huge hit with all of my friends. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai set the stage for the beloved cartoon's debut on a 3D console, and having recently dived deep into that series' backgrounds ("They were censoring the dub?!?"), I was very excited for the game's launch. The smell of Christmas was in the air, and so were the scent of Spongebob, Nickelodeon, Nintendo and just...everything that ever mattered to me as a kid.

You can't ever become a kid again...but you can never forget.

And that's what counts.

Nightmare in Dream Land remains one of my fondest gaming memories, and Kirby's Adventure continues to sit in it's throne as my top NES game.

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Whew, we're done!!

Expect a short post tomorrow detailing the future plans I have for the blog.

Also, it looks like Silvagunner's account isn't going to be revived anytime soon, so I'll be gradually replacing the songs with alternate videos. On a related note, I was reviewing the Symphonic Legends post and I realized I had made an embarrassing mistake in not embedding the Encore song there. How I forgot to put that in there is beyond me! That will be fixed as well.

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