Review by Retro
Dedicated to the special colleague we (usually) call Masters
1993. Two years after Super Mario World was released and the SNES was strongly showing off its 16-bit muscle. Nintendo knew that an end to their 8-bit powerhouse was inevitable, but they weren't at peace with letting it die in a less than stellar way. The result was one of the greatest games to ever see the light of day for the system.
Introducing Kirby's Adventure. It appears at first like this is nothing more than just another run of the mill platformer with yet another hero that longs to make a name for himself as a famous mascot. But looks only run skin deep, and you only see what you look for. You're just looking to make it to the end of these ever so short beginning stages that seem too easy for their own good when you come up on a run-and-jump nemesis that's coming straight for you. Kirby jumps and...wtf. He becomes airborne! Mario always needed a tail or wings on his cap, but this marshmallow that's naked save a pair of shoes, can fly at will as often and as long as it wants.
Well this seems easy. Let's just flap away into the starry skies and dodge everything that comes our way. After only a few feet, Kirby finds out that he's not the only one that can fly! He didn't even see that poor man's bird coming before it hit him full force. Boiling mad, you press a certain button to punch him, but....what's this?! Kirby, the innocent looking marshmallow, just sucked in this foe. He can just spit this foul tasting enemy out of his mouth to form a deadly projectile, or he can steal and then use its power! Ha, that'll show them. If enemies want to imitate Kirby's flying, then he'll go a step further in the copycat mode and use their own weapons against them!
While not necessary in a relatively long NES game that's easy enough for a seasoned platformer player to complete in two sittings, Kirby's flying and mimicing antics are what makes Kirby's Adventure a memorable one. At times, the level designs even seem to be made just for certain abilities. Some enemies have a phobia of heights and are floating down slowly with open umbrellas - and you can see why! It must be at least a 500-foot drop off that ledge. Suck in and swallow one of them to obtain your own umbrella. But don't be nice. Float down slowly, but when you come near a fellow acrophobic, whack him a good one with your umbrella to end his misery! In a certain cavern, idiotic idiots are keeping watch over your progress like security guards. They're big, so I wouldn't get too close if I were you. No sweat, use the laser you just acquired to shoot the side of the rock in front of you that's curved in a 45-degree angle and watch it ricochet until it hits your fearsome adversary right between the eyes!
That's Kirby's Adventure in a nutshell. Interesting weapons to steal, the power of flight, and great level design make for one top notch title. But we've only rubbed the surface. Dig deeper into Kirby's world and you'll find even more magic to be unearthed. Literally. When a stage is finished, Kirby uses his weight to plant a flag into the ground to mark its completion. Simultaneously, what was once solid dirt unfolds into a door that leads to the next level. You see this every time, but what could that extra passage be that has an egg or other item over it? Ooooo, a bonus level! These are nice touches too. Remember how you enjoyed playing those crane games at arcades to pick up a stuffed animal or other item to add to your collection? Kirby likes them too, but he prefers using them to garner more lives. And we've seen that he has good aim with items such as hammers and swords, but how will he fare in a western desert where only the quickest draw survives?
You'd better be quick when you face a boss too! It's alright if you have a weapon to use, but it likely won't last long because you'll get hit and lose it. It seems like each boss wants to die, because every few seconds they do something that makes a couple of stars, spit, or other item come out that Kirby can devour (ewwwwww) and use against it. Unfortunately, neither the bosses nor the battles tend to have any particular flare that makes you remember themuntil theyre dead! Like your normal everyday enemies, bosses can be inhaled and then used. Thus, Kirby's identity crisis continues! The bosses' weapons are even better, for the most part. Kirby always did want to be an opera singer, and given the right item, he can scream so loud in a microphone that his counterparts go so deaf they die. When his throat gets sore from doing that, defeat a huge wheel and then morph into a miniature tire and cruise along at Sonic-like speeds through tall hills and lively foes!
In addition to the various levels that take you through everything from the insides of a tree that have perfectly carved platforms, to slippery ice with the gorgeous northern lights overhead, there's a lot of sights to take in. No background or stage characteristic will wow you or make your jaw drop, but the beauty in the subtleness of them is amazing. Kirby enjoys dreaming, and even without knowing the plot (recover the Star Rod so Kirby & friends can have blissful dreams again!), you can simply look around and tell you're in Dream Land. The pulsating cloud formations that look so strangely perfect, the trillions of cartoonish stars, and the majestic 8-bit waterfalls are so subtle yet beautiful that they can only come from a dream. And only a dream can have 8-bit graphics that look so close to being 16-bit.
I've had vivid dreams myself. Especially when I bowled underground with an alien that refused to let me go back home until I bowled 1,000 strikes with Kellogg's Corn Pops, but one way in which dreams aren't so extravagant is the way they sound. Kirby's Adventure has nice enough effects and they fit the mood, but none make a lasting impression. The music's the same - Nintendo could've dreamed up better selections.
But man, why criticize Kirby's Adventure for little things like that when you see how much work was put into every other aspect. I even like how they made it where, when you pause the game, the screen doesn't just freeze or flash the word "Pause" up there - it gives you hints on how to use various weapons and other strategies.
Kirby's Adventure will be remembered by thousands as being the last great NES game. Using all those weapons and flying at will never succeed in growing old and tainted. This is one of those platformers you'll go back to long after your journey's over. Especially when you remember that you can venture back to any level, and that any stage's door that remains brown after completed symbolizes that you missed some secret items in that stage. I want 100%! Or maybe I'll just start all over again. Its a win-win situation.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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