Game of the Month: May 2017
Kirby's Adventure - NES / Famicom
This month of May we indeed can all be merry, with the celebration of our official RGG Game of the Month! This May however is different in that it's a celebration of one of the most underrated and important releases for a system many "D" list youtube celebrities will try and constantly convince you saved the entire video game industry... sigh! On a console blessed with numerous and exceptional platform games filled with cool characters, one plastic cart housed something truly unique. A video game based around a character that on the surface looked too cute for it's own good but underneath contained the heart of a warrior poet. Get ready to appreciate the real pink pleasurer.
Normally a certain Decepticon leader rolls off these GOTM features but when you have a franchise expert with an undying love for the game in question on hand... well, you just gotta pass the Mic over and take a seat right? Olly023 is about to drop some lyrics on ya! Recognize!!!
Kirby's Adventure is just one of those games that no matter how many times you replay it, it continues to stand the test of time. Not only that, but this particular title is much like a poncho; it's impossible to be unhappy when playing it (or wearing, as per the poncho).
Released in Japan as Kirby of the Stars: The Story of the Fountain of Dreams on the 23rd of March 1993, but Kirby's Adventure hit North American shores on May 1st of the same year. It's because of the latter fact making this an anniversary tie-in for GOTM!
Developed by HAL Laboratory, Masahiro Samurai (Kirby's creator) returned to the hot seat of Director/Designer, with Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto sharing producer credits alongside Takao Shimizu.
If you are sat there thinking - why is Kirby's Adventure the Game Of The Month and not his original outing (Kirby's Dream Land) from the year prior? Well, the answer is simple. While this isn't the first Kirby game, it's arguably the most important alongside being one of (if not) the best.
There is a great many reasons as to why I wrote that, but let me breakdown some reasons as to why. One of the first, most obvious yet often overlooked reasons: Kirby is pink! On the Game Boy original it was clearly difficult to put over a colour in sprite form, but even the box was showing a whiter, almost ghostly Kirby. Both the box art(s) and once the cart fires up it's no question anymore!
Pinkness aside, Kirby's Adventure gave Kirby arguably his most defining feature: the copy (and mix, obvz) ability! Now the Kirbster is no longer just sucking wind, instead inhaling enemies and when you press the down button then BOOM! So other than just the abilities carried over such as jumping, flying (or rather inflating and floating about) and inhaling in general; Kirby now has 25 (or 26 including Mix) extra options adding variety and switched up gameplay that just makes the experience so, so much cooler and original. Such was the success of the copy ability here is that it is now synonymous with the franchise and the Kirby character!
Thus clearly there's some big changes here from a mechanics point of view, but if you thought that would be the only long standing effects on the series from Kirby's Adventure's additions. Not only does King Dedede return, but this was the game that introduced the world to fan favourite Meta Knight (not to be confused with the Meta Knights regular enemies and bosses). And let's be fair, who doesn't love Meta Knight?! He remains an important part of Kirby canon to this very day, featuring in the strong majority of releases in some form or other.
Maintaining the unquestionable narrative this GOTM article is heading, yet another induction of the Kirby favourites arrived with this games release. Mini-games! Yes! Crane Fever, Egg Catcher, Quick Draw and Arena all feature (alongside VS Boss once you beat the story mode). These are all able to enter by way of the level lobbies.
So, I've explained the many things that make this so special in perfecting the Kirby formula and as to why this is such an important release, but let's discuss the game itself in more reviewing form. Kirby's Adventure in short is pure eye/ear candy; graphically gorgeous, with marvellous music and some of the straight up prettiest presentation the NES ever saw.
Kirby's story poses the question: what would Dream Land be without dreams? A Nightmare! One day Kirby's taking his casual nappage, but when he awakes he realises he had no dreams! Checking in on the Fountain of Dreams he witnesses King Dedede just splashing about in the waters with the Star Rod all broken. Thus the Adventure begins, with Kirby traversing seven lands (lobbies/levels) to grab back the pieces of the Star Rod which eventually leads back to The Fountain of Dreams and the Popstar Moon where Kirby must take on the end boss (Nightmare).
The game is beautifully linear but allows the player to backtrack and replay any stage at any time. Each main stage is fantastic side-scrolling platform fun. The completion of each stage involves the mini Goal Game to hunt for extra points and 1-Up's, accompanied by Kirby's famous victory dance. The level design is near perfect and allows multiple play styles which adds to replay factor. The various copy abilities add to this, but besides that the design is in a way that allows straight forward runs, or more exploration including secret rooms, etc which can even open up new sections of the level lobby.
Everything is so damn colourful that it honestly feels as if Masahiro Sakurai an absolute wizard sprinkling magic about the place to stretch the NES' colour palette to whole new lengths. The amount of care in Kirby's Adventure and clever use of colour even goes toward the fact the level names form the acronym VIBGYOR (ROYGBIV) standing for colours of the rainbow, with the introductions to each level being surrounded by the relative colour. Truly above and beyond!
Controls are on point and Kirby's Adventure follows the design principles originally set out by Sakurai. By that I mean this is a perfect entry for gamers of all ages and experience levels. Nothing says pick up and play on Nintendo’s 8-Bit console than this very game, it's as simple and blunt as that.
Kirby's Adventure has the distinction of being the largest official NES cartridge. Included is the welcome save options. But part the reason for this could be the incredible programming techniques utilised by the devs to allow some of the most impressive visuals you'll ever see on the NES. With pseudo 3D elements, rotation and parallax scrolling, the beauty is still absolutely jaw dropping. The fact they went against the grain and used the less advanced, less expensive and incredibly common MMC3 mapper chip is enough to make a grown man cry from the previously mentioned wizardry.
Consider the fact this was a late generation release, I honestly feel it is high quality enough to make those who cashed in their NES to upgrade to the SNES jealous. Kirby's Adventure is just that super special, folks. It's a game that made me a very, very happy Olly023 when I was that one kid rocking a Nintendo Entertainment System (alongside the mighty Sega MegaDrive) and remains one of, if not my most favourite Nintendo game ever made.
Just take into account I'm a man who typically associates and recommends people get Kirby handheld games. This is the ultimate Kirby release, it really is. It solidified the character as my all time favourite Nintendo family member.
The legacy of Kirby's Adventure is huge and is still felt today. The game has since been remade as Kirby: Knightmare in Dream Land for the Game Boy Advance and was remade again as a 3D Classic on the 3DS. Remakes aside, the game has been re-released multiple times via the Virtual Console service and most recently it was a part of the NES Mini Classic console. Truly immortalised time and again, it is also a part of the NES Remix package!
It's safe to say Kirby's Adventure remains a big game that Nintendo are incredibly proud of and rightly so. One of the greatest games ever made and a must play for anyone. Literally anyone... Which is a nice way of saying everyone!
Thank you HAL, thank you Nintendo and especially thank you Masahiro Sakurai! Turns out that Pink really is the coolest colour!