VC Weekly 301

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe’s guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo’s download service. Written by Sam C Gittins

Platforming aficianado's rejoice! For we have a remake of a Nintendo great and like all of the 'best' it's developed by the legendary Hal Laboratory so you know what's coming next. Anyway enough from me and on with the game!
Available for download this week we have...     

Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland

Price: GB £6.29, EU €6.99
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Hal Laboratory
Released: 2002
System: GBA

Originally the first Kirby game on the NES was a classic, so what better template for Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland to replicate? This is indeed a remake but one that adds a little more substance while trying to retain the original style but with a more detailed sheen to it, this GBA remake certainly helped in bringing the series up to date even if in this modern age it does seem a little bit more sedate than very recent offerings: regardless though this title still contains most of the wacky elements that you will most likely have come to expect by now. The story goes like this, in  Dreamland, there is a fountain called the Fountain of Dreams, it held the dreams of all beings in Dreamland; then all of a sudden the residents became restless meaning that they couldn't dream! The greedy King Dedede was taking a  bath in the Fountain, while doing so it seems he broke the source of its power - the StarRod - giving them to his servants so Kirby now has to get the Star Rod back in one piece by restoring it and so our adventure begins.  


Generally every main title in the Kirby series plays in a remarkably similar way so this is no exception as you have your levels - featuring many attractively alliterative names including Ice Cream Island, Grape Garden & Orange Ocean - which act as the hub, within which you have numbered stages in which you must guide Kirby from the start to the flashing star door at the end using a handful of simple yet satisfying moves. Using the d-pad to walk, run or even copy abilities once you've inhaled them using the 'B' button, it won't take you long to get into a rhythym as you float on using the 'A' button which will see you past many a hazard; being that the first game has been used as a base for this adventure some seasoned players may find that the structure is a little too simple especially if you start playing this off the back of completing the excellent 3DS title Kirby's Triple Deluxe which actually managed to elevate the standard of the series to something with a bit more substance but with that said, for many younger or inexperienced players this might prove to be an ideal entry point.


Though I may undersell it slightly we all know that the level design isn't generally why anyone signs up to play a Kirby title, the main draw is our little pink pal's ability to... well, steal other abilities from his enemies and being that you have quite a substantial assortment of them to contend with you should soon start to find quite the selection of powers to play with as well throughout the many varied stages. Such super-powers include Back-Drop, Beam, Bomb, Cutter, Fire, Hammer, Hi-Jump, Laser, Needle, Spark, Tornado plus many more; my personal favourites would have to be the good old trusty Sword ability which mimics Link from The Legend of Zelda series, Freeze which draws inspiration from Popo of Ice Climbers fame plus the best of all for me which is the Burning ability because it at least vaguely reminds me of the classic 'Fire Shield' power from Sonic & Knuckles even if this might be unintentional it's a plus for me as no other game has come close to replicating that power for me until now, so in short there is a favourite power up for everyone and half of the fun comes simply from experimenting with them.

It would seem that there is a fair amount of content crammed into this adventure because in addition to the six numbered stages per level plus a main boss battle - containing many classic bosses reborn such as the mighty Kracko - there are also multiple mini-bosses to defeat scattered liberally through the levels - the one I liked most was the Fire Lion - which themselves can have multiple paths which adds to the replay value, there are even hidden stages to unlock by hitting hidden switches - it all counts towards the 100% rating - so there's plenty to keep you engaged. Not only that though but you also get several mini-games such as one where you race against other Kirby characters while grinding along a rail on a warp star by pressing 'A' at the right time, a quick reaction samurai style battle and even a game of 'keep up' using frying pans plus a bomb; it's worth nothing that these later become playing on their own from the main menu which can provide come light relief from the main quest but while in-game they are an excellent way to earn extra lives which I must have ended up with over fifty of towards the end of the game thanks to tactful use of the restore points feature - use responsibly! - which can help to prevent quite as many of those 'oh bother! I just fell down a hole!' moments of which there are many.


Looking pretty decent whether its on the big screen or the gamepad, this is another title which certainly benefits from the handy screen-smoothing ability present in all GBA VC games at a click of the right stick, aside from that though everything about this title has been finely polished as you get a whole load of amazing detail packed into the backgrounds in addition to the sprites which are amazingly well animated as you might expect from the legendary Hal Laboratory; indeed just the sheer variation in themes from one section to the next is nothing short of stunning as you progress from lush greenlands, through underwater areas, deep into dark forests and over waterfalls while overlooking spectacular orange skies... it's simply a masterclass in aesthethics which do well in 'wowing' the player. Of course the soundtrack is decent as ever featuring some classic returning tracks which are just as easy to hum along to as they always have been, every piece of music is perfectly paired which each stage with the music even seeming to change at certain points on the level hub which is a nice touch, all of the main sound effects are present here as well making this feel like a more complete package especially if you're a fan of the series who appreciates these small things which matter.


For me I would have to say that Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland has been well worth playing through even quite soon after completing the recent 3DS game, I didn't get to play this adventure of Kirby's on the GBA back in the day but I'm glad that I've put that right now because it's one of the most charming re-awakening of the first game that I've ever had the pleasure of playing. While it could be argued that you could just as easily play the 3D classics version of the NES game instead I think that would be missing the point; this is an essential purchase for any Kirby fan but I would say that just make sure you go into it knowing exactly what to expect then you won't be disappointed at all, in any case this title feels like a classic to me even if it's not perfect, it's still Kirby which is all that matters.

Verdict : Kirby's escapades remain enjoyable as ever.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

© Copyright 2024 - Independent Nintendo Coverage Back to the Top