Friday, July 25, 2014

Emulator Hour: 3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure (NES/3DS)

I have a confession to make.

With the exception of playing the the first couple of levels in Stage 1 of Kirby's Dream Land and the demo for Kirby's Epic Yarn back at PAX2010, I have never played through any of the games in the Kirby franchise.  Until recently that is, which is why today I am bringing to you:

Kirby's Adventure was first released on the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1993, near the end of the NES' life, which was two years into the SNES' release into North America.  All of that backstory aside, Kirby's Adventure is a lot of fun!

Now that I think about it, I cannot remember m/any of my friends either playing any of the Kirby games or recommending Kirby.  Actually, that is not entirely true and I did play, as previously mentioned, Kirby's Dream Land on the Gameboy that belonged to my cousin, probably back in 1993/94.  I have known about Kirby, but just never got around to playing any of the games in the series.  I probably just convinced myself that I was too old for that kind of a game.

I know that a lot of you already know this and that I am just late to the proverbial party, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy playing the game.  It is a very simple platformer when you want to run and other times you can intake a body-full of air and simply fly around.  You can swallow almost every enemy and about half of those you can gain a special ability (spit fire, shoot lasers, emit sparks, wield a Donkey-Kong-esque hammer, et cetera).  Even when falling, Kirby takes a diving pose whereby he causes damage to enemies in his way.  However, the game is not a pushover as I do die on occasion and there have been a couple of bosses that have given me a run for my um, something-or-other. There is challenge to this game, but it is a fun and entertaining challenge.  Maybe if there was not a save feature then this game would fall from what it is to the difficulty level of games such as Super Mario Bros. 3.

My biggest critique about the game is that the color palette seems to be muted when compared to other platformers like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Mega Man 4, which is probably why at first I thought I was playing a Super Game Boy version of Kirby's Dream Land and not the NES release, which Dr. Potts kindly pointed out.  This is not true though for all levels/stages, but it was the "first impression" that I got when first playing.  Maybe if the fire that Kirby spat was red or if the ice he emitted had been blue instead of the yellow/orange tint that all of his abilities seem to have I would "feel better"?  And yes, I realize that I am making requests of an NES game that can now legally drink alcohol.

One of my favorite aspects of the game is that there does not seem to be one power that overpowers all the others.  Sure one power might be better than another in a specific situation, but I have yet to come across an ability, even one absorbed from a boss that singularly outweighs any other ability.  Sure, the laser is a fast long range attack, but it does not seem to do as much damage as other attacks, especially against those pesky bosses.  That is one of the best things about Kirby's  Adventure is figuring out what power would work best against a certain enemy or boss or how a given power is beneficial in a particular circumstance.

The 3D effect is pretty subtle as it pulls the background back in a single layer keeping Kirby, the platforms and enemies in the foreground.  I have noticed that most of the time I have the 3D effect either turned down low or off completely, but that is simply me wanting to conserve battery life.  The effects are nothing to write home to dear old Ma about, but considering that it is a 3D port of an NES game, I feel like whomever did the conversion did a good job without sacrificing gameplay or the now often mentioned "frame rate"; as in there is no lag between 2D and 3D modes.

After having played the game for just over three hours, I am 53% of the way through, which is nice to know that there is still plenty of game for me to come back to when I need a break from Donkey Kong Country Returns and all the annoyances that come with dying 38+ times in a single level.  I think that is one of the things that remains endearing (but not disarming) about Kirby's Adventure, is that I can pick up a 21 year old platformer and have a lot of fun.  I would not be surprised if I decide to go back through levels just to see what it is like with a different array of weapons choices or without powers at all.  

Big thank you to HAL Laboratory for their fun creation.


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