Kirby’s Dream Land 2 Retro Review: Gray Puffballs and Furry Friends
For those of you too young to remember Nintendo once launched some of their big name franchises on their handhelds, the first of which was their lovable powderpuff Kirby. His first Game Boy game “Kirby’s Dream Land” hit stores in August of 1992, whereas he didn’t make his console debut on the NES until later that year. The franchise continued to grow in popularity with the re-release of “Kirby’s Adventure” for the Game Boy as “Nightmare in Dream Land,” as well as a couple of spin-off titles like “Dream Course” and “Avalanche” for the SNES, and “Pinball Land” for the Game Boy, but he didn’t see a proper sequel until 1994’s “Dream Land 2.” It came out right around the start of the SNES era, so the Game Boy fans still had something to play before the advent of the Game Boy Color, and it was released the year as the Super Game Boy allowing it to take advantage of some of that peripheral’s special features.
The game’s manual explains the basic plot; Dream Land is in trouble again from unknown forces, and you need these shards of a star in order to defeat it. Since Kirby can’t do it alone, the game features Yoshi-like mounts named Rick, Coo, and Kine to defeat enemies, and progress through the levels using their specific powers as a hamster, owl, and land-roaming fish respectively. Rick can move faster and jump higher, but cannot fly. Coo can hover, but, like Kirby, has no attack on its own. Kine can move in all directions undisturbed, but has to jump to move on water. All of these companions have improved attacks when they combine their powers with Kirby’s absorbed features that he gets from chowing down, and the upgrades are required to get the star shards.
Each world has three short stages to complete with the star shard in between them, and a boss. They are the standard, cutesy fare we’ve come to expect from every Kirby game with a degree of difficulty. When you complete a stage completely, a small star-studded door frame appears above the stage saying you’ve done well. This also increases the difficulty of the impeding boss, but it doesn’t make them too challenging, it is a Kirby game after all. The boss will have a couple more projectiles, or be slightly faster, but Kirby has always been a solid platformer for kids who are up for a little bit of a challenge. It was the same way with the original “Kirby’s Adventure,” after you beat the game completely and unlocked Hard Mode. All that is really needed is one of Kirby’s better absorb powers and you’ll be fine.
The music and audio sound like they are really pulled directly from “Kirby’s Adventure,” as well as a couple other games from HAL Laboratory, so it’s not anything special or interesting, except when you realize how well they brought over the soundtrack from the NES to the Game Boy. Upon further examination you may realize that the game, and all the Kirby games before it, use Game Boy-capable music up until that era, making it slightly less impressive.
“Kirby’s Dream Land 2″ was a pretty solid platformer for its time, especially taking into consideration the Game Boy’s graphical and gameplay capabilities of the system that had such older classics as “Super Mario Land” and “Metroid 2.” While the game’s hero, enemies, and levels remain very simple with rounded bodies and backgrounds, HAL included a lot of animation in those sprites; from bopping one’s head onto the floor, to a hamster breathing fire, to a dancing little puffball, this game could clearly move. It really shows the dedication and innovation of the designers involved since they were able to pack that much flavor into a small cartridge for an hour-long game. This may have been one of the reasons that Nintendo was, and still is, the master of the hand-held market.
“Kirby’s Dream Land 2″ was developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Game Boy and was released on December 12th, 1994.