Nintendo's Amorphous Pink Blob of a Character had an unusual start, and one that hid his tough-guy-fearing colour in shades of Green and Black. Kirby's Dream Land, brought to the Game Boy way back in 1992, featured HAL Laboratory's unofficial mascot in his first game, his mission to retrieve stolen Nosh from the greedy King Dedede. Legend goes that the placeholder gap for the box, which at that point denoted a game yet to have a central character, was decided to be the final design for Kirby, as the simplicity answered the developer's intentions. Success ensued, and a new Nintendo star was born.
His second game, Kirby's Adventure on the Nintendo Entertainment System, once again casts Dedede as the antagonist, this time obviously a bit hacked-off from his last butt-kicking, as he decides to steal the Star Rod, a source of power within Kirby's home of Dreamland. He then brakes the rod into seven pieces, keeps one for himself, and hands out the rest of them to his highest followers. Cue the Pink Powerpuff jumping and floating through the worlds to set things right.
Kirby's Adventure hit the shops in 1992/3, and subsequently won Best NES Game of 1993 by late US Magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly. A remake of the game, entitled Kirby's Nightmare in Dreamland, graced the GBA in 2002, and the original was put up for download on the Wii's Virtual Console a few months after the console's worldwide release, a year before Super Smash Bros Brawl (a series of which Kirby also participates in) featured it as a playable timed demo.
Upon startup, players will be able to see HAL Laboratory's character ideals in motion, as they will see a short piece of example artistry on how to draw Kirby. This unusual opening sets the tone for the rest of the game; as any longtime fan can agree with, the games of this series play like none other.
Kirby's Adventure is of the Platformer genre, and requires players to get from one end of a level to another. Kirby's main draw, and one that was actually introduced in this game, is the ability to copy his opponent's traits. Say for instance, an enemy grunt had a beam shooting out of his fist; one simple vacuuming trick from Kirby, and you would be able to do the same. As well as mimicking the abilities of others (and changing his own colour at the same time), Kirby can suck up and spit them out at other enemies, and also repeatedly puff himself up and float through the level at the touch of the D-Up Pad. This mechanic brings a whole new dimension to the platformer trait, and to this day there hasn't been another quite like it.
Of course, the whole game would be even more of a cakewalk if all you had to do was suck up enemies and not worry about resistance, so HAL set up limits. Power Duplication is limited to one at a time, so if you're using a beam power, and you wish to swipe an enemy's sword, you would have to discard the former with a press of the select button before you could get the latter. A few enemies cannot easily be taken without a beatdown first (represented at the bottom of the screen underneath Kirby's Lifebar.), and bosses require strategy and use of the correct power(s) to prevail over.
Although from the end result it can be seen that HAL tried to make Kirby's Adventure a decent challenge, one element of the character's arsenal brakes the difficulty bar; the floating ability. It can be done at any standing time, regardless of current power, and unlike Mario's P Bar in Super Mario Bros. 3, it has no time limit, so players are free to fly throughout the whole level and avoid almost all obstacles and foes with minimal effort. Although some levels are enclosed, effectively minimizing the amount you can exploit this oversight, it isn't enough.
Also of note are the regular health pickups littering the levels, and a relatively high amount of lives to be had. This generosity would suggest that Kirby's Adventure could be best defined as a 'My first Platformer', but due to its high playability and unique premise, regular gamers that do give it a go will pine for a Hard Mode.
Dreamland echoes the colourful nature of its pink hero by generally consisting of imagination and luminosity. Undoubtedly one of the NES's greatest lookers, K.A heavily utilized the power of its host, drawing on special visual effects, 3D-like backgrounds (that a lot of other platformers like Sonic and Shinobi later took inspiration from), and parallax scrolling. Little surprise then that the game was also one of the NES's largest, weighing in at 6 megabits of data, although it is surprising that this isn't made apparent with the Virtual Console download filesize for the game.
It is unfortunate however, that the framerate, and the level-loading speed of the game, drop in response to everything else. Certainly not a gamebreaker; Kirby can still move left and right at a regular pace, but the tearing is very noticeable, and a shame that it couldn't hold up to the rest of the visual candy.
Sound is another quality of the game that hasn't been shoved aside. Catchy and memorable tunes that have become series staples, make up the glut of the levels, and each ability trait sounds exactly as you'd expect, to the Whoooosh of a Tyre, to the Slash of a Sword. Kirby has no identifiable voice in this game, but the mute nature HAL have given him is a worthy sidearm to his simplistic nature.
Kirby's Adventure spans the breadth of 7 Worlds, each housing a number of Levels, a Boss Room, and side Mini-Games. As such, even with the cheaty nature of the float ability, the game will require players to put in a good number of hours to properly finish, easily obtainable thanks to the automatic save system. A Percentage marker is used in the game, keeping track of how much has been completed, so even after beating the final boss, there will be reason to revisit, and due to the lack of any kind of multiplayer mode, this'll be the only perquisite.
Kirby's Adventure is only 500 points on the Wii's shop channel, and is an excellent introduction to the series of Nintendo's most unique character. Recommended.