Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land (Game Boy Advance) Review

By Adam Riley 25.10.2003

Review for Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land on Game Boy Advance

Kirby, Nintendo’s pink, puffy, über-cute mascot has had rather a tumultuous career since his initial introduction back in 1986, with his last outing being a rather dismal effort (Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards…*shudders*). But, in an attempt to bring the HAL Laboratory-created character back to his best, his first adventure on the NES has been revamped for the GameBoy Advance. Keep on reading to find out just how the title holds up against today’s tough standards…

Here is the premise, straight from the manual: “The peaceful world of Dream Land is in great danger. In Dream Land, dreams had always flowed out from the wonderful Fountain of Dreams, which the Fountain of Dreams collected the hopes and dreams of all living things. It also provided all the good dreams and rest that come from deep sleep. But one day, everyone in Dream Land lost the ability to dream! Apparently, King DeDeDe had been bathing in the Fountain of Dreams! Not only that, but DeDeDe had taken the Star Rod – the source of power of the Fountain of Dreams – and broken it into pieces, giving one to each of his underlings. Now, Kirby must embark on an adventure to restore peaceful naptimes to all the residents of Dream Land…”

Why did I type all that out for you to read? Well, simply to show you just how half-baked the story is…oh, and just how damn abysmal the writer of it really is! Do they not realise that too much repetition of certain words shows a total lack of professionalism? Even, if being aimed at children is used as an excuse, tales for youngsters are not usually that simplified. Anyway, back to the review…

Screenshot for Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land on Game Boy Advance

We surveyed a 100 people and asked, ‘What can a developer do to convince a horde of salivating gamers that their money should go towards what is fundamentally a gaming product that is nearly twenty years of age?’ Well, for starters you can tart things up to the maximum…to which our survey replied ’DING!’ Over 70% of people said ‘snazzier graphics’ would possibly entice them*, which is, thankfully, exactly what HAL Laboratory, Inc has done for the GameBoy Advance remake of Kirby’s Adventure. All you need to really do for proof of this statement is to admire the gorgeous screenshots that are dotted around this here C3 Review. In terms of 2D prettiness nary a GBA game on the market can even come close to this title – it sits right up there with the likes of other 2D beauties such as Yoshi’s Island, Wario Land 4 and Metroid Fusion.

Kirby exudes flair and panache – be it the lush artistic landscapes, dynamic graphical flashes of genius (like some of the lighting on Kirby’s travels) or the general level of attention-to-detail on the different costumes worn by The Pink One; everything is a complete visual delight. Just to highlight one particular example, the change of costumes that Kirby undertakes on consuming one of his enemies. This specific feature was not present in his début escapade, but has now been incorporated after the plaudits HAL received for including it in more recent Kirby titles such as Kirby’s Fun Pak on the SNES. On swallowing one of the many on-coming adversaries, the pink puff-ball will morph somewhat as he gains a new ability – this can also be seen in the screenshots in this review, with Kirby becoming a pale blue colour with icicles on his head when adopting the capacity to freeze, or donning a Link-esque hat upon obtaining a sword. Oh, and if you are wondering why the frame-rate has not been mentioned, it is purely because there are no issues with it – not even when there are many enemies flying around on-screen during the four-player main game option – all is smooth and slow-down free! If I ever meet up with the HAL bunch (hmm…not likely to happen!), then I would indeed buy them all a drink to congratulate them on such a high calibre job…

Screenshot for Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land on Game Boy Advance

Those that have played the title that this is based off of will be right at home with Nightmare in Dream Land, as this update remains extremely faithful to what should probably be deemed as its 'father'. Thankfully, though, the tunes here have been spruced-up to take advantage of the GBA's extra processing power and superior sound chip - so if you have the chance, either hook your system up to a pair of ear-phones or even plug in your computer speakers and sub-woofer for the ultimate experience! Kirby adventures have always been light-hearted in nature, and this is evidently reflected in the game's soundtrack. With bouncy tunes that have a nice speedy pace to them one second and lilting, atmospheric ones the next, players will find it hard to get too frustrated whilst playing as their spirits will be so high and their ears overjoyed! The only shame is that a few of the tracks in-game can be quite bland at times, but with the rest being so catchy, it is hard to be too harsh with any criticism. Also, the wealth of sound effects (all of which can be listened to along with the music tracks in the Sound Test option on the main screen) help to round off a pretty darn solid package in this field! Music-a-licious!

What needs to be remembered here is that whilst Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land is essentially a graphically re-worked version of an ancient 8-bit NES game, many titles released back in those days relied on their solid gameplay to impress gamers. Therefore you should not shirk this update on the premise that it might feel old and stale because, to put it simply, that would be a rather foolish and naïve point-of-view. Being one to have sampled the delights of the original version on my trusty Nintendo Entertainment System, I can safely reveal that things are just as fresh now as they were ‘back in the day’. The game retains the staple Kirby traits, such as being able to fly by inhaling air and rapidly pressing the jump button, sliding across the ground by ducking and hitting any action button and swimming with the greatest of ease. Also here, though, is one of the game’s focal points – namely the ability to suck your enemies up and absorb their powers, with examples including being able to become a sword-wielding warrior, grasp a razor-sharp parasol or devastate your assailants with a whip-like beam of electricity. But worry not as there have been a few additions to the formula in order to cater for today’s society demands.

Screenshot for Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land on Game Boy Advance

Therefore, on top of the intelligently designed levels that make sure that the player gets the most out of the ability-changing aspect and the simplicity of the controls for a pick-up-and-play experience, there are some minor changes to the final product. For instance, certain hidden doors have now been made easier to find, four players can (if they all have copies of the game, hmm) take part in the main adventure and there is now the addition of extra sub-games to increase enjoyment in both one- and multi-player modes. There are three initial games, ‘Quick Draw’ (with the victor being the first person to hit ‘A’ when indicated), Bomb Rally (the aim being to swing your paddle and hit the bomb away from yourself as quickly as possible) and ‘Kirby’s Air Grind’ (where combatants race along intertwining rails in the sky – and is probably more enjoyable than Kirby’s Air Ride on the GameCube! Hehe…), along with a hidden sub-game by the name of Boss Endurance (where you keep fighting each boss in the game until you win or die – there are no health top-ups either!). This final sub-game is only accessible once the player has progressed through the entire game, finding all 100% of the hidden elements scattered around Dream Land. In conclusion, all of the above results in a title that is immensely pleasurable to play and will not easily un-lodge itself from your handheld systems – just the same as any 2D Mario, Wario or Metroid title. A true testament to what can be achieved with the Kirby franchise with a little effort…

Screenshot for Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land on Game Boy Advance

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Many of you will have sampled the wonder that is Kirby's Fun Pak (or Kirby Super Star outside Europe) or even the lovely never-released-in-the-UK Kirby's Dreamland 3 back in the days of the Super Nintendo. Well, Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land manages to surpass both of those games with relative ease, proving that a classic original will nearly always out-do its successors in terms of overall quality. This title will appeal to Kirby stalwarts and newcomers to the pink blob alike. It is just a shame that Nintendo took a whole year to bring it over from Japan, meaning that UK gamers have mostly overlooked it as they will have already imported! But if you do not have it yet, then why not rush out to the nearest gaming emporium and pick yourself a copy of this before it disappears forever?


HAL Laboratory




2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Comments are currently disabled

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?

There are 1 members online at the moment.