Since his debut on the Nintendo Gameboy in 1992, Kirby has become a well-loved and notable character in Nintendo’s ever growing cadre of characters. He’s pretty much right up there in popularity with Link and Mario and even though his series library isn’t as large as theirs, Kirby continues to be popular with fans of all ages with it’s innovative gameplay, difficulty balancing and general fun. To date, Kirby has had 16 games released and all of them are just outright amazing and fun! Recently on October 24th of this year, Nintendo and Hal Laboratories bequeathed upon us Kirby’s Return to Dreamland for the Nintendo Wii. About damn time the Wii gets a decent game, right? Anyway, let’s break it down and take a look at Kirby for the Wii!
Kirby’s Return to Dreamland plays in 2.5D, a style that has been used once before in Kirby 64 for the Nintendo 64 system. Other than that, Kirby was always a 2D game(At least for the adventure-type games and not counting the racing/puzzle games). The story for Kirby Wii(Too lazy to keep typing out the whole title. Sue me.) is pretty simple and straight-forward. An alien ship crash lands on Pop Star and Kirby, being the non-douchebag hero of the game, offers to help the alien(Who’s name is revealed to be Magolor) to fix his ship, the Lor Starcutter. You’ll traverse the five corners of Pop Star collecting pieces of the ship that blew off during its crash. On top of that, you’re also collecting 120 pieces of gears that are hidden in every level that not only go back to the ship, but also unlock rooms and sub-games within the Lor Starcutter. More on that later.
As with the previous and recent titles, Kirby has the ability to “Copy” abilities from specific foes. But the interesting thing about this is that Kirby can expand on the techniques as opposed to Kirby’s Adventure on the NES, where what you got was what you can do. Not this time, however! For example, let’s say you inhale and swallow Knuckle Joe. Anyone that has played this series extensively knows that you’ll get the Fighter Ability from him. Well, what I mean by ability expansion is that Kirby performs techniques on par with Ryu from the Street Fighter series such as performing Hadoukens and slamming foes with Shoryukens! Also, there will be times when there is a bunch of enemies and blocks in front of you and you might not have an ability to use. No problem! Simply start inhaling then shake the Wiimote and Kirby goes into Hoover Vacuum mode and sucks EVERYTHING up. At this point, you can spit out a HUGE Star that slowly goes across the length of the screen, demolishing anything in it’s path. What makes it funny, is that your co-op partners can get caught up in it’s path and comically spin along with it, but not take any damage.
So, regardless of what ability you pick up, Kirby can utilize it to its highest potential! Now, the game only has 22 basic abilities, 4 of which are new to the series(Leaf, Water, Whip and Spear). However, the game contains 5 Super Abilities that can be used to clear out multiple enemies, as well as destroying the environment which would be hiding secret areas and whatnot. The Super Abilities, however, have an energy bar. So, you can’t use them repeatedly like you would it’s basic counterparts. Oh well, the diverse amount of the normal abilities definitely makes up for the lack of Super Abilities, so it’s not a bad deal.
One of the more nifty features to this game is the “drop-in/drop-out” multiplayer! You can play with up to 3 other people locally by simply pressing the “+” button on their respective Wiimote. Don’t feel like playing anymore? No problem! Simply press and hold the “+” button and out you go! When you decide to hop in, you can choose from 4 playable characters:
-Kirby(Changes color depending on the player slot)
-Meta Knight(Total bad-ass!)
-King DeDeDe (Jumbo Penguin Extraordinaire)
-Waddle Dee(Comes with a spear…cool.)
Each character has their own individual techniques, despite the fact that the characters’ abilities are modeled after one of the 22 basic abilities that Kirby can use, albeit slightly modified. The downside to co-op is that everytime another player pops in, it takes a 1-Up away from Kirby’s stock as opposed to New Super Mario Bros, in which every player has his or her own stock of extra lives. So with that, your partners have to be extra careful to not…you know…die all the time. Health is still regained by consuming food and you can pass on the health gain to your co-op partners as well. With good team work and communication, you can easily dominate the main game with no difficulty.
If you’re tired of playing the main game, then by all means relax with a mini-game! The Kirby series is notorious for having mini-games within it’s main game and some of them earn you extra lives, too! There are 11 mini-games in Kirby Wii, and all of them are SUPER good. The mini-game depicted above is called “Ninja Dojo” and it’s one of my favorites. Once again, you can have up to 4 people playing at the same time, and that’s when things get competitive! The object of Ninja Dojo is to throw your one and only shuriken at the target. Obviously, the ideal goal is to hit the bulls-eye for maximum points, but this mini-game has an added twist. Some targets move, some teleport around, some are obscured by objects and enemies and some bounce and roll in awkward directions. The game has 3 levels, each one having more targets to hit in order to advance to the next round.
The other mini-games are Challenge Rooms for some of Kirby’s basic abilities, although not all of them. They require you to use a specific ability and get through the stage or stages within a certain amount of time. Your performance will be rewarded with bronze, silver, gold or platinum medals. Not too sure if you earn items from it, but it’s always a possibility. Of course these mini-games aren’t available off the bat. You have to collect a certain amount of gears in the main game levels to unlock them, so really look for them as these games are a good way of playing casually if you get burnt out from the main game.
All in all, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland is very fun and entertaining. It’s a great blend of platformer action, balanced gameplay and entertainment. The multiplayer aspect is very fun, especially if your younger siblings are whining about not getting to play. Instead of giving them five across the eyes, hand them a Wiimote and enjoy yourselves. Hopefully with the success of this title, more may come about as putting Kirby on the Wii can expand it’s gameplay farther than the portable consoles ever could hope to imagine! Now only if Pokemon could follow the same idea…
Until next episode…