The console wars were well under way in 1993. The Super NES was into its second year and already had a formidable library of games under its belt. It was competing against the Sega Genesis, who had an amazing library of its own. Many gamers were immersed in the 16-bit era of gaming. Meanwhile, though, the original NES was quietly sputtering to the finish line with its last few titles. Not many people knew of these games, as the only notable titles were Wario’s Woods and Mega Man 6. But unbeknownst to anyone, the NES was about to release a platformer that would not only rank among the best of that time, but also one that would spawn a whole new franchise. That game was Kirby’s Adventure.
Originally made by Nintendo via the HAL Laboratory, Kirby’s Adventure sees the light of day once more this week via the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console. The premise is a simple one. Kirby is a little pink puffball living in a world known as Dream Land. He must stop the evil King Dedede from permanently unleashing a barrage of nightmares on the denizens of Dream Land by traversing through seven different worlds. It sounds like an average platformer, but Nintendo unleashed a big twist to the formula. Kirby could swallow virtually any enemy grunt of any variety and steal their powers. To say this adds to the gameplay formula is a major understatement. Players can find dozens of different ways to slay their foes using various enemy abilities and even mixing and matching certain powers. Opportunities to do so are plentiful, as Kirby can enter a level’s museum and suck up an enemy and also swallow enemies during certain boss battles.
Mini-games provide a decent distraction from the main game. Games vary from a variation of the crane game to a western-style duel to arena-style combat against some of the game’s mini-bosses. They can only be played once, but they add enough variety to make the game more fun. Mini-bosses and bosses add to the fun factor even more. Kirby’s rogues gallery is well-represented and many classic foes are introduced for the first time, like Whispy Woods and Meta Knight (who will make his Super Smash Bros. debut later this year). Players who beat the game would be given a treat in the form of some extra replay value. Finding secret switches and finishing the game with a 100% rating would unlock Extra Mode, which upped the difficulty by halving Kirby’s health and eliminating save points.
The graphics were unimpressive during this game’s initial release, mostly because they were being compared to the 16-bit offerings of the same time period. With almost 15 years having passed, Kirby’s Adventure can be measured a little more fairly now. The graphics are simplistic, but ultimately comparable to such titles as the Mega Man series. The sprites and visual effects of Kirby’s Adventure are serviceable, but they will ultimately impress no one. Kirby’s poses are still neat to watch, though. The soundtrack contains MIDI themes, but the tunes would follow Kirby throughout his adventures. The themes for Green Greenes and Fountain of Dreams, specifically, would find their way into the GameCube’s Super Smash Bros. Melee.
There are a number of gamers who missed out on Kirby’s first game, so this title is a huge treat. Kirby’s Adventure deserves more than a few glances, as the series as a whole is vastly underrated. And while this isn’t the best title in the series (Kirby’s Super Star would outdo the first title in spades), Kirby’s Adventure is easily worth 500 Wii Points. Experience what makes Kirby a marquee player. Pick this game up and get sucked into adventure.