Total time played: 3 hours
Short review: A very easy platformer featuring the NES debut of one of Nintendo’s most popular characters. A variety of inventive gameplay mechanics make this a must play.
Interesting links related to Kirby’s Adventure
- Video Review (RetroLiberty)
- Video Review (CGRundertow)
- Speed run by ControllerHead (46min46sec)
I never played Kirby when I was a kid, it looked too much like a kid’s game. I ended up buying it at a flea market sometime after college and sat down to play. I ended up playing for about 90 minutes before I got stuck and could not figure out how to get past one of the World 6 stages. I didn’t play the game again until now.
I am not sure where I got stuck playing the first time because there is nothing in this game that is even slightly difficult. In fact, the easy difficulty is one of only three complaints I have about this entire game.
- Too Easy. I never felt stuck or challanged.
- The color palette seems bland and washed out. The bottom third of the screen is all different shades of the same color.
- Even though the game is hugely innovative it felt repetitive.
Kirby is a very plain looking character, he is just a pink sphere. In fact, he looks very similar to a character from another Hal Laboratory game, Lolo from Adventures of Lolo, who is just a blue sphere. In fact, when you beat Lolo you rescue your girlfriend, Lala, who is just a pink sphere. Is it possible that Lolo and Kirby date? No, I don’t think so, even though both Lolo’s girlfriend, Lala, and Kirby are both pink spheres they don’t look much alike. Hal make some games with pretty innovative gameplay, but they don’t waste much time on character development.
Lolo and girlfriend Lala Kirby
Kirby has a huge arsenal of weapons at his disposal that he obtains by sucking enemies into his mouth and gaining their power. There are so many different powers in the game: sword, fire, freeze, laser (which ricochet off walls), stone, high jump, tornado, wheel, ball, hammer, throw and more. I know I am forgetting some and there are probably others I never got. In fact, I can’t think of a single game on the NES that offer such a wide variety of weapons, not Mega Man, not Super Mario 3, not even an RPG like Final Fantasy.
Kirby features 8 worlds to travel through and each has 6 levels (except world 8 which is just two boss fights), each with mini-bosses and then a boss fight after beating all 6 levels of each world. Each level has multiple paths to take that may lead to power-ups or secrets that open up bonus stages on the world map. Each of the bonus games is unique and fun. My two favorites are the one where Kirby eats eggs and dodges bombs and the other is a wild west shoot out.
Several stages feature Kirby walking from left to right around a 3D tower, it is a very neat effect, one that I can only recall seeing in two other NES games: Battletoads and Castelian
Kirby can also suck air into his mouth and fly. This is one of the reasons the game is so easy. Imagine always having the P-Wing or the Raccoon suit in Super Mario 3, that is what it is like playing Kirby. Many of the stages can just be flown over. You may miss some power ups but you will still unlock the next level.
I have to mention the save feature on Kirby’s Adventure. Early NES games required lengthy passwords if you wanted to pick up where you left off later. Eventually games started coming with a battery backup. For me, The Legend of Zelda is the first game I remember playing with a battery backup. When you turned the game off you had to wait until you got a game over and then hold the reset button and then turn off the power. Every time I would come back to the game I was afraid my game save would be lost, and sometimes it was. In Kirby’s Adventure I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the game features an auto save feature and you don’t need to hold down reset when turning off the system (the back of the game says you have to, but I didn’t, and my game saved). I’m not quite sure how it works but I never had any issues with my game save being lost. This is the earliest game I can think of that has an auto save feature.
I definitely made a mistake by not playing through Kirby’s Adventure until 2015. I should have known better than to judge a book by its cover. Kirby plays a lot like Super Mario Bros. 3 but it is more innovative in its level design and gameplay mechanics. But, Super Mario 3 is far superior in character and enemy design, game sprites, color palette and replayability. Kirby suffers from being too easy, having a bland color palette and feeling repetitive but is somehow still one of the best platformers on the NES.