It takes about 20 minutes to skip through Kirby Dream Land’s four environments and defeat its five bosses. At no point through that time will you feel challenged and your reward for those 20 minutes? A slightly more difficult remix of the game.
This is a waste of time, frankly. It’s impossible to become involved in a game that flies past so rapidly. Though there’s a great variety in the enemies Kirby faces, they’re all “blink and you’ll miss it,” experiences. Though the environments themselves are interesting, there’s no time to step back and enjoy the experience – you’re shuffled on to the next level too quickly.
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And to make matters worse, the game’s length is artificially extended. After completing each of the four levels, you need to go back to those environments for a brief platforming section, and then beat the exact same boss of each environment again. It’s bad enough that the bosses were boring the first time around – asking players to defeat them again is a slap on the face.
After you’ve knocked off those four bosses, it’s time for King Dedede. He’s a cakewalk too, and then the credits roll. It’s not so much that I have a problem with the ease of the game, that comes with the Kirby franchise and modern Kirby games like Epic Yarn still manage to provide plenty to explore, unearth and experience within that easy context. Dream Land’s problem is it has no real secrets, there’s nothing to collect and there’s no real incentives to play well.
It’s a pity that this is such a pointless game, because in terms of presentation, Dream Land is lovely. The environments are bright and cheery, and you just know that if this was on a colour console, your eyes would be taking in a rainbow of bright colours. The music is twee and happy, and the enemies bounce around with great fluidity. The game has a great energy to it, and certainly plays a lot faster than some of the other Game Boy platformers.
Kirby has his usual “suck” ability, though he can’t take on the abilities of his enemies in this game – all he can do is spit them out as a projectile weapon. Kirby can also still float into the sky, but that’s the extent of his abilities. There’s a handful of powerups than give him additional abilities, but they’re not really necessary for getting through the game, so they feel like an arbitrary inclusion. Still, Kirby is a joy to navigate through the levels.
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It’s just that even the really young ones will struggle to get much meat off this bone. As bright and cheerful as the game is, you will struggle to appreciate its 20 minute-long, linear experience. Games like Epic Yarn have spoiled us with the potential for Kirby – easy games yes, but also involving games. Unless you’re a Kirby diehard, or feeling especially nostalgic, this game won’t do anything for you.