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Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition (Wii) artwork

Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition (Wii) review

"While the classic content doesn’t benefit from the same attention to detail that Nintendo might once have lavished on it, however, there’s some new content that’s quite cool. When you first load up the game, you can check out a special mode that presents a timeline of the franchise. It lets you know what was happening in the world around the time that each title hit stores, and there’s also video of games in the series that weren’t included in this particular collection."

If you’re an old school gamer, Kirby’s Dream Collection is the sort of product that hardly seems like it should even need a review. Anyone who grew up playing Nintendo’s games was bound to run into a title featuring the pink puffball at one point or another, perhaps even several times. Many people remember such experiences quite fondly, and this new compilation celebrates the last 20 years of great Kirby memories by collecting several of the loveable mascot’s earliest adventures in one place.

Kirby’s Dream Collection features six essential games: Kirby’s Dream Land (Game Boy), Kirby’s Adventure (NES), Kirby’s Dream Land 2 (Game Boy), Kirby Super Star (SNES), Kirby’s Dream Land 3 (SNES) and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (Nintendo 64). It comes in a pink cardboard box that also holds a “celebration book,” plus there’s a CD soundtrack in the otherwise standard white Wii game case that conveniently houses the game disc.

At the time of its release, Kirby’s Dream Collection carries an MSRP of $39.99. If you’re a long-time gamer, you might still recall a time when Super Mario All-Stars released on the Super Nintendo. That title cost $60 to $65 and included only four games. However, one of those selections had never been released in the United States, and all of the content was graphically improved so that the games felt almost new. The face lift brought four NES classics up to SNES standards and the SKU represented a sensational bargain, especially if you were a late hardware adopter and received the software as a pack-in item, or if you waited even longer and snagged the version that also included Super Mario World.

Unfortunately, Kirby’s Dream Collection comes nowhere close to being the steal that Super Mario All-Stars once was, thanks to a few key differences. First, there’s the fact that you can conveniently purchase the included games separately for around the price that you’ll pay for this bundle. They’re available as Virtual Console releases on Wii and on the 3DS (depending on the title), and you’ll maybe come out ahead going that route (especially if some of the selections on the disc don’t interest you for some reason).

None of the titles in the compilation have been upgraded or tweaked in any major way, either. They offer a variety of control schemes, including support for the Classic Controller and the GameCube pad, and they look very nice on the television screen. The Game Boy titles look decent, appearing as squares at the center of the screen with decorative borders filling the remainder of the space. You’ll even still see a hint at the end of Kirby’s Dream Land telling you to press Up, A, and Select to play a more challenging version of the game (and there are other moments along those lines).

One noteworthy difference this time around is that your Wii saves your progress down to the last second of play. That makes sense, given that every one of the included games is likely just a Virtual Console edition pressed onto a disc. If you leave one of the games and return to it later, you’ll find yourself on the same screen that you were when you last played. That’s often helpful, since you might have to leave suddenly and now you no longer have to worry about replaying a stage that you were relieved to put behind you, but in other cases it can work against you. Perhaps you quit playing one of the races in Kirby Super Star out of frustration, for instance. You might prefer to boot up the game and arrive on its title screen, but if so you’re out of luck. Having a choice in the matter would have been nice.

While the classic content doesn’t benefit from the same attention to detail that Nintendo might once have lavished on it, however, there’s some new content that’s quite cool. When you first load up the game, you can check out a special mode that presents a timeline of the franchise. It lets you know what was happening in the world around the time that each title hit stores, and there’s also video of games in the series that weren’t included in this particular collection. If most of that content seems a bit brief and leaves you wanting more, the aforementioned celebration book does a great job of filling in gaps. It includes information about all 21 original titles produced thus far, and even reveals concept artwork from the original game designs.

The Challenge stages are another nice option, since they feature all-new stages to test your skills. However, Nintendo released Return to Dream Land only last year. That’s probably a better investment if you’re really looking for new content, plus you can always track down the excellent Kirby’s Epic Yarn. This compilation would have been more exciting if it included some of Kirby’s more unique offerings, stuff like Kirby’s Block Ball or even Kirby’s Air Ride for GameCube. Perhaps those are being saved for a future compilation?

At least the collection has the soundtrack disc, which doesn’t skimp on music. There are 45 total tracks, which is more than an hour of music taken from 16 of Kirby’s games. That’s quite the sampling, and there’s no question that the franchise has some of the peppiest themes around. If you’re into game music, the soundtrack definitely adds a lot of value to the bundle and you’ll probably want to put some of it on a playlist.

And then, obviously, there are the games themselves…

Kirby’s Dream Land started the series quite simply and can be completed in a half-hour or so (even on the first attempt, with no prior experience), but from there things quickly grew more complex and expansive. Kirby’s Adventure on NES added the ability to absorb enemy abilities--which became a standard feature from that point onward--and Kirby’s Dream Land II on Game Boy also added mounts to the mix to make things more interesting still. That particular innovation didn’t stick around for Kirby Super Star, which instead opted to include a variety of platforming stages. It also boasted some unique events such as a race with King DeeDee to collect the most fruit. Kirby’s first SNES outing showed how vibrant Dream Land can truly look when hardware permits it, and both Kirby’s Dream Land III and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards took things even further as Nintendo and HAL Laboratory proved that Kirby was destined to remain a big deal.

Thanks to some timeless design, Kirby’s Dream Collection is packed with fun and should make a welcome addition to any game collection. Even so, it has limited value if you don’t care about the new challenge stages or the soundtrack disc. Nintendo had the opportunity here to release another incredible compilation that today’s generation could have remembered as fondly as older folks remember Super Mario All-Stars, but instead the company settled on something a bit less varied and comprehensive than the $40 price tag suggests you’ll find. It’s still very good and of course you should pick it up if you’re a huge Kirby fan, but gamers with limited budgets are perhaps better off doing some Virtual Console shopping instead.


honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (September 16, 2012)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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pickhut posted September 16, 2012:

Ya know, back when I found out about this collection, I had a hunch you'd be the first to review it! I didn't read all of it, since I might do a review myself, but from what I read, it's a pretty solid piece with understandable issues about the package as a whole.
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honestgamer posted September 16, 2012:

Thanks for reading, pickhut (or at least, for reading part of the review). It's not the sort of approach I would typically take for a review, but in this case it felt right. I didn't feel the need to dissect the individual games, because most people who are most likely to appreciate the package already know about that anyway. I had most of a draft written that took a different approach and it didn't feel like it was answering the questions someone who would purchase this compilation might actually have, so I started fresh. I'm not sure there's anything particularly riveting here, but I do feel like it's a helpful piece if someone can suffer through it. And of course, I understand you not wanting to read all of my piece because it might influence whatever you wrote. I do the same thing.
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pickhut posted September 16, 2012:

Yeah, it's really hard resisting sometimes because you want to know what that person thinks of the game.

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