"“Kirby! Your arch-enemy King Dedede has been possessed! You must save him!” "
“Kirby! Your arch-enemy King Dedede has been possessed! You must save him!”
This fatuous premise kick-starts Kirby’s Dream Land 2, one of the better GameBoy games in circulation. Poor old Kirby. Just after defeating the aforementioned King, and releasing the Rainbow Islands from their precarious state, he has to go out and do it all over again! Those helpless islands are under threat from an even greater source of evil! The tenebrous Dark Matter! This shady character, upon hearing the tales of Kirby’s legendary suction wanted a first hand experience. Now as the player you must take control of the cuddly pink hero, and bite down hard to sever the source of Dark Matter’s power.
There is no doubt that the success of the Kirby franchise rests solely on the abilities of its protagonist. Rarely has a more versatile character been seen! When one stands this little bundle of fairy floss with eyes next to virtually any other lead, he’s going to seem a tad underwhelming. Appearances can be deceiving! The things this little sack of wind can do are amazing! Suck in the air, use it to fly around, spit it out with lethal force, suck in enemies, spit them out, swallow them, steal their powers, use their powers; he’s like a one man fighting regiment. It’s Kirby’s multi-pronged approach to offense and his all-round versatility that make this game a winner.
But even though you’ve got this dynamo fighting on your side, it’s still going to be a heck of a battle. There are seven islands for you to take care of, each one littered with bad dudes and obstacles just itching to take Kirby down. Housing names such as “Grass Land”, “Iceberg”, and “Cloudy Park”; each island will challenge you with its differently themed backgrounds, adding to the peril. Kirby may be a cool dude, but he can’t help but slip around on ice, struggle in vain against strong winds and swim like a mentally challenged Pufferfish.
But wait! Don’t throw up your arms in despair and consign Kirby to the could-have-been-a-hero pile! He may not have all the skills, but he’s got the connections! Three helpful friends have been scattered across the treacherous landscapes, a fish, a mouse and an owl. These considerate creatures will offer their services to Kirby unconditionally, using their animalistic talents to guide him to the formidable realm of the DARK CASTLE. Not only will they bring their own talents to the party, these animals will also magnify whatever special talent Kirby is already harbouring!
“Special talents?” you say?
I’ll tell you anyway!
You see, there are a large number of enemies patrolling the islands. Kirby can inhale most of them and swallow them entirely, reverting miraculously back to his original size. But some of these enemies have dangerous attacks of their own, and Kirby can assimilate these simply by swallowing the relevant foe. So not only can he piss about with wimpy air attacks, he can also protrude giant spikes, thrust forward in the form of a giant fireball, and freeze any enemy that gets too close. These attacks open up all kinds of new possibilities and can often provide access to new areas in a level!
Make your way through to the end of a world, and you’ll no doubt get yourself a boss fight. Some of them are interesting, pushing Kirby’s talents to the limit. Some of them leave you a little dumber for having just experienced them, but generally they add to the game in a big way. And, once defeated, you can constantly return to the ex-boss’ room and compete in mini-games for extra lives. The perfect recipe for the player who finds himself being slaughtered left or right by a cute little elf on an apple.
However Kirby’s Dream Land 2 isn’t all about twee action and smiling and candy and puppy dogs. This is a cruel, ruthless game that plays endlessly with the emotions. Progressing through the levels is a joy, there’s no doubt about that. But just when you think you’ve reached the end and you’ll get a nice fulfilling ending, all you get is cryptic comments and a patronising closing sequence! You go to all of the trouble of finishing the game off, saving the islands and deposing King Dedede, and they have to go and put a stupid question mark after “THE END”!
No player, your journey isn’t finished! You’re going to have to go back and explore every level you’ve been through, probe every inch of every room to find the seven rainbow drops that you require! Without them you’ll never get a chance to face off against the might and fury of Dark Matter, and without them you’ll never finish the game completely. Sure it’s good for the sake of the games lifespan, but games shouldn’t toy with the player’s emotions like that. Especially when a player has spent hours trying to defeat the “last boss”, has filled himself up with ego and has the ability to hurl the GameBoy upwards of twenty meters.
Yes, I digressed. But my GameBoy doesn’t have a screen any more, and it’s because of this game. The screen is gone, but I can still tell that the graphics of this game turned out pretty well. Working within the limitations of the GameBoy, visuals have been created that prove to be clear, effective and uncomplicated. There is little screen clutter, making it easier to navigate Kirby around the screen safely. The audio components measure up as well. There are an adequate number of audio tracks, ensuring that it’ll be a long time before they begin to grate large slices off your eardrums. The sound effects are also effective enough, suiting the action nicely. All in all these design elements complement the action, taking up the “simple yet effective” mantra that seems to have served this game so well.
It is relatively simple. All one needs to do is get Kirby to the end of the level and take care of any enemies that get in his way. It’s the use of classic tactics; things like environmental conditions, special helpers, moving screens and hard-to-access areas that keep the action pumping along. It’s not the most original of games, but neither is it overly derivative. What it really boils down to is that Kirby is simply a great character; one that often has the ability to carry a game through on his own merits. He himself proves the difference between a success and the failure, and in this case he’s done his job superbly.
Community review by kingbroccoli (July 09, 2004)
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