(Game Boy)

Game Review

Kirby's Dream Land 2 Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Mike Mason

Dreamy

Dream Land's peaceful moniker is surely false advertising. There are constant problems with invasions and takeovers, the bad guys are apparently impossible to evict, based on how often they show up and the fact that some buffoon keeps dumping huge piles of those star blocks in everybody's way. It's an absolute nightmare.

You wouldn't get that impression from Kirby's chubby chops, though. He's as cheerful as ever in Kirby's Dream Land 2, a 1995 Game Boy platformer that could be considered among the series' best. Coming towards the end of the handheld's life it's also a bit of a showcase: it boasts big, clear visuals with superb animation that makes you just want to squeeze the little hoover bag, plus great renditions of many of the franchise's musical favourites.

Our obliviously positive protagonist trots around doing what he does best: by inhaling enemies, items and obstructive scenery alike and spitting them about as powerful stars, he can overcome most hazards. As ever, taking certain foes into his elastic innards and hitting Down steals their special powers, allowing Kirby to change into a raging fireball, shoot electricity or become a slightly-less-exciting rock. With a few taps of Up he can also inflate like a balloon to float around the levels, which often switch between scrolling horizontally and vertically.

Each of the seven worlds — the usual array of series staple environments such as grasslands, volcanoes and ocean make their all-too-predictable appearances — includes three to six stages plus a boss fight against a familiar irritant such as Kracko or Mr Frosty. Many stages also feature mini-bosses; small or not, bosses are generally destroyed by snatching up any projectiles they might hurl to throw back in their faces.

There are often multiple ways to reach your goal, whether it's a concrete second route or simply room to puff up to maximum size and glide over danger rather than stick to the platforms exclusively, so despite the rigid structure there's some freedom to experiment. Once you do step through the sparkly gate at each level's conclusion you're met in typically cute fashion by a trampoline bonus mini-game. Kirby hops down onto a cloud, and if you get the timing of a button press just right you can launch him through several layers of fog to collect goodies, such as extra lives and health-refilling treats. It's a great way to both close off and reward the end of a chapter without handing you something on a plate.

A smaller array of powers are yours to 'borrow' in Kirby's Dream Land 2, but that's balanced by some new additions. Possibly jealous of Donkey Kong's exploitation of his fellow beasts, Kirby switches on his own bit of animal magnetism this time around to employ the talents of a few furry, fishy and feathery friends. Kirby can hitch a ride on Rick the Hamster's back, give those stretchy cheeks a rest by letting Coo the Owl fly him about or, somewhat disturbingly, actually get inside Kine the Ocean Sunfish, leaving only his face protruding from between his fishy lips.

These animal pals are found in squirming sacks, usually guarded by mini-bosses or in off-path rooms, and their advantages are threefold. They add an extra health barrier by taking a hit for you. The number of special abilities that Kirby can steal seems paltry compared to other titles, but each pet can use the powers in their own unique ways: the owl can spray fire from above, while the hamster turns its mouth into a flamethrower, for example. This essentially quadruples the number of possibilities in a way that is more interesting than simply piling more power ups in. Finally they bring their own skills: the hamster can run faster, the owl can fly against gusts of wind, the fish can swim against water currents – though, as you'd expect, it's a bit useless on land.

Kirby's Dream Land 2 continues the series' tradition of being ludicrously easy. A couple of sections excepted, it's a simple — almost relaxing – meander through a stream of well-designed levels, offering straightforward fun over challenge. The difficulty does increase significantly from world five onwards as the end game approaches, but even then it's far from tough, partially because the spike is compensated for by a skyward soar of collectable lives.

There are a few bottomless pits to watch out for, but with Kirby's floatation abilities they don't pose too much of a problem; it's almost impossible to get frustrated with this game. The only times you might possibly approach annoyance is during the levels that automatically scroll along, forcing you to stay on the move. If you touch the edge of the screen, or Kirby is unceremoniously crushed between it and a wall, there goes a life.

It takes about three and a half hours for a basic first time run, though to complete it properly you have to find a Rainbow Drop on each of the seven islands to unlock the final boss. This ensures a bit of extra play time, as to recover them all you have to collect the appropriate powers and return to earlier worlds; thankfully you can warp to other worlds at your will whenever you're on the stage hub screen.

Conclusion

Kirby's Dream Land 2 is great, simple fun and one of the better traditionally-styled Kirby titles. The technical mastery of Game Boy really shines through even now, with great presentation and a fairly big world to conquer. Even though its low level of challenge makes it seem smaller than it actually is, its length and numerous power-ups to experiment with makes it ideal for repeat playthroughs. For £3.60, this is a great opportunity to grab a classic that still plays like a dream.

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User Comments (37)

Mercury9

#2

Mercury9 said:

Anything Kirby old or new and I'm all in. My favourite series of platformers :)

Luffymcduck

#3

Luffymcduck said:

I had most problems with the two last bosses, but it´s mostly very easy, but still fun. I have found only one rainbow drop, so there´s still more Kirby goodness left.

steamhare

#4

steamhare said:

I really loved this game, but number this as one of the few I managed to lose in my younger years. Although I'd beaten the main storyline, I had yet to collect the rainbow drops. When (If?) this comes to US vc, it's an instadownload and play-through to right my foolish err.

GeminiSaint

#6

GeminiSaint said:

This game is not truly over until you've found all the Rainbow Drops. Only then you can fight the true final boss and watch the real ending.

CosmoXY

#7

CosmoXY said:

I'll add this to the list of VC games I'll be getting when they come to NA.

Fuzzy

#9

Fuzzy said:

Whenever I think of Kirby, this is the game that comes to mind. Great fun.

warioswoods

#10

warioswoods said:

Aw man, I disagree very strongly with the notion that this game was better than its predecessor.

I played both at their respective launches, and I remember how wonderful the first game was: perfect level design, charm throughout, and that kind of focused creativity that feels no need to pad length or reuse any idea twice. Its length was perfect for what it offered, and it's pretty much the only Kirby game to feature a "hard mode" anywhere near that hard, particularly if you take the challenge of setting down your total lives on the config screen.

Dream Land 2? It was bigger, sure, and had some neat things to play with. But for me, it was the first Kirby game to have that kind of random-seeming level design, where no particular screen feels important along the way. It focuses more on the abilities which weren't present in the first, which is fine, but the level design suffers as a result. Definitely a fun game, but I was disappointed after the newness wore off, and never replayed this one like I did the original (about a billion times).

Azikira

#11

Azikira said:

I love how three of the first four people to comment on this review all had kirby icons! XD
But I digress, the Kirby series is a blast :3

WaveWarlock

#12

WaveWarlock said:

@WarioWoods
I have a feeling i'm going to feel exactly the same way as you once this is released in the NA and i get my groovy mega mits on it. I agree with everything you said about the original, but they really should of enabled 'hard' mode from the start, because as is it's just too easy but still fun and incredibly memorable nonetheless. Short, yet highly polished and extremely well done from start to finish.

On another note, i still haven't exactly played my copy of Return to dreamland. Did you get around to playing that one Wariowoods and what did you do think of it? B-) I wasn't too crazy on those Super Ultra Kirby Power ups that were unleashed across the screen, they just weren't that fun to use imo. Game looks gorgeous though, i really need to dive into it!

chewytapeworm

#16

chewytapeworm said:

Well, this review and the comments that have followed it have convinced me. I'm-a pick this one up tomorrow afternoon!

@Waveboy Kirby's Return to Dreamland was decent, and real cracking fun when you've got three other mates to play with. It's well worth diving into if you find the time, co-op or solo, but it's not the cute pink ball's finest hour. Just don't let those super power up thingies spoil your enjoyment of the game, admittedly they're the least fun part of it all, but there's plenty other colourful, manic Kirby platforming to sink your teeth into!

warioswoods

#17

warioswoods said:

@WaveBoy

I haven't picked up Return to Dreamland yet (I just have too many things I havent finished) but will do so soon enough. It looks like a lot of fun for multiplayer.

Sam_Loser2

#18

Sam_Loser2 said:

Huh, I just bought the original cart for $20, I still have time to take it back and get this for $4, (whenever it comes over here) but this is black and white whereas the cart is full color. Should I bother or enjoy my original cart?

ueI

#19

ueI said:

@WaveBoy Hard mode in the first game IS enabled from the start. The game just keeps it a secret. :(

@LztheBlehBird Kirby's Adventure hard mode is not REALLY harder. Kirby just has less health.

@All Return to Dreamland is one of my favorite Kirby games, but I unfortunately can't guarantee that those who haven't played it will like it. I'll have to pick up Dream Land 2 when NOA brings it to virtual console. Then I'll have all the classic Kirby platformers!

AVahne

#20

AVahne said:

Please bring this to VC this week NoA! I used to love this game as a kid.

Knux

#21

Knux said:

One of the best platformers in existence (along with Return to Dream Land). I can't wait to play this masterpiece again! :D

mamp

#22

mamp said:

I want this game, personally I like dreamland 3 better but this one's good too. Kirby needs to bring these guys back in new games.

MeloMan

#23

MeloMan said:

The first Kirby I played front to back and was thoroughly impressed by it at the time. KSS took the title of fav Kirby once that came along :)

Henmii

#25

Henmii said:

Nice review and nice score! I will download it when I have a new e-shop card!

Yadoking

#26

Yadoking said:

I seriously love this game immensely. Just thought I'd share that with you, internet.

3DSLUIGI

#28

3DSLUIGI said:

I remember how I spent hours on this game trying to find all the Rainbow Drops when I had this game as a kid. It was one of the highlight GAME BOY games for me also, next to Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins and Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3. I just hope NOA decides to release this game very soon than turn out to be trolls again soon.

TheDreamingHawk

#30

TheDreamingHawk said:

@3DSLUIGI They are not trolls.

I swore that I read that there was 100 rainbow drops in the game. Must have mixed it up with Kirby 64. For those of you in Europe, should I pick this up when it comes here? The first game was boring when I beat hard mode, but if this has stuff like boss battles mode, I may get it.

Thomcan

#31

Thomcan said:

As with most of my love for Nintendo, it's steeped in nostalgia. What a great game. I miss it. I can almost hear the fish song in my head right now.

OnionOverlord

#33

OnionOverlord said:

I still own this game and sometimes play it in the Super Gameboy, but I can't help but find it odd that this appears to be the Gameboy version and not the Gameboy Color version. Wasn't this game also released in color?

CrimsonMoonMist

#35

CrimsonMoonMist said:

This, Super Star and 64 are competing for the title of my favorite Kirby game.
Super star is up there because I enjoyed that abilities now had movesets,
This I enjoyed for how each helper have different abilities
64 did something similar with the feature of outright mixing together abilities.
I'm leaning towards this game though.

sc100

#36

sc100 said:

Fun game. Kind of a mix between Kirby's Dream Land and Kirby's Adventure with some new elements thrown in. It's a shame us in NA had to wait so long for it.

alvieao

#37

alvieao said:

It’s nice to finally have the sequel on the North American 3DS eShop! Once again, Kirby’s back and this time he has new friends to aid on his quest. It’s also the first of the Dark Matter trilogy, followed by Kirby’s Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. These Kirby titles took a puzzle approach over combat; this is due to Shinichi Shimomora taking over the helm from series creator Masahiro Sakurai. Like Kirby’s Adventure, he can copy powers by swallowing enemies but there aren’t too many of them here.

In addition, the animal buddies Rick the Hamster, Coo the Owl, and Kine the Ocean Sunfish are useful in different ways. While there’s an incentive for 100% completion, it’s the hardest to obtain for this Kirby game (at least because Kirby must rescue a certain something after defeating a mini-boss). It’s obvious the Super Game Boy features are omitted for this VC re-release, but the game still looks great and is well animated. Kirby’s Dream Land 2 is a Game Boy classic worth checking out on 3DS Virtual Console. Sweet Dreams indeed!

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