Review: Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land (Wii U eShop / GBA)

Full of promise, or just hot air?

Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land is in fact a remake of Kirby's Adventure, Kirby's first outing on the NES from 1993. While it isn't his original adventure (that honour goes to Kirby's Dream Land), it is the first instance in which he was able to use his now classic copy ability. The remake — which originally released on Game Boy Advance in 2003 — keeps the majority of the gameplay intact while adding vastly improved visuals over the top of it.

The Kirby series hasn't evolved drastically over the past 20 years, which makes sense that it was originally — and some would argue, still is — designed with novices in mind. Nevertheless, Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land feels a tad too simplistic by today's standards — especially if you've played Kirby's Triple Deluxe, which is stuffed full of creative puzzle-solving elements. There are still plenty of moments where it shines — such as the boss battles — but otherwise it may feel a bit mindless to experienced players. Of course, if you're new to games, not very skilled at them or simply looking for something to relax with, then Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land will most likely do an exceptional job of meeting your modest needs.

To the game's credit, the only area where Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land truly feels dated is in the level design. Despite the colourful backdrops and wide variety of enemies, stages are painfully straightforward, requiring very little effort when it comes to exploration or working out what you need to do next. It's simply a case of making your way to the exit and occasionally fighting a boss along the way.

Kirby encounters a number of enemies throughout each stage, some of which can be swallowed in order to steal their powers. These primarily serve as a new way to attack enemies, although they also come in handy occasionally for navigating the stages. Kirby has a wide range of powers he can absorb from foes, and part of the fun lies in learning how many there are and how they work. In particular, there's a lot of fun to be had with the laser power-up, which shoots beams that can bounce off walls and floors. Kirby's repertoire this time around isn't as extensive as it is in later games, but there's nevertheless a good amount on offer.

Boss battles are another area where there's plenty of variety. The enemies you come up against aren't especially complex in nature, but often require you to memorise attack patterns in order to conquer them. Again, Kirby can call upon a copied ability (provided he has one equipped) to dish out the damage on or suck in and spit out projectiles that the boss drops. They're surprisingly challenging at times, and what keeps things interesting is that you can rarely approach two bosses in the same way.

Outside of the stages and boss fights are mini-game challenges which are in fact specific to the remake version. These provide you with the chance to accrue extra lives and abilities. As you would expect, they're not in-depth experiences by any stretch of imagination, and in most instances test your reaction speed. You're able to play these mini-games outside of the main game, although without the promise of extra bonuses there really isn't anything to make you want to do this.

One of the major improvements that Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land offered over the NES original was the addition of cooperative multiplayer. This is missing from the Wii U version, although given that the game was never designed specifically with multiplayer in mind, this isn't a huge loss.

Thankfully, the transition to Wii U doesn't have too much of a negative impact on the visuals. Vibrant and colourful 2D sprites and artwork give the game the visual quality akin to the best-looking SNES games, and it looks great with or without the Wii U's screen smoothing feature enabled.

Conclusion

Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land is a worthy remake of the pink puffball's first home console adventure. While what it offers is a tad basic compared to what more modern Kirby games offer, it's still very playable, and there are little creative moments where game occasionally shines. It's a charming experience — mainly because of its delightful and colourful visuals — and one which will be most appreciated by those looking for an easier gameplay challenge.

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