(GBA / Game Boy Advance)

Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land (GBA / Game Boy Advance)

Game Review

Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Martin Watts

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.


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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User Comments (26)



TomJ said:

Personally, I think the original Kirby's Adventure is better, just because.



ueI said:

I'm glad Nintendo is not afraid to put ports and remake on the Virtual Console. Some will prefer Adventure because it's the original, while others will prefer this for the better graphics. It really is the best solution. Even better would be a notice indicating that these are essentially the same game. I doubt such a thing exists, and I unfortunately expect a lot of disappointment from those who will buy both Adventure and Nightmare.



ekreig said:

Back in the day, I couldn't find these two GBA Kirby games in stores no matter where I looked. I wonder if they were rare.



Rargh said:

Found this one a bit disappointing back in the day- nowhere near as good as the nes original (and the 3DS classics version is even better than that) not a terrible game by any means, just an underwhelming remake for me...



Iggly said:

I remember really wanting this game when I was a kid, but it was sold out everywhere. I'm not sure if I should buy this since I already got the 3D Classics version of Kirby's adventure, quite a hard decision.



allav866 said:

I haven't played this one in a while, but I remember not being as fond of it as I was of the original. Then 3D Classics came out, and I loved it even more. I say this often, but Kirby's Adventure is my favorite game of all time, so I'll still pick this up. I play Kirby's Adventure at least once each year, so playing the GBA remake will be nice for switching it up.



KevTastic84 said:

I loved (Still do) the original NES version. This may be tempting just to be able to play it again without the slow down the original has when there is a lot going on on screen. Something that never bothered me as a kid, but now playing it on WIi virtual console it does.



Blue_Yoshi said:

Aw man so many childhood memories. I was kinda disappointed that you guys gave it a 7 but I understand that it is dated compared to today's games.



Naoiko said:

Still wish the advance games were coming to both eshops. Don't have a Wii U yet so I'll just have to wait I guess.



SparkOfSpirit said:

I've never liked the way the pre-Superstar games handled powers. Once you get multiple attacks and are allowed to take more than one hit before losing your power it's kind of hard to go back.



FishClip said:

My first Kirby game! Glad it's back here on the eshop. It's definitely one of the better traditional Kirby plat formers, but that's mostly because it's a remake.



Knux said:

I've played the original version to death, so I definitely will look into buying the cartridge version of this remake down the road.



Pichuka97 said:

This is probably my favorite Kirby game tied with Adventure. Though I have yet to play RTDL and TD.



umegames said:

@Pichuka97 i agree, with superstar being a very close 2nd. despite having the nes on wii-u, if this came to U.S. i would happily buy and play.



Henmii said:

Downloaded it recently. Its a very nice looking Kirby's adventure remake. A pity that they changed the cool mini-games and that they removed the cool scrolling bits from Butter building, though.



StarDust4Ever said:

I remember picking up Kirby's Nightmare in Dreamland in 2004 and being disappointed in it's being a remake of the NES classic, which I had just played for the first time in 2003. All my favorite minigames from the NES original were replaced with lame multiplayer games with cheap AI. Where's mah toy crane? IMO there's not much reason to buy this port if you've already downloaded the NES classic Kirby's Adventure. Get Kirby's Adventure for NES and Kirby's Amazing Mirror for GBA instead...



BulbasaurusRex said:

Personally, I think the best Kirby games are the ones that stick to the basics like the first Dream Land, Adventure, Super Star, Return to Dreamland, etc. They experiment too much with the Kirby series, and most of the experiments aren't very appealing to me.



SheldonRandoms said:

I remember getting this game back then, and beat it in a single day. I just put it in my GBA, and next thing I knew it, I revved up the entire game!



LindsayPez said:

Aww, I didn't know this game existed! I wish I did back when I played GBA - I would have loved it. Kirby's Adventure was the very first game I ever beat and I still love it to this day. There's something very charming about it. I'll buy this one just to support it. I already have Kirby's Adventure on the Wii virtual console and the 3D one on my 3DS, but I love it that much! It's easy but it's fun.



LindsayPez said:

Aww, I didn't know this game existed! I wish I did back when I played GBA - I would have loved it. Kirby's Adventure was the very first game I ever beat and I still love it to this day. There's something very charming about it. I'll buy this one just to support it. I already have Kirby's Adventure on the Wii virtual console and the 3D one on my 3DS, but I love it that much! It's easy but it's fun.



S3OL said:

I think that I prefer the GBA remake a little more due to the fact that the controls are tighter but apart from that, the NES original has a unique charm to it that I absolutely love.

So if it weren't for the slight lag in movement and execution of attacks, Kirby's Adventure would be my preferred version hands down.

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