The Kirby series has been a staple of Nintendo game systems since the pink fluff first appeared on the original Game Boy back in 1992. While the games have always been known more for their charm and unique gameplay than their difficulty, they've become some of the best selling video games in history. Now Nintendo has released Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition, a compilation of six of the most popular Kirby games along with a set of collectibles, to celebrate 20 years of a fun franchise that's still going strong today.
For the most part all each game plays very similarly and will be instantly familiar to fans of the series. The two original Game Boy releases — Kirby's Dream Land and Kirby's Dream Land 2 — and Kirby's Adventure for NES offer the familiar inhaling enemies and items. Then as the games progress across the various Nintendo systems, through SNES's Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby Super Star, the depth and presentations become more intricate and varied, especially for Kirby's first 3D outing, Nintendo 64's Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. The emulation is top notch and even the scaled up Game Boy and NES releases still look quite good and play just as they always did. The collection gives you the option of using the Wii Remote on its side, the Classic Controller or even the Gamecube controller, so there's plenty of choice depending on your preference.
Selecting the games is a breeze with the simple menus, but quitting them can be a bit of a pain as you have to press the Home button and click Reset to go back to the main game menu. It's equally quick and easy to peruse the Kirby museum gallery, which details the history of the games as well as tossing out interesting tidbits of actual real life historical data to go along with it.
Since this is a collector's edition, you get a few little goodies outside of the game itself too: namely a beautiful little full colour history book on the games and a 45 track soundtrack CD spanning the entire series. Although the book is a little flimsy, it contains a heaping amount of unique fun facts about the games and how they were created, while the music CD is chock full of amazing Kirby tunes complete with a few interesting remixes.
For all of the bonus materials and extras inside the package, the best would have to be the new Challenge Stages. Not only do you get some gorgeous modern visuals, but the gameplay and challenge is exceptional. You start with one ability and have to use said ability to work your way through the level, defeating enemies and collecting coins for points. Most of the platforming and enemies in these levels revolve heavily around the specific ability given. But what makes these challenges so much fun is the time limit imposed on you and how you're graded on your performance upon completing the level. Not only is it a blast to complete the levels initially, there's plenty of incentive to go back and try to pick up items and defeat enemies you may have missed the first time around.
The visual quality varies quite a bit between games given that the they span a whopping 20 years worth of game systems, but there's plenty of artwork and flashy visual touches to keep things interesting, not to mention some beautiful visuals on the Challenge Levels. The same can pretty much be said of the musical presentation, but even the original Game Boy titles still feature some of the best musical tracks of the entire series and sound as great as ever on this compilation.
There will inevitably be Kirby fans who will complain that more Kirby games weren't included or that none of the titles got any type of visual makeover, but it's difficult to complain too much given how many amazing Kirby titles have been collected onto one Wii disc, not to mention the fun bonus items and mini games that are also included. No doubt most Nintendo fans will have already played these games many times over, but it's still nice to see Nintendo giving their fluffy protagonist a little fanfare for 20 years of charming gaming magic.