"Kirby's land might be on easy street, but it plays like a dream."
Back in my day, we didn’t have many hand holding video games. You put the game into the system, picked up the controller and rode the waves of frustration, balls to the wall difficulty and a battle hardened mentality. While some games didn’t push you over the edge (Super Mario Bros. 2), there were plenty of others that not only pushed you beyond your limits (Astyanax) but have a reserved placement as the 56th layer of hell (Battletoads). Yeah, those were the good ol’ days, and truthfully, that’s the way many games liked it. That’s not to say that all old school games held a difficulty of legendary proportions. There were a few games that were so easy, that you could almost defeat the entire game without getting touched more than four times. No, we’re not talking Sesame Street Countdown here; this is a game that might be disgustingly easy, but holds an infinite amount of charm, style and class.
Kirby’s Dream Land on the Nintendo Game Boy can be best described as the beginners video game, as the amount of trial and error is dwindled down to elementary enemy evasion, with the infrequent spikes and pitfall dodging. It’s not an over-exaggeration either — you really can get through most of the game without getting hit more than a few times, and perhaps losing one life. While King Dedede is the only sufficient challenge, this doesn’t mean that the experience as a whole is reduced to mediocrity.
Kirby him/her/its self is a unique little bugger, with a simplistic design, but a hungering power. Kirby can inhale enemies, projectiles and other odds and ends, and take them out of play. Not only that, but you can even suck in a gust of air and give Kirby the ability to fly temporarily. While the extent of Kirby’s powers would not yet be fully realized until future releases, the charm, ease of play-style and unique take on the 2D platformer genre gives Kirby’s titles a fresh take to a tired run.
The whimsical visuals overall help add to that charm, though one can argue it can also reinforce the fact that this game was made with younger players in mind. That could be true, but the ease of access, visual style and gameplay as a whole makes Kirby’s Dream Land approachable for every game, regardless of what genre they prefer, how old they are or if they are a male of female. Animation is fluid enough, and there’s enough diversity from stage to stage to keep things fresh. Truly one of the best looking Game Boy games ever. Moving the little marshmallow puff around is effortless. Whether its ground based movements, floating, jumping or anything in-between, you encounter no real setbacks in how you command Kirby around.
As pleasant as Kirby’s Dream Land is for your eyes, the auditory pleasure is just as intense. The music cannot be complimented enough, as each stage provides an equally whimsical medley that’s not only catchy, but quite memorable. The first stage in particular, which is always the best time to have a hooking tune to it, has just that. The rest of the effects are well done, with nothing outstanding, but everything has a fitting tone, with nothing standing out in a negative manner. As with the visuals, the audio is one of the best overall packages on the Game Boy, and stands the test of time as well.
The only real negative impact is the difficulty. While it’s a commendable effort to put out a game that’s not as daunting of a task to defeat as most other NES and Game Boy games were, the end result is a game that does nothing to challenge your skills. This is what makes Kirby’s Dream Land such an enigma — it might be one of the easiest video games in existence, as well as one of the shorter platformer titles in existence, yet the charm, charisma, incentives and overall satisfaction provided outweigh what could be thought of as severe handicaps. Sure, it’s easily beatable, but the core gameplay is so well done, that you’ll want to come back time and time again. You might not come back immediately after the fact, but it’s the kind of game that sits in the back of your mind, asking you “don’t you want to play me again?”
Ultimately, that’s one of the greatest compliments you can ever give a game — the fact that it’s hard to get out of your mind, and how you’ll want to revisit its world time and time again. Kirby’s Dream Land is just that game. While its difficulty might be non-existent, the pleasure it provides through its audio, video and gameplay is ever apparent. While it’s not necessarily an underrated game by any means, but it’s definitely not one that’s put in a list of best Game Boy games ever. If you want a less taxing game to play through, one that you will desire to pick up and play multiple times, hunt down a copy of Kirby’s Dream Land on the Nintendo Game Boy.