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August 19, 2016

Kirby's Dream Land 3 (Part 1)

Over the course of the past two years, I covered five games available in Kirby's Dream Collection: I started off in May 2015 with Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, because I had it on the Wii’s Virtual Console. Then, later in 2015 I started placing Kirby reviews at the beginning of my review order. In November I reviewed Kirby’s Dream Land. Then, come 2016, I went through Kirby’s Adventure, Kirby’s Dream Land 2 and Kirby Super Star. (On the side I also reviewed Kirby’s Epic Yarn in 2014, but nobody cares). It got progressively more difficult as I was going through these games, because there’s only so many jokes I can make about Kirby’s copy abilities before I run out.

Are you ready? In the next three weeks, I’ll cover everything I’ve still got to cover about Kirby’s Dream Collection. That includes Kirby’s Dream Land 3, the three episodes of the Kirby anime that can be found in the Gallery, and a final post about the collector’s item as a whole.

Kirby’s Dream Land 3 is the second game in the Dark Matter Trilogy, and I can already spoil that because I reviewed the final installment where Kirby, helped by both old and new friends, defeats Dark Matter once and for all after it revealed itself to be a white, angelic demon with a bleeding eye, a halo, wings and large spiky vines coming out of its ass. It’s the Kirby series, it’s hardly big news; Hell, the other day, some little jester decided to wish for ultimate power and nobody batted an eye… You get used to the world being constantly in danger. “I just saved the world for the 274th time, can I have a 24-hour break before I have to save it for the 275th?”

Thankfully, Kirby is always excited like a child to go and save the world again. Blissfully unaware that this new adventure could be his last, never conscious of all the risks he’s taking. This isn’t a Kirby game without dangers and monsters of near-godly power. This also wouldn’t be a Kirby game without some unique style to it, and as a result K’sDL3 has an art style reminiscent of colored pencil sketches. It might be interesting to point out that this was the last game released in America for the Super Nintendo console, in 1998, and that it uses a unique rendering procedure known as “pseudo high-resolution”, which gave the game a wider palette of colors to work with, creating tones and ameliorating the “hand-drawn sketch” feel.

Left to right: Coo, Pitch, Chuchu. Rick (with Kirby
him), Gooey, Nago and Kine.
Also, this wouldn’t be a Kirby game without a brand new gimmick or an upgrade of an existing gimmick. As a result, the Animal Friends from K’sDL2 are back! Rick, Coo, Kine and Gooey are here again, but more Animal Friends appeared: Chuchu the octopus, Pitch the bird, and Nago the cat. I can already feel their popularity never getting anywhere close to Coo, Rick and Kine. Well, Chuchu maybe, but the other two, I doubt it. Also, we now have 8 different abilities to choose from, and with Kirby alone + 6 Animal friends, this makes 49 different combos to try out! Also, while he cannot summon allies out of abilities like he could in Kirby Super Star, this time around Kirby can summon at will Gooey, sacrificing one Hit Point to get a second character able to get rid of annoying enemies and other hindrances. That would be good, if Gooey wasn’t sometimes a bother himself (well, unless you plug in a second controller and have a friend play as Gooey, of course).

Why, thank you, miss Tulip!
(In a later mission, a mushroom asks you
to crush all the flowers.)
Last but not least, this wouldn’t be a Kirby game without a puzzle aspect that ties into the copy abilities. Kirby’s Adventure had some of it, Kirby’s Dream Land 2 counted on Ability+Friend combinations to collect Rainbow Drops, some puzzles in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shard had levels where getting certain shards requires a specific combination of abilities. The Kirby series always had a knack for crafting puzzles around the copy abilities. This time around, every level ends with Kirby meeting an NPC who needs a service given to them. That service often requires, you guessed it, the correct ability or the right Animal+Ability combo. Comically enough, some Nintendo characters cameo in some of these puzzles, like R.O.B. or Samus Aran. That’s pretty awesome. Since those encounters happen only at the end of a level, this once again means you have to complete whole levels with particular abilities. Hope you don’t have to beat a tough level with a crappy ability, as there’s at least one level like that in every Kirby game with ability puzzles. Completing a side-quest earns Kirby a Heart Star, with six Heart Stars per world, one per level, for a total of 30.

Okay, enough about the game’s functions, how about we get into the plot itself? The intro is simple. A large mass of darkness with a single eye blast across space and soon finds Planet Popstar. Kirby and Gooey are enjoying a nice day fishing when the entity descends and spreads its tentacles across the world, taking control of key characters like King Dedede or, *pfffft* Whispy Woods – okay, sorry, there is no way that tree can be a notable force that an evil demon would take control of. Anyway, with Popstar in danger once again, Kirby sets out to free the world of this shadowy creature’s influence for good, this time helped by seven helpers.

"We have to stop this monster! What do you say, Gooey?"
"I like fish! Herp dee derp!"
"That's the spirit! Let's go, pal!"

That’s all we need, right?

We all know that behind every Kirby game, there's a
Grass Land as your first challenge. A proof that
you can face whatever's coming next.
Either that or it's just a place for beginners.
Dark Matter’s tentacles have spread to the five branches of Planet Popstar, each representing a world. This adventure brings us first to Grass Land. Why bother with creative names when bluntly stating what a world is about works just as well? This first world already brings to us the puzzle aspect, and shows from the very first level that it won’t always be about bringing the right ability, the right Animal Friend, or the right combo to the end of the level. In Level 1-1, there’s a room with multiple tulips planted here and there, and Kirby – as well as his Animal Friend and Gooey – must make sure that they don’t crush a single one. If they crush any, the flower at the end of the level won’t give them a Heart Star. In the third level, the quest is a memory mini-game where a round character with a red cap will throw a Gordo with an odd design or face behind two columns, and you have a split second to look at it, then you must pick which Gordo it was among six different models. There's one mini-game like this in every world, and all of them revolve around memory, so you'd better be ready to remember everything.

Same old, same old. Why would
it change? It's just Whispy.
So, at the end of this world, I already know who we’re gonna be fighting. It’s gonna be Whispy Woods again. Why would it be anyone else? It’s always been Kirby’s starter boss. It stays in place, throws apples at you, sometimes blow air in your direction, and it’s always laughably easy to beat, as is expected from bosses who never move from their spot. I mean, we’ve seen variations, like a stronger Whispy that could summon Gordos, or Twin Woods, which had conjoined Whispys, but none were all that tough... Whispy is never meant to be a tough boss.

And of course, once again. it’s a ridiculously easy fight. It summons apples, we inhale them and throw them back. And before you know it, since this guy sucks so much, we’re halfway through the fight, and on the way to definitive succe-wait. …WHAT? Whispy has uprooted itself and is chasing Kirby? THE TREE IS RUNNING AFTER ME! AAAAAAH! It’s gotten harder to grab apples and throw them! And the tree might just crush our pink pal! Why did I make fun of you all these years, Whispy? Whyyyy? Is it my comeuppance?? …Oh hey, look, it still goes down with a few more hits. Guess I panicked for no reason. Congrats to HAL Laboratories, though, to throw this curveball at us. I never saw it coming.

...Did I panic? ………………..Nooooooooooooooooooo…. I was merely… surprised, that’s all! Totally not panic. Just surprise. I swear.

When Whispy is defeated, if you collected all six Heart Stars in Grass Land, patches of black seem to rise out of the world around, which is now freed from the influence of Dark Matter.

This guy wants a Kine+Parasol show.
Gotta beat the level with that...
World 2 is Ripple Field, the obligatory water world. This is where the puzzles start getting a little more complex. Once again, you frequently need to figure out what to do, explore every corner. Thing is, you’ll often meet the giver of the quest at some point in the level, but it’s also possible that you’ll meet them only at the end, often without any indication of what you must do. It doesn’t help either that some of the quest givers that offer mini-games are located near the middle of tough levels, and the memory mini-games themselves are often hard enough that you’ll have to retry them multiple times. And of course, after you failed the mini-game, you cannot go back to the previous area; you need to start over, or beat the level and then try it again. Urgh.

At the end of Ripple Field awaits Acro, an orca that really acts opposite to all orcas. Its behavior is all backwards. It starts the attack on land, but then takes it to sea, and your best chance there is to toss back at it what it throws at you.

Whoa, was the last Waddle Dee I ate high on LSD?
I feel like I could just trip all day.
So purdy backgrounds...
World 3 is Sand Canyon, which has a lot of patches of sand slowing down Kirby’s movement. The sixth level also has a high-tech pyramid on Level 6, which has trippy backgrounds and the most infuriating Heart Star in the whole game; you have to collect the five pieces of a R.O.B., except every piece is hidden behind a puzzle, some of which require the exact Animal Friend and the exact copy ability. The lowest door takes Kirby to a room with enemies with all the eight abilities, followed by two rooms containing all six Animal Friends, and you need to figure out the required combos to solve the puzzles. Oh, and have great reflexes too, because it’s very easy to die in almost every single one of these rooms. It’s devilish!

All this to save a dumb R.O.B. that will never be useful to me.

The boss is a duo: Pon and Con, a tanuki and a fox who team up and bring around their offspring to hit Kirby. Aw please, don’t drag kids into this! Kirby will inhale them and hurt you with them! They also throw bombs on the battlefield! And those can also kill the kids! This is a slaughter! Tactical suicide! Either way, Pon and Con are defeated, and the influence of Dark Matter is repelled from this part of the world.

Don't ever involve your kids in your feud against someone!
Especially not if the kids might die!

The game never explicitly states that Rick can do that;
It's implied early on since it's shown Rick can jump
when staying right next to a ledge, but it's not clear
We step into the fourth world, Cloudy Park. Oh goodie, the obligatory sky land. I can’t wait to fall into any of the hundreds of endless pits down there. And it starts off with a very annoying Heart Star, too; in the first level, you have to use the clean ability with either Coo or Rick, in the final room of the level, to clean up five flowers, and you cannot crush them. That room comes after many tough rooms where it’s fairly difficult to navigate with either of these big Animal Friends, and it’s also fairly difficult to control them so that they do this without ever crushing a flower. The puzzles here require not only the right combo, they also demand incredible dexterity. Later on, you need to complete a platformer-heavy level with Rick the Hamster, a level that requires that you know about Rick’s wall-climbing ability, as it’s the only way to get to the end – and even if you do know, it’s still tough because of all the enemies in the way, placed at exactly the right spots to be a pain in the ass.

Go, my creation! Kill Kirby!
I realize that in the Kirby universe, "Draem Land",
the power of creation (implied by the Paint ability)
is probably the strongest, as it derives directly
from creativity and the subconscious, therefore
it gets its power from what dreams are made of... 
The boss at the end of this one, it’s a sky world, it’s gotta be Kracko. I mean, why wouldn’t it be? Fucking Kracko… Always the most infuriating boss, even worse than the final bosses! And it turns out to be…. Ado? A painter girl? Well, color me surprised. That can’t be so hard, the other painter girl, Adeleine in Kirby 64, was kinda easy. Ado starts off by summoning Ice Dragon. Okay, a boss, but not all that tough. Then, Sweet Stuff is summoned. That’s a bit harder, I admit, but still, not a big threat. Then she summons Mr. Bright and Mr. Shine…. Oh boy, now this starts getting pretty difficult. Because those two still work as a team even if they’re using a simpler pattern than usual, and so it can be hard to avoid them at all times, not to mention one goes crazy when the other is down. Then, Ado summons… Kracko. OH, FUCK ME. As if Kracko as a boss wasn’t already fucking hard enough, they put him at the end of a quartet of bosses, and make him as hard as he normally is. Holy Christ, HAL Laboratories, this is insanity. Ado has got to be the hardest boss in the whole game, and if you don’t have a Copy ability, she’s nearly impossible to beat. Though, if you defeat Kracko, she attacks by herself and has only one hit point, so there’s that. She can still kill you, though. FINALLY, we win and we can free Cloudy Park from Dark Matter. Christ.

Fffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff------ Kracko, man!

Well then, that’s about everything I could cover for Part 1, how about I continue this in Part 2 this Monday?