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Wednesday 29/03/2017: Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink

August 22, 2016

Kirby's Dream Land 3 (Part 2)

We’re continuing this review of the last Kirby game in Kirby’s Dream Collection – and before you ask, yes, we’re almost done traveling across Dream Land, but we’re far from done freeing it from the evil that is Dark Matter.

I can already feel flashbacks to the strongest Quebec winters
I have ever seen.

Pictured: The torture of a sound mini-game.
Next up is the Iceberg, because when the sky isn’t able to kill you, the ice might be. Freeing flowers from ice, killing Metroids with your ice ability… it all sounds simple but the truth is much different. This also has the most unbearable mini-game in the whole adventure. You meet Chef Kawasaki. Five Gordo will come down, each making a sound. Kawasaki will then hit his own Gordo with his frying pan, and you select the Gordo among the five that made that sound. Easy, you say? Hell no. Especially because you have to do it three times, and on the third time, the sounds all come pretty quickly, so good luck remembering the order. And of course, the sounds are not all that loud, so good luck hearing them… And of course, like all other mini-games put together by characters in levels, this one takes place close to the end of an extremely annoying level in which it’s incredibly easy to die, repeatedly. I wasted over 20 lives on that level alone. Kawasaki, once I’m done with your mini-game, you know where you can shove that fucking Gordo. ….Well, provided you actually have that kind of orifice on you, which is probably not the case in Dream Land… Either way, Kawasaki, I like you a lot more in the Kirby anime than in the games.

I mean, I knew Kirby games could be pretty difficult on the platforming side. It’s always been a part of these games. And, to be fair, “hard” doesn’t always equate to “bad”. It can equate to “annoying”, “tedious”, “frustrating” even, but it only gets “bad” when it’s unfairly tipped against the player, with really cheap tricks making the game infinitely harder than it could be – and even then, a lot of gamers actually like that added challenge. I get that the mini-games were meant to add a nice color, but in my opinion, they were done rather poorly. Their placement near the end of the levels, especially at the end of a hard level, can make them really annoying. Not to mention that the time window is very short to memorize what the game wants you to. Even worse than that, I suspect the mini-game character’s requests afterwards are also randomized, so sometimes it’s almost completely down to luck. And as I said time and time again, I am about as lucky as a guy who opens umbrellas inside, breaks a mirror once a week, and crosses the same black cat under a ladder every day on his way to work. I finally managed to solve Kawasaki’s mini-game… and I swear I’m never going back to that level again.

You'll believe a broom can sweep
your ass.
In Level 5, you must face almost all of the enemies in the game in various rooms, and to get the Heart Star you must do it with one particular Animal Friend, Nago the Cat, all the way through. In the last proper level, you have to collect an angel’s feathers, each in a different room, by using the ability earned in the previous room. Tough, because most fights here are against mid-bosses, but you just have to remember to get rid of your previous ability before picking up the next one, and repeat this eight times. Finally, we have all 30 Heart Stars, and so we can fight King Dedede.

The penguin is tough, but this time around you are allowed to keep your Animal Friend for the fight, and the Rick+Cutter combo works like a charm. At first, King Dedede uses his normal attacks, but when he’s defeated once he rises from the ground, his belly becomes an eye or a mouth and it starts attacking like Dark Matter. Shooting blobs of darkness, turning into a mouth and trying to chomp Kirby... That’s some pure body horror right there, can you even imagine the goofy, comical penguin suddenly looking like that? 

Image from Brawl In The Family.
You should see the Meta Knight one.

Once Dark Matter King Dedede is defeated, he falls to the floor and the Heart Stars of World 5 join to expel Dark Matter from the Iceberg region. Now, the center of the planet, the epicenter of Dark Matter, is available, known as World 6. All thirty Heart Stars merge to form the Love-Love Stick, a scepter that shoots hearts. Pretty much the number 1 reason why Heart isn’t a power that sucks. Oh, and there’s also all that friendship stuff and whatnot… But nobody cares about that.

HEEEEEEAAAAAAAAARRRRTTT!
This place is one long battle against Dark Matter, in three phases: First is regular Dark Matter, using attacks very similar to its patterns in Kirby’s Dream Land 2. When Kirby destroys that one, it explodes, but soon its white center reforms to become a giant eye with a red pupil, known as 0 (Or Zero, if you prefer). That one is pretty tough, as it shoots miniature Dark Matters and sometimes even patches of red that we can pretty much state to be blood. Because that’s always how it is with the Kirby series; cute and adorable on the surface, with a world of demons hidden behind. Forget Whispy, Kracko, Dedede; those are nothing. Dream Land is a gate to the Nightmare Universe.

When Zero is defeated, it seems to go away, but its red pupil doesn’t yet want to leave. It can still kill you, so be careful; thankfully, it also has only eight Hit Points and is fairly easy to avoid, so if you’ve got some strength left, you should be fine. After 0’s center is destroyed, Kirby, still floating above the planet, gets to see Dark Matter’s grip vanish completely, leaving him with a beautiful panorama.


Of course, if you defeated King Dedede without collecting all Hearts Stars, you don’t get to see any of that. Instead, you see Iceberg freed from the evil, but that big dark mass in the center of Planet Popstar is still there, ready to strike again anytime soon. Due to time constraints, I tried to collect all of the Heart Stars as I was progressing through the game (now that I have a job, I have a bit less time to write these reviews). Even then, many Heart Stars were pretty tricky. You already know I raged at many of them. The upside is that once a Heart Star has been collected, you can complete the mission in a level again, but you’ll instead be given an extra life as reward. Which, hey, an extra life. Those become rare in late-game, and you’ll lose many trying to accomplish the later Heart Star missions, so you can’t refuse them! It’s a good incentive to beat the missions in World 1 again repeatedly!

Even if you did defeat it...
It comes back in the sequel, for the Nintendo 64.

Oh, but don’t you go and believe that this is over! You know that the Kirby series loves to include additional material! Once you’ve beaten the Story Mode, you can go back to the File Select to access the bonus stuff. This includes three options:
Ado: "I'm contractually obliged."
Dedede: "Can we NOT do this?"
Whispy: "If I'm getting beat up again,
SO ARE YOU!"
-Boss Butch: You knew this was coming, almost every game in the series has this option. You have only one Life, no healing items in sight, no Copy Abilities, no Animal Friends, and you can’t summon Gooey either! And you must defeat all eight bosses starting by Whispy, then Acro, Pon and Con, Ado (and all the bosses she summons, god damn it!), Dedede, Dark Matter, 0, and 0’s eyeball. To say that this is a challenge is an understatement.
-Super NES MG5: A special mode that combines all five mission mini-games. The advantage is that you don’t have to go across a level to do them, the disadvantage is that you have to ace each and every single one of them, yes, even the sound-based one. They’re a tad slower than the originals, so with excellent memory you might be able to do it.
-Jumping: During Story Mode, when Kirby finishes a level, he gets to a Goal Game where he has to jump to one square in front of him. You press A and, depending on how much Kirby prepared himself to jump, he’ll land on a square closer or further from his starting position. The squares include healing items, little stars, a 1-Up, and a few grinning faces that give nothing. The mini-game Jumping is basically this, except you have to do it multiple times to reach the end without ever getting a grinning face. Almost entirely down to dumb luck.

One of the stepping stones of modern gaming. Hi Jumpman!

That’s all there is to this game, I can safely say I’ve discussed every part of it. And yes, it is another fantastic Kirby game from the folks at HAL Laboratory. Quite a few things are required to make a game unique.

First is a unique style. On this front, many Kirby games try to look unique, whether it’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn or the more recent Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Kirby’s Dream Land 3 looks like it was hand-drawn and hand-colored. Of course, nowadays thanks to the burst of indie games online, more games can look like this, but it was pretty special back on the Super NES.

Who though hamsters were an effective way to scale
mountains?
Second is a unique gameplay. The Kirby series has always been unique, and I don’t think there has ever been another video game character using copy abilities to the extent that Kirby does. Once again, most Kirby games try to put a spin on those abilities; Dream Land 2 introduced the Animal Friends, a concept we see here again, improved with three more Friends (and Gooey). It introduces the quests, which you have to complete in order to get the Heart Stars; this is different from the Rainbow Drops in Dream Land 2, as those were scattered around the many worlds and you didn’t meet NPCs that you had to help. The mini-games were also pretty novel back then, considering they are parts of levels, and you have to win at them to get to the final boss. Last but not least, many levels here have gimmicks. Those range from the mission-imposed ones (don’t step on flowers) to air or field traps (as an example, in the first level of Iceberg, you have to thaw flowers out of the ice, and not crush any of them, which is tricky since there are heavy clouds passing by always blocking the view, which makes it hard to see where the flowers are). Yeah, New Super Mario Bros. Wii may have done a similar thing, but the concept definitely existed before. I must mention as well the game’s attempts at surprising you with unexpected changes to the regular opponents, like Whispy Wood suddenly charging at Kirby or Dedede suddenly growing an eye on his belly.

Third is memorable characters. Kirby, Dedede, they’re memorable alright, which brings me to the villain: Dark Matter. Notorious as one of the most evil monsters in all of the Kirby Universe, being the villain in no less than three Kirby games, and while it was already established as some sort of Eldritch creature in the previous game, here it becomes downright terrifying, despite still being nothing more than a floating sphere. It shoots blood, for Christ’s sake! In a game for kids! You’re gonna remember it, that’s for damn sure!

Pretty great that they upgraded some Kirby bosses...
and then got very devilish with some others...
Thanks again, Ado, for your Kracko...
I do have a few points of criticism for the game. In some cases, you’re not going to know what to do in a mission, as the NPC at the end of the level cannot speak to you. Thus, you have to figure it out yourself. That’s already tricky, but then take into consideration the harder missions where you have to use a particular ability, often with a particular Animal Friend (or in one case, switch between two Animal Friends multiple times)… Then as I mentioned earlier, I quite dislike the memory mini-games that are given as missions. Not only do you need to think fast, you also need to be able to remember what’s presented to you, and failure to do so means you must restart the entire level (because Kirby can only respawn on a screen where he dies, and he can’t die in a mini-game room, so if he dies in the next room, he’ll respawn there).

But do I have anything else to say? Nah, not really. Awesome game, you should try it. And now, with these words, I have officially finished reviewing the sixth Kirby game in Kirby’s Dream Collection, which means I can finally move on to something else!

…Oh no, wait, I have to talk about the three episodes of Kirby: Right Back At Ya that are also in that collector Wii game… Well then, how about we do that next week?