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January 29, 2016

Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (Part 3)

Alright, we went through the Destiny Islands, we saw all that there was to see in Traverse Town, we ventured through hedge mazes and helped everyone retrieve their memories in Wonderland, now we’re at the Coliseum! To find out what happened in the previous worlds, read Part 1 here, or Part 2 here.

The first fights aren't too tough, since
Sora is alone to deal with the enemies.
Data-Sora steps into the Coliseum, breaks his first blocks, meets the first enemies. At some point, he thinks he may be noticing a muscular hero, but the guy leaves before Sora can talk to him. We also notice that the grey fiery terror of the Underworld, Hades, is there as well, planning something against Hercules. Now, the mythology fans among you will tell me that Hades was not a villain in the original mythology, that Disney got it all wrong, that Hera would have been a more fitting villain, that good and evil aren’t this much set in stone in Greek mythology… Hey, you really think a game following the storyline of the Disney movie would care? …Why am I bringing this up anyway? Let's just move on...

The one and only! Unless you count
the Marvel one.
On the second floor of the Coliseum, Sora’s path is blocked by piles of rocks, and after exploring what little of the zone he can check, he finds Hercules punching through one of the piles. They talk, Sora explain the broad strokes of the situation about the bugs – thankfully, because if he went in detail they’d be talking for an hour – and Hercules decides to join Sora’s team. They keep going and find the exit; meanwhile, Hades (still voiced by James Woods, funny as ever) is plotting with some odd human-like character with a single black wing... and a goddamn big sword…

How can he wield such a giant sword?
It looks more impractical than useful.
On the third floor of the Coliseum, they encounter and fight against the mysterious stranger, who turns out to be Cloud. Yes, THE Cloud from Final Fantasy 7. No, seriously. The Kingdom Hearts franchise always had this quirk of including actual Final Fantasy characters into its storylines; no matter how nonsensical it may turn out to be. In fact, Selphie, Wakka and Tidus, the trio on Destiny Islands, also was from the FF games. When Cloud is defeated, he leaves; Sora and Hercules then find the exit and move on to the fourth floor.

On the fourth floor, in the middle of smashing mooks and blocks, Sora and Hercules find Cloud also fighting enemies. They chase after him just as he’s cornered by a much larger Heartless, and decide to help him. After they defeat this large group of Heartless, Sora manages to convince Cloud to join. Ally Get! They reach the door leading to the fifth floor and cross it… The following floor is simple: Just a straight path leading to a staircase, and on top of the staircase, a plateau where the group has to fight… Cerberus, the three-headed dog!

What a multiple head case,

If you use everything you’ve seen in the Coliseum to its full potential, you can beat Cerberus with relative ease. However, when Cerberus is defeated, Hades appears in a puff of smoke and, pissed, challenges the heroes.

I knew Hades had all the requirements to be a great RPG
villain; he turns red when he gets angry during the fight.

Goodbye Data-Sora, it was nice meeting you.

What a villain this is! He hides behind his mooks! Pathetic!
Oh, who am I kidding, this early in the game? Hades is tough, but not that bad. If you didn’t waste all your resources on the fight against Cerberus, you can beat Hades pretty easily. Just deal with the minions he summons. He’s not that difficult, really, once you master the system. Sorry Hades, you’re kind of a pushover… you’ll have to do better than that if you want to rule the world! If you’re so pathetic, how can you ever dream of dating Maleficent? (That's from an episode of House of Mouse.)

Sora and Hercules go back to Phil and announce that the Coliseum is back to normal! (It’s not, but I’ll talk about that later.) Cloud has gone back to his own world, without saying goodbye to Sora and Hercules. Sheesh, I hope he wasn’t distant like that with his teammates… Well, this is another world completed.

"Playing dumb"? Look who's talking!
In Disney Castle, Data-Riku, the spirit of Jiminy’s journal, explains that whichever souvenirs showed up in the journal that haven’t been written there by Jiminy must have come from the actual Riku, in the real world. …I… I seriously don’t know what to say to this. Magic: It does anything. Expecto Patronum and Avada Kedavra, yadda yadda. On the screen, Sora comes out of the Coliseum when a large character walks up to him… a character easily recognizable as one of the longest-standing enemies of Mickey: Namely, Pete. He immediately announces his intention to take over the virtual world and that nothing will be able to stop him.

Wait a second, PETE was the one to hack himself into the computer? Let’s see… Let me just pull up the most convenient answer I can give to this… Got a nice set of cards with pre-written responses in such situations… Ah! There it is.

That’s what it is! Although… I’ll give the game that, Pete going into the journal and hacking himself a nice set of superpowers while inside in order to become the ruler of that world does sound like the sort of power fantasy he’d get… Now, we have no answers whatsoever on HOW he did it, because when you think about hackers, you don’t generally think of, well, people like Pete. Nor will we ever find out what exactly he did to get into the journal, by himself, when originally the journal’s spirit – Data-Riku – was the one to bring them inside itself (himself?), using the computer to do so. Either way, we gotta continue the story.

Game: Ever heard of "show, don't tell"?
Data-Sora chases Pete all the way to Agrabah, and finds the Arabian town mostly empty.  Venturing deeper into the town, Sora finds Aladdin who’s right in the middle of his own adventure, as he just got out of the Cave of Wonders and is looking for Jasmine. Yeah, I have a feeling this story will take a bunch of turns that weren’t in the film… Aladdin enlists Sora’s help to retrieve Jasmine, as she may be in danger. Sora leaves and soon finds Jasmine. Only downside: She’s being threatened by Jafar. Sora comes in, talks to Jafar and mentions Aladdin – smart move there, kid – and after Jasmine has run away, Jafar goes into fight mode.

Wait a second, I thought the Genie inside the lamp was
the one granting wishes, not the lamp itself! And if Jafar
uses the glitched lamp, won't his wishes be all glitchy?
Urgh, why am I overthinking again...
After the boss fight is over, Jafar escapes, Sora goes to Jasmine and brings her to Aladdin… Meanwhile, Jafar encounters Pete, who suggests they strike a deal. To pull Jafar into agreeing, Pete shows a virtual copy of the Magic Lamp.  When Sora finds Aladdin, Jafar comes in with his bugged copy of the Magic Lamp, kidnaps Jasmine, and freezes time in Agrabah. Mickey helpfully informs that the Keyblade is what allows Sora to be still able to move despite time being stopped, but someone else in the city is still able of movement: Iago, who steals the real lamp out of Aladdin’s hand and runs flies away.

Because nothing is ever simple for a hero, am I right?

And of course, this is a timed mission, so you need to be quick in finding Iago! Thankfully, killing enemies awards you some extra seconds. Sora finds Iago once, so the parrot escapes again, and this time Jafar has come back and sends “ghosts” of himself at Sora, making him lose previous seconds when they touch him. And those things are indestructible… Sora tracks Iago two more times, and recovers the lamp. Wondering just what could be so important about such an artefact, Sora rubs it and out comes the Genie!

That's a genie who sure lives large.

Robin Williams voice (sadly) not included, not even in the "Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX" fully-voiced version (instead replaced by Jim Meskimen). No resuscitation or instant love wishes, nor can you wish for more wishes. Magic Lamps Inc. declines all responsibility for any undesirable aftermath of the wishes in the near or far future.

After Genie presents himself in his unique way, Sora wishes for the place to “come back to normal” but Genie only interprets it as “erasing all the Heartless and blocks in Agrabah” and does so… but forgets to remove Jafar’s time-stopping spell. To repay his mistake, Genie brings Sora to the Cave of Wonders, where Jafar is. However, Jafar uses the power of the bugged lamp to lock himself inside the Cave of Wonders, leaving Sora outside; thankfully, a System Sector can be found, entered and completed to reopen the Cave.

Giant spherical stones following clear paths and which are too tall for me to jump over!
Oh, why did it have to be giant spherical stones following clear paths and which are too tall for me to jump over?

"You will pay for all my friends you smashed!
Especially that lonely Blox in Floor 3 of Olympus Coliseum!
I loved her!"
Within the cave, a bunch of traps await, but there’s also a new kind of enemy… see, those blocks are tired that you keep massacring them. So, some of them have grown spiderlike legs and decided to take revenge. The new enemy introduced here is called A Blox Bug (I should mention that the correct name for all the non-moving blocks so far is actually “Blox”, most commonly “Bug Blox”; for the sake of clarity, I’ll refer to the non-moving cubes still as blocks, and the moving ones, the cubes on legs, as Blox. Good? Good). When Sora reaches the end of this room, he finds the exit blocked by a cascade of sand. He has to find a System Sector in the trapped room, which requires some backtracking. Finally Sora moves to the next room, then goes down an elevator where he fights monsters – and must not fall off – and finally reaches the depths of the Cave, where Jafar awaits.

Obviously, when you leave your weak point hanging out,
you have to expect someone's gonna smash it.
And damn if the fight is on! First Jafar fights alongside two clones. When this still leads to the vizier’s defeat, he uses his final wish on the glitched lamp to turn into his Genie form from the end of the Aladdin movie. Sora finds the keyhole and enters the boss arena… Genie-Jafar is absolutely massive and cannot be harmed. However, some grand vizier had the "brilliant" idea to let his parrot fly around the room with his own magic lamp. Or, if you prefer, his weak point. You guessed it, it’s time to hack and slash at an annoying bird. Chase Iago, swing your Keyblade at him, fight the enemies that pop up, avoid Jafar’s attacks. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yeah, well, when that phase is over, Jafar summons blocks around the room and Iago goes flying a little higher to avoid Sora. It’s still manageable, though. Sora picks up the glitched lamp, and boom, Jafar is sent into it. Now Sora, just throw that goddamn lamp in the lava and be done with it!

Oh, I dunno, because you're always doing evil, perhaps?
Pete shows up, bitter that Sora has defeated Jafar, but vanishes right after. Oh, you, I wish I could just kick your ass back into the real world right here, right now! But I guess that’ll be later. Since Jafar’s defeat removed the time-stopping spell, Sora tells goodbye to the Genie, and tells him to bring back his own lamp to Aladdin. Sora then leaves the Cave of Wonders but finds Pete outside again. Pete presents another of his new allies to Sora… Maleficent. The Maleficent of the real world, who somehow also found her way into the journal. To prove just how dangerous she is, Maleficent uses her powers to steal Sora’s Keyblade, and then promptly destroys it. She then sends Heartless monsters at Sora, but Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Data-Riku appear. Pete then explains how he got in the virtual world… it’s so simple an idiot could have thought of this: He was spying behind the door to the computer room in Disney Castle, and when the bright light emitted from the computer – sucking Mickey, Donald and Goofy in – he opened the door enough to be sucked into the data world too. And somehow Maleficent was able to join them, as well.

Ah, no hacking then? And it (mostly) makes sense? Sigh. Can’t mock the storytelling when it’s done right… Well played, re:coded… well played… *slow appreciative clap* Although, this doesn’t explain HOW Maleficent could teleport into the journal’s data, since she doesn’t seem to know a thing about computers or virtual worlds… nor does it explain how Pete got himself a whole bunch of powers… You know what, let’s just continue the story.

Poor Riku. It doesn't matter which Riku it is, the real
one or the virtual one; he always ends up possessed,
cloned, mind-controlled, and thrown into the villains' plans.
Maleficent attacks the now defenseless Data-Sora, but Data-Riku gets in the way and blocks the attack... which leads to him getting captured by Pete. Now with the personification of the journal in their hands, Maleficent and Pete warp back to their base, Hollow Bastion. Which also turns out to be the final bugged world within the journal. Sora cannot defend himself anymore, and it’s impossible to hack a Keyblade into the virtual world while Mickey, Donald and Goofy are in it… But hope isn’t lost. They still want to help Data-Sora! Mickey leaves to do some heroics, leaving Data-Sora, Jiminy, Donald and Goofy behind, but as the latter three discuss ways to get things solved, Sora runs out to Hollow Bastion, determined to save Riku!

Despite being without any means of attacking, Sora finds a way to pen the great big doors of Hollow Bastion, and enters. However, he’s cornered inside by Pete, who traps Sora between walls of black blocks – which he can’t destroy, in a miniature arena with Heartless and Bug Blox attacking him. However, when everything seems lost, Goofy shows up with a shield and beats up these enemies in a matter of seconds. Oh hey, Goofy, you’re awesome! But instead of asking him to come back to the castle, Goofy joins Sora on the quest to kicking Pete’s ass.

Things works a little different here; since Sora cannot fight, Goofy (and later Donald) do all the fighting for him. Thus, Sora gives orders, they respond. And the orders are either to attack the monsters, break the blocks, or follow Sora’s steps. You can even activate special attacks for Goofy and Donald, but things may still get complicated in areas with a lot of enemies, as Goofy and Donald will follow the crosshair that appears on enemies targeted automatically by Sora. At the end of that room, Sora and Goofy find a door marked with the symbol of the Heartless, with four openings. For blocks. They need to visit each section of Hollow Bastion, find the pieces, and bring them to the door, as Pete is waiting behind that door with Data-Riku. Sora and Goofy visit the basement, where they find and save Donald, who found himself stuck in a room; he promptly joins the party to beat up some Heartless with Goofy under Sora’s command. What’s more, Donald is good with magic, so he can activate certain special switches.

After finding some of the emblems opening the door with the Heartless symbol, they step into Hollow Bastion’s library and complete the multi-room maze there, finding the last emblem. When they go through that door, they find themselves on a flying platform, beating up hordes of enemies – or, rather, Donald and Goofy do, while Sora somewhat commands them. When that’s done, Sora comments on how it’s great that he can count on his friends… what’s that, Data-Sora? New friends? Might it be that you’re evolving beyond your program? After which there’s another section to go through, a System Sector to go in, and finally we get to the room where Pete awaits.

Donald: Oft-forgotten champion of the Death Glare.

However, Pete proves himself smarter than you’d expect him to be, and knowing Data-Sora is powerless, he traps Goofy and Donald behind black blocks and menaces to crush them between the blocks. Pete then goes on about how Data-Sora is just data anyway, just numbers and commands, so why bother? And honestly, that was kind of my stance thus far, I seem to have been making fun of this Sora for being a fake. However, Goofy and Donald come to Sora’s defense, saying he was just as brave and nice as the real deal… I’d say that’s because “heart” is such an unclear concept here, meaning not only friendship but also bravery, strength of character, and more... But then again, it’s true that for a program, Data-Sora has been making a LOT of decisions by himself… decisions a logical computer program would not make.

And just as Sora is about to give up, a bright light appears, the black blocks vanish – freeing Goofy and Donald – and a brand new, non-virtual, heart-powered Keyblade appears in Data-Sora’s hands.

Oh Hell yes, now he means business!

…Wait, this means that Data-Sora’s heart, however virtual it may be, turned out to be powerful enough to grant him possession of a Keyblade? And that’s in no small part thanks to the links of friendship he has created with Mickey, Donald and Goofy?

…Awesome. In fact, that's when Mickey shows up to explain all of this. Because obviously they need to explain why this "isn’t" a deus ex machina.

Let's take it easy, what's beyond this keyhole will not
be simple to defeat. I mean, it's Pete. He's dumb, but he's
pretty tough.

Cornered, Pete escapes, but the keyhole appears. Data-Sora takes the reins, and chases after Pete, using his new and better Keyblade to unlock the keyhole and appear in Pete’s battlefield!

…Well everyone, I think I have to stop here for today. Join me in Part 4, where I will hopefully defeat Pete, go through the final two worlds, and prove that I, too, can be cool! …Oh wait, forget that last part. Okay, see you Monday!

January 25, 2016

Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (Part 2)

I spent the previous part explaining the different mechanics of the game as well as the basic idea of the plot, then I went through Destiny Islands. Go read it here to know what’s going on!

Sora – or, rather, a virtual re-creation of him within Jimini Cricket’s journal plugged to the castle’s computer, don’t question it, your head will hurt – has been sucked into a hole and wakes up in Traverse Town. Data-Sora meets Cid, who asks about three kids, triplets, who went on an errand and haven’t come back. The kids are none other than Huey, Dewey and Louie, Donald’s nephews. I guess that’s the way Disney found at the time to keep them with Donald, as parents in old Disney movies had the sad habit of falling dead or being evil witches. The triplets went to investigate the sudden appearance of the blocks but haven’t come back, and as you may guess, it’ll be Sora’s duty to bring them back.

Heading into the second sector of Traverse Town, Data-Sora quickly finds Huey cornered by Heartless. They get quickly defeated, and as a reward Huey hands Sora a strange glowing yellow piece, then says his brothers are in other parts of the town; Dewey is in the alley. Sora hurries there and finds Dewey, who also had a strange glowing yellow piece to give to Sora as a reward, but somehow lost it. Dewey drags Sora back to the previous zone of the town.

You know, since this Sora is just a piece of data and not the real deal, I should find him a nickname. What do you think of “Sorta”? It’s sorta Sora, but it’s not Sora.

You can't snake past this one.
In that part of the town, they’re attacked by more Heartless, and the blocks start disappearing into a hole in the ground. Investigating the place, Sora finds a System Sector and completes it; inside was waiting a snake made of blocks. Sounds like an uncreative boss, but hear this out: The blocks transform as the snake goes around! Incredible, isn't it? Wow, so much creativity. It's so impressive. I would have never thought of that myself!

I can't tell, those non-animated
cutscenes have basic character
designs... How can I say if he
is alright?
Upon returning, Sora meets Dewey again; the triplet retrieved the piece he had lost, which he promptly hands to Sora. The two go back to Cid, where he is waiting with Huey. The only one left is Louie. When Data-Sora heads back to the second sector, but the door has been replaced by… a glitch brick wall? Sora looks for the entrance to a System Sector, enters and fights through its three floors; this Sector presents another type of block, the green blocks that appear and disappear, thus not providing a sure ground for Sora to stand on. When this Sector is debugged, the door reappears and Sora goes to the second zone of the town, then finds his way into the third zone. There, he’s attacked by stronger Heartless, which he defeats, and then encounters the cloaked figure, which escapes to the first zone of the city. When Data-Sora follows, the figure goes through a door, and everyone who was in that zone has mysteriously disappeared, including Cid. Sora finds another System Sector, completes it, and finds everyone has returned to their place.

January 22, 2016

Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (Part 1)

Long ago, I made a list where I discussed the twelve video game franchises I wanted to try. As time went on, I got to try one or more of those franchises. One such example was Kingdom Hearts, a series with absolutely tremendous popularity, a complex storyline – perhaps too complex, for some – and featuring dozens of famous Disney characters. Considering the popularity of Disney and the popularity of Final Fantasy, this HAD to be a record-breaking blockbuster- er, I mean, game.

As a result, I one day found this Nintendo DS game at a store, and decided I wanted to try it. I mean, I kinda knew the story of Kingdom Hearts was complex, but I thought I would still understand the plot, right? I told some of my online friends that I bought Kingdom Hearts Re:coded… and what is the first comment I get?

“Bad idea for your first Kingdom Hearts game.”


Oh well, I’m stuck with it now, I better play it.

Alright! So, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded originally started as a mobile game titled, well, Kingdom Hearts coded. Oh yes, that’s how it’s written, I’m not missing a capital letter. On a chronological standpoint, it is supposed to take place after Kingdom Hearts II, which means that if it references the previous KH games too much, I’ll get lost. Most of the story is a re-telling… of the first Kingdom Hearts… inside a virtual dimension of sorts…

Nobody likes being caught in the center of a mind screw.
I know Dumbo didn't like the Pink Elephants.
You know what, this game is gonna be extremely mind-screwy. It’s gonna be tough to explain. Grab some popcorn, try to follow me, this is one Hell of a ride. However, rest assured; although they do take cues from the plot of the first Kingdom Hearts game, coded and its remake Re:coded affect very little in the overarching storyline, aside from exploring in greater depth certain themes that have always been present in the series (the heart, the soul, the memories – yes, it’s that kind of story), and offer few revelations that add to the greater story in the end. This, coupled to the plot taking place mostly in the worlds visited in the first Kingdom Hearts, makes this game not quite right as a first KH game to play, but correct nonetheless to be introduced to this universe (Multiverse?) and its quirks.

Let’s jump right into this!

January 18, 2016

Kirby's Adventure (Part 2)

Welcome back! So, I’ve already discussed half the game in Part 1, now let’s see what I can add in Part 2! Well… for starters, why not discuss the Copy Abilities?

All the abilities in the game.
Kirby’s Adventure was the first appearance of Copy Abilities, and they were pretty important. This is also the first appearance of many of these signature abilities Kirby has: He can use Stone and Hammer here, two abilities that became his regular attacks in the Super Smash Bros. series. He also has access to some of the best known abilities in the franchise, some that would return time and time again: Beam, Cutter, Fire, Ice, Laser, Needle, Parasol, Spark, Sword… There’s also the ever-popular “destroy everything on the screen” abilities, Mike and Crash.

I'm sorry to say, but my Fighter Kirby
plush never came equipped with a
Waddle Dee's ass to kick.
There’s also a few lesser known Kirby abilities, such as Throw and Backdrop, which release the inner wrestler inside Kirby and make him wipe the floor with his enemies. There’s the Ball ability, which I’m absolutely terrible at using, and there’s the Hi-Jump ability, which can hurt enemies though its main purpose is to reach high ledges easily. One ability, Light, serves only the purpose of lighting up dark hallways. There’s always one enemy with that ability conveniently placed in these dark rooms. Then there’s Sleep, hands down the most useless ability ever. I guess that’s all I have to say about the abilities in this game… Oh, I almost forgot! Some of these abilities are necessary to open paths towards switches that open secrets in the worlds of the game. This means you’ll sometimes have to go back to previous levels to get one ability in particular, then go back and get to the switch. It’s not always simple, and you need to avoid getting hit during the level if you don’t want to have to get that ability back… but it’s a neat little challenge. Alright, now that this is out of the way, let’s move to… World 5!

Ack! Good thing I'm not claustrophobic!
Yogurt Yard! Yak… Yokel… Yanmega… Yo-yo… Yummy… Yin-Yang… Yabba-dabba-dooo… Hey, don’t blame me, it’s impossible to make an alliteration in Y that would fit with what’s going on in that world! …I use the “Skip Part of the Challenge Free” card. This world takes place around a large mountain. And, what a coincidence, the boss is a large digging machine called Heavy Mole. The little enemies thrown at Kirby by the Heavy Mole can give him either the Hammer or Sleep abilities; Hammer can turn out useful, but Sleep could easily kill you, seeing as this is a scrolling level and Kirby going out of the screen – due to falling asleep – will result in losing a life instantly. After it’s defeated, we get to World 6…

The overcast, off-putting (and obligatory) Orange Ocean! For a moment I was mistaking it for the Orange Islands. I’m thinking about the wrong franchise. Before I describe the boss here, I need to explain something: Throughout the game, there have been encounters with a mysterious character looking like a masked Kirby. This character would often intrude with his crew, sending them at Kirby, and the pink puffball would have to defeat all of the team’s members before being allowed to move forward in the level. At other times, the masked character would drop something to help Kirby on his way. As you may have already guessed, this is Meta Knight we’re talking about. His frequent interactions with Kirby imply that he’s trying to stop our hero, although that doesn’t explain why he sometimes offers his help… although, if you subscribe to the theory that Meta Knight is acting like a secret mentor to Kirby, then his behavior makes more sense.

Kapow! Unmasked!
At the end of the sixth world, Meta Knight fights Kirby one-on-one, and offers him a sword. Which you HAVE to take. This is a sword duel, and you can’t skip it. You’re forced to use an ability you may not be all that good with, so this is probably one of the hardest bosses in the game. Hell, it would be one of the hardest bosses even if you didn’t have to pick up the sword. There’s a reason Meta Knight is called badass, after all. Still, eventually Meta Knight is defeated, and we move on to the final world…

Quick, Kirby, avoid Dedede's Grand Slam!
…Rainbow Resort! That’s right! I’ll just drop the alliteration now. There’s not much to say about this world. It’s the last one, so it’s the hardest. Its boss is, of course, King Dedede. And the battle is quite similar to the one at the end of Kirby’s Dream Land, although he has one or two new attacks, such as inflating like a balloon and flying at Kirby. If you don’t have an ability, you can still inhale his collision stars and throw them back, but if you have a good attack that can harm Dedede from afar, the battle should be a little easier. I mean, this penguin has loads of HP. When King Dedede is defeated, Kirby gains the last piece of the Star Rod, and proceeds…

…to the Fountain of Dreams! King Dedede hopelessly tries to stop Kirby from replacing the rod at the top of the fountain, but Kirby does so anyway… and, as a result, a large ball of darkness shows up. This is it, the real enemy! It turns out the inhabitants of Dream Land had suffered nightmares for a moment now, because of this thing, and Dedede was trying to stop the nightmares by breaking the Star Rod, which is the source of all the dreams in Dream Land! As a result, everyone had lost their dreams, but it was better than constant nightmares! And now that the pieces have been reunited, Nightmare is free to take over!

…Good job, Kirby. Good job.

Kneel before my overbearing horns
and my asscheek chin!

Although it’s not entirely hopeless! Dedede inhales Kirby and the Star Rod and sends them at the ball. What follows is a shoot-em up segment where Kirby has to deplete the ball’s HP in a set amount of time. Eventually, both Kirby and his opponent land on the moon, and the ball takes a vaguely humanoid shape, and it gains a humanlike face with dark shades and a cleft chin that would make a lot of superheroes jealous. This is Nightmare. Here it is, the final boss.

Nightmare: Bringing new meaning to the
expression "Shooting Stars".
For this battle, Kirby is equipped with the Star Rod, which counts as a Copy Ability that cannot be lost when Kirby gets hit. And that’s a good thing, because Nightmare is a tough boss. For starters, he’s impervious to most attacks. His freaking cape protects him, his face doesn’t feel any damn pain… his only weakness is the tornado-like cone the rest of his body is made of. You can only hurt him there, which is not easy because he can still use his cape to protect his weak point. Thankfully, Kirby has two modes of attack: He can shoot a blast with the Star Rod, which does quite a bit of damage but can be swatted back by Nightmare’s defenses, or he can just jump and spin the Star Rod around himself, which does far less damage but is more effective at touching Nightmare’s weak point, as you can just jump while below him. Both attacks have their ups and downs, the key is to use them both to achieve victory. Nightmare has multiple attacks that reveal his core, but sometimes the window of time for action is too small.

Thankfully, at some point Nightmare’s HP is depleted. The ensuing explosion blows a hole in the previously full moon, reducing it to a crescent. I mean, wow, was this guy made of dynamite or something? And damn, I’d hate to see the tides on the next day… Kirby escapes the blast on the Warp Star and flies across Dream Land, restoring everyone’s dreams. Finally, people can have good nights of sleep again! Yay! Roll credits.

Oh, but wait, this isn’t over! Kirby’s Adventure saves your progress, so you can leave it and come back later! Back then, this, too, was a pretty big deal, especially since this is a feature that was kept for RPGs, mostly, and hardly ever heard of for platformer games. And that’s a good thing, as there are still many things to try in this game! For starters, beating the game (and Nightmare) unlocks the VS Boss Mode.

Kirby, he's on the OTHER SIDE!
Pictured: Heavy Mole, one of the weirder bosses.
If you’ve ever played through Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s Boss Battles mode, you know how it goes. One Life! No Items! Fox Only! Final Dest- Oh wait, I got mixed up. Basically, you have only one life to knock out all ten bosses of the game. Well, the VS Boss mode of Kirby’s Adventure is the same thing; you have only one life, and you must defeat all the bosses without getting hurt too much. However, unlike Smash where the characters can be dealt a lot of damage, here Kirby still has only six Hit Points, against all eight bosses. And no, there’s no rest stop between bosses to replenish Kirby’s health. If you lose the only life you have, it’s over, and you have to start all over again. This is one Hell of a hardcore mode. You need to be really good to beat it.

But wait, this isn’t the only secret in this game! If you find all the secret switches and achieve 100% completion, you’ll discover the last secret mode of Kirby’s Adventure: Extra Mode. Just like the Extra Mode of Kirby’s Dream Land, this is a harder mode where Kirby only has half his usual amount of Hit Points, so you cannot get hit too often. It’s there if you want to try it, but you need to be excellent at this game if you want to have any chance.

Be the light that pierces the darkness!
Be the champion who defeats evil!
Be the baby that engulfs Maxim Tomatoes!
...Uh, forget that last one.
So yeah, I guess that’s everything I had to say. This is an awesome game. Kirby’s Adventure is a major step up from its predecessor in the Kirby series. HAL Laboratory had one chance to make this concept work, and they did an amazing job. The Copy Abilities are very well implemented, each one takes some time getting used to, but you can become a master at using any of them. …Well, except Sleep, but that’s kind of the point. On a certain standpoint, this game feels huge and epic. It’s still a platformer, but there’s a sense that everything is used to its fullest extent. The difficulty progression is just fine, the mini-games are a lot of fun, and the many special zones available in each world are neat touches. The secrets in certain levels are often difficult to find, but someone who uses logic can still find them with relative ease. It does require a greater knowledge of the abilities, however, as some switches require very particular abilities to be found. Some levels seem perfect to test the particularities of certain abilities, like that ice level that has floating ice platforms that deflect the rays thrown by UFO Kirby.

Use UFO Kirby to have adventures out of this world!

The games has plenty of features to keep you interested. You can try to perfect your mastery of the different mini-games, or you can give yourself a lot of challenges (such as trying to beat the game without ever using Copy Abilities). Last but not least, the unlockable modes, by their crazy difficulty, are meant for gamers who know the game and want it to be a lot more difficult.

Nightmare is a very interesting villain, I still
can't figure out how they programmed him
so that his cape protects his weak spot.
That's a brilliant idea in a platform game.
I do have one point of criticism, however; the plot, itself, while very creative and interesting, isn’t really clear unless you play the intro (which you should, of course). However, the Meta Knight subplot intrudes in a lot of levels, sometimes at random, which may lead to confusion over the character and his purpose. Sure, by now we know that Meta Knight is either, a) a secret mentor passing off as a villain, giving Kirby some fighting tools and skills to fight the evil, or b) a heroic knight who gets in Kirby’s way to prevent him from awakening today’s major evil character. Either way, he’s an opponent to fight, and his motivations in the game aren’t really clear. What’s more, the scenes before the final battle against Nightmare won’t really make much sense either unless you know about King Dedede’s role as a secret good guy who had excellent reasons to break up the Star Rod into pieces, just that this was a piss-poor plan that did more harm than good, and nobody knew why he did that. But aside from my few plot-related issues, this is an excellent game, I heartily recommend it. Go, play it, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

I’m starting to notice that I’m running out of joke ideas for the Kirby series. As Brawl In The Family showed, there’s only so much comedy you can make from “Kirby eats something”. Three games reviewed, still three left. I’m gonna get through this! I can do it!

Next week, a DS game!

January 15, 2016

Kirby's Adventure (Part 1)

It was a nice day in Dream Land… UNTIL THE NIGHTMARES CAME!!!! …Or did they? Actually, it’s the opposite, all the dreams are gone! I mean, I would be fine with not having nightmares anymore, but dreams? Damn this would make for boring nights. Alright, we have to save the subconscious!

Kirby’s Adventure was the second Kirby game to be released. This time, Kirby made his big debut on a home console, and we would finally get to see him pink. And that’s good; white, he was just freaky. This was also the game where Kirby became the copycat we all know and love today. This turned out to be a particularly impressive tour de force; since most Kirby abilities would transform the main character’s sprites (and require different attack sprites as well), this meant that there were 26 different hero sprites. Unhappy with creating such an avant-garde video game, the developers at HAL Laboratory also added mini-games and other bonus content.

I don’t think I need to explain much about the Kirby series by now; and if you don’t know much about it, be sure to check out my previous reviews of Kirby games to catch up with the rest. All caught up? Good! Let’s start! And I’ll try to make it short.

January 8, 2016

An Episode In Gaming: Kirby: Right Back At Ya!

Hello, and welcome to the first review of 2016! As I said in my previous review of a Kirby game (namely, the start of the legend himself, Kirby’s Dream Land), I’m planning to review a lot of Kirby games this year. However, I also had plans to take a look at TV shows featuring video games as a major element, or shows that are adaptations of video game series. Back in 2015, I put up a poll on the Planned All Along Google+ Community asking my readers if they wanted to see me write recaps of such TV shows. The response was a crushing majority of “Yes”, so I relaunched, asking what TV shows I should do… and once again, there was a crushing majority leading to the anime called Kirby of the Stars… or, as we know it in America, Kirby: Right Back At Ya!. Because it looks cute, and the abbreviation is spelled similar to Kirby, geddit? K:RBaY! Kerbay!

Hoshi No Kābī, which translates to Kirby of the Stars, began airing in Japan on October 6th, 2001. The series, which ran for 100 episodes, was produced by Warpstar Inc., a company that resulted from a joint investment between Nintendo and HAL Laboratory. As in, the actual people behind the Kirby games were helping the creation of this show. That had to help, right?