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August 29, 2016

Kirby: Right Back At Ya - 12 Recommendations

Last week, I reviewed three episodes of the anime Kirby: Right Back At Ya, three episodes that were put on Kirby’s Dream Collection, But this does not mean we should keep it to only these three episodes! The anime has 100 episodes, there’s got to be some good ones in there. And indeed, there are! And, in fact, more than 12 good episodes. I went back through the series, and found over 12 episodes that I heartily recommend. The three episodes of the previous post, plus the ones here, this should be a 7-hour binge. Honestly, if you like the Kirby series, you should check these out.

1. Episode 4 – Dark and Stormy Knight

You’ll find that some episodes on this list advance the overarching plot of the series. And the series wastes no time to get into the meat of the plot. Episode 3, “Kirby’s Duel Role”, had Meta Knight dueling Kirby to push the pink baby to his limits, as Meta Knight is teaching Kirby to reach his potential. In this one, we learn more about Meta Knight’s backstory, which he explains to Tiff. Meanwhile, it’s Hell outside with NightMare Enterprise sending none other than Kracko after Kirby, attempting to zap him and generally causing destruction all over Cappy Town. Much like in the games, Kracko is a formidable opponent with extremely dangerous moves, and it takes Kirby everything he’s got to be able to hurt it. That’s the kind of episode needed in a TV show: The pilot tries to drag you in and present the concept. The first few episodes need to show off the universe surrounding the characters, explain more of it. In the case of series with a continuity, the first few episodes must already throw hints at the greater storyline, and on that front, the Kirby anime does pretty well. Oh, not all episodes on this list are relevant to the story arc; but it makes sense that this list would have some of them. Also, freaking Kracko, man.

2. Episode 6 – Un-Reality TV

Tssk. Puppetry shows are so passé. Too bad
there isn't a Jim Henson in that universe to help.
Even though Dedede is the King of the place and already rules with an iron fist, he’s not exactly taken seriously. His crusade against Kirby only made it worse, as the King has suffered defeat after defeat. What’s a King to do to get control of his citizens? Well, control the media, of course! After all, the little people ae more inclined to accept what they hear on TV! Or else, why would it be on TV? Thus the penguin delivers televisions to every home in Cappy Town, with a single channel (that we know of): DDD, a propaganda reputable channel that will repeat as often as possible that Kirby is a threat and King Dedede is a benevolent ruler. Somehow, Dedede and Escargoon turn out to be a part of every show, whether it’s a quiz, the news, a cooking show, a kaiju film, a Star Trek spoof… or even a medical drama. Gee, there’s an awful lot of characters speaking in a Southern accent in these shows. Things get serious, however, when Dedede uses this media to hypnotize the people of Cappy Town to turn on Kirby… A pretty funny commentary on television, with a whole bunch of parodies – how could one say no to that?

A hospital drama... in the Kirby universe. Odd.

3. Episode 21 – The Empty Nest Mess

This show salvaged Dyna Chicks, who had so far
only been seen like annoying chirping creatures.
They're so cuuuute here!
As shown Friday in “Waddle While You Work”, whenever Dyna Blade gets involved, you know something BAD is about to happen. She’s an actual wild animal here, and not a monster created by eNeMeE, thus she has an agenda of her own, which is mostly two words: "Protect chicks". There was that episode where Kirby found a Dyna Egg and everyone was afraid he’d gobble it up; he ended up hatching it and raising the baby. Then there’s “The Empty Nest Mess”. To avoid having to pay eNeMeE to get monsters, Dedede has Escargoon create an instant monster formula: A potion that transforms any creature into a monster. Don’t yell BS too quickly, instead wait to see what they plan to do with it: Injecting a Dyna Chick. Now, thats pretty evil. Thankfully, thanks to their incompetence, the first Dyna Chick they catch escapes and goes on a joyride around Cappy Town, which gives some absolutely adorable moments. Most of the episode afterwards is Kirby and Dedede racing to get the chick first, with Dyna Blade hot on Kirby’s trail, as the heroes try to prevent the horrible from happening.

4. Episode 24 – Hour of the Wolfwrath

Wait, a Fire/Electric wolf? Are we sure this is not
a Gen 7 Pokémon leaked years ahe3ad of time?
One of the most beloved episodes of the series, dealing with Meta Knight’s backstory – and in particular, how he came to have Sword and Blade by his side. As usual, King Dedede orders a new monster from eNeMeE, the aptly-named Wolfwrath, which then runs off and wreaks havoc in his castle. Upon finding out that it’s let loose, Sword and Blade go tell Meta Knight. The beats goes out looking for Kirby but Meta Knight steps in to fight it. When Sword and Blade show up, MK orders them to protect Kirby no matter what while he fends off the fiery wolf beast. After Meta Knight gets paralyzed and everyone else has to defeat Wolfwrath by their own means, Sword and Blade explain their backstory: Saved from that same wolf monster by Meta Knight in the days of Star Warriors, and Meta Knight took them under his wing to teach them the way of the warrior, as before they were nothing but lowly crooks. And as they recount this story, Wolfwrath is still in the halls, setting the castle on fire… Anyway, great episode, but no amount of text from me will do it any justice. Really, go watch it.

5. Episode 40 – Sheepwrecked

Never underestimate the strength of numbers.
Some of the weirder ideas could derail and result in awful episodes, or become classics. In this one, a reference to The Boy Who Cried Wolf, a little sheep attacks Kirby, and nobody believes Tiff when she reports on it! And of course, when she tries to find the evil one, she can’t tell it apart from the others! But this is no illusion, there really IS an evil sheep in the flock, and this woolly demon by the name of Amon is teaching the sheep to behave like wolves and leading them to attack the village! Silly, ain’t it? And yet, Amon will turn out to be one of Kirby’s more formidable opponents. That silly story is told with enough serious to make the viewer believe it, too; and to think Amon became that way after escaping his fate as cutlets in the King’s plate! Weirder plots don’t hurt a series, if they’re executed well, as shown in this episode.

6. Episode 44 – A Novel Approach

An illiterate leading a school. Dedede, your
stupidity never ceases to amaze me.
Like many other shows, Kirby of the Stars chose to harpoon one of the most famous fads in fiction: Harry Potter. Because, why not? “It’s been done”, you say? Ah, just listen to what this episode is about. The book craze is in town, and everyone is grabbing a copy of “Pappy Pottey and the Fool’s Stone” at the bookstore. Meanwhile, Dedede wants in on the fad, but there’s only one problem, and it’s big: He’s illiterate. Thus, instead of seeking someone to teach him to read, Dedede steals all the copies of the book and summons through NightMare Enterprises’s monster downloader the author of the book, who suggests to turn Castle Dedede into a magic school so that all the Cappies could live the world of the story. But of course, no one should trust eNeMeE, and especially not Dedede himself, so you can fully expect that this turns out to be another plan of Nightmare to defeat Kirby. Either way, you all know what will happen: Just wait, in a couple years Tiff will get into reading Fangnight, and then sometime later, Forty Tones of Pink.

7. Episode 47 – Cartoon Buffoon and Episode 89 – Tooned Out

Just you wait, Dedede. This little venture into
animation will take a turn for the sucky.
The “Cartoon Mogul Dedede” episodes. After seeing Tiff make a flipbook animation, Dedede decides he wants in on that animation business, and thus starts his own studio to produce “Dedede of the Stars”. Only problem is, the only workforce he can find is made of the Cappy Townsfolk, and none of them have any knowledge on how to produce a show – and very few have any artistic talent, too. But of course, since the King rarely thinks before grabbing a money-making idea, he immediately sells his show to NightMare Enterprises, with no guarantee that he’ll have anything of quality to present. This leads to hilarious moments during production and when the episode airs, with horrible animation and the voice actors having to do the voices on the spot. And of course, all this time, the only one who knows anything about cartoon-making is Tiff… This episode is pretty great, if only because of all the nods to real-life cartoon productions, showing every step of the process… and how it can go so very wrong in the hands of amateurs. The end result is a mess, which is completely unprofessional but admittedly hilarious.

Ahhhh! Too realistic! Too detailed! Too "Normal Anime"!
Creepy! Not like the rest is any better...

These guys would seem like quirky comic reliefs
who would deserve more scenes... that is, if they were
not stalking a little girl, with hearts in their eyes.
This follows in “Tooned Out”, where Dedede, undeterred by his previous failure, orders from eNeMeE a trio of otaku artists to make a cartoon for him. They seem qualified enough, and yes they are great artists, but there’s a problem: They quickly take an interest in Tiff, and they soon redirect the show to feature her. And thus, they start stalking her around, recording her lines and taking pictures, with an unhealthy obsession. Probably a crack at otakus, who aren’t exactly well-regarded in Japan. Sequestered by Dedede, the Otakings are left to work on their anime while Dedede summons, from Nightmare Enterprises, an obvious Walt Disney parody that tries to teach the King how to make cartoons through CGI and motion capture, but of course it turns out to be another ploy by eNeMeE. Not to mention what the Otakings end up showing at the end… Look up “Fumu-tan of the Stars”, you’ll see what I mean. Another episode I really like, despite being higher on the creepy factor than any other on the show. It’s another commentary on animation, especially about advanced animation methods and fandoms. It also has many references to other films, anime and series, and that’s always fun.

That. Is NOT. Tiff. Hell no. All the NOPE in the world.
I told you those Otakings were just perverted stalkers.
They do have a talent at drawing flowers and detailed
characters, but... No, just no.

From how much I wrote about these two, you can tell those are my favorite episodes in the series. The massive amounts of fourth wall-breaking and lampshade hanging helped quite a bit give these episodes a unique feel.

8. Episode 61 – Fitness Fiend (the Japanese one)

This one comes with a “But…”. The English episode is alright, but the Japanese one knocks it out of the park. The plot is simple; Dedede orders fattening chips from NightMare Enterprises to make Kirby fat and, at the same time, prevent him from inhaling stuff to gain abilities. However, in a bout of gluttony, Dedede also ends up snacking on the chips. As a result, both become big blobs of fat. Well, Dedede is lucky, his clothes still fit him even in that state. With neither being able to work out, Customer Service sends out Macho-San (Max Flexer in the English dub), a miniature guy with blackglasses, an afro and a leotard, who’ll put the two through training Hell. What do you mean, is it a ruse? Of course it is a ruse! Watch the episode in English, but then seek out the Japanese version of the part with Macho-San. It’s probably one of the greatest moments in the entire anime, especially with that impressive shot featuring over 70 characters.

Actually no, here it is.

Why is it so great? That scene uses a techno version of Dedede’s theme, and I swear, I listened to that video so often just for the song, I would PAY to get that song. It’s that damn catchy. It sucks that 4kids replaced it by a generic beat in their version for American audiences. I guess the episode is pretty great too on comedy, and that’s always positive.


9. Episode 64 – The Kirby Quiz

"So, was it Fire Kirby, Ice Kirby, or Stone Kirb-
Hey! Who left that stupid logo at the bottom?"
To start off the New Year, Channel DDD presents to Cappy Town a whole new show: The Kirby Quiz Challenge. Five teams of two join the quiz: One of these teams has Dedede and Escargoon, while another team is Tiff helped of Kirby. Gee, as if this didn’t already sound unbalanced. Oh, you haven’t heard the best: Customer Service is the main host for the questions! Interesting spin on the usual clip show, that’s for sure. At every question, Customer Service plays the relevant scenes from the anime. The quiz even starts with a question about the first episode! Most questions involve Kirby’s forms and the monsters he battled. Meanwhile, Dedede and Escargoon attempt to cheat their way to victory… A pretty brilliant concept for the episode, a real treat to watch.

10. Episode 80 – Power Ploy

Buff Kirby.... *shudder* That's just wrong.
Dedede has had enough of eNeMeE’s monsters never getting rid of Kirby, so he tries to file a complaint, but Customer Service tricks him into buying more stuff from them – namely, a new energy drink that soon becomes the talk of the town among Cappies for its crazy energy and muscle-boosting capabilities. When Kirby drinks some of it, he inhales a statue, becomes Stone Kirby, and goes on a manic destruction spree! The downside is that once the drink’s effect ends, its user is all worn out, and that was the plan all along: Customer Service sends a monster at Kirby, who’s now too weak to fight back! Once again, an episode with plenty of funny moments, but also quite a bit of action, just the way it’s supposed to be. And a pretty smart plot, really, that shows that NightMare Enterprises calls the shots on the side of evil, Dedede be damned. Oh, and an epic ending, too!

11. Episode 92 – Hunger Struck
What was that I said about the strength in numbers?
Oh, right...

Another episode about the Waddle Dees – let’s hope it doesn’t break my D key to talk about this one. Escargoon sees the multi-course meal the Dees receive and reports to Dedede, who upon seeing the cost of these meals, decides to drastically cut on his army’s portions. He creates a contest to see who, among the townspeople, could create the cheapest meal for his army, and Chef Kawasaki wins. Unfortunately, the chef’s paper-thin sandwiches are not a hit with the Dees, causing them to revolt against the entire town. “It’s not because we’re a mouthless nondescript mass that we can’t get hungry, you know!” You’ll believe they can be a threat! You’ll believe they can give death glares! And of course, things get worse when Customer Service sends out a cooking monster-

I told you the Waddle Dees were good at making
death glares.
No, a cookING monster, to feed the Waddle Dees on the condition that they bring Kirby… Another great episode, and one that finally paints the Waddle Dees as a credible threat! Strength is in the numbers, they say. Plus, it’s always good to have an episode that discusses the inner workings of the universe that's been presented to us since Episode 1. By the way, the episode finally answers how Waddle Dees eat: They absorb the food through the skin of their face and then chew it! Must… resist… temptation… to… question… the cartoon… biology… THAT MAKES NO SENSE! But I'll let it pass, because it's funny.

12. Episodes 96 to 100 – The Movie

Iron Kirby - a fan design. Looks good!
I can’t end this list without the big series finale. In the Japanese version, these five episodes formed a 90-minute movie, but upon localization (and to fit with the release date of Kirby’s Air Ride), 4kids released the first two episodes in the middle of the series. Those two episodes, Air-Ride In Style, were pretty important to the end of the series, but 4kids’ change in the order of episodes passed it off as a dream within the series. And yet, this two-parter turns out to be a long battle against some of NightMare Enterprises’ strongest creatures: The Air Riders.
Wow, that's a big ship.
Following this, it seems eNeMeE has finally had enough of this battle and sends out destroyer starships that level Cappy Town. Meta Knight reveals that through the duration of the series, he and his acolytes were building the Halberd, which they can use to travel across space towards NightMare Enterprises, to settle this once and for all. And thus, the final battle comes as Kirby, helped by an unlikely group of heroes formed by many of the Cappy Townspeople, head out to take down Nightmare. Oh, Dedede and Escargoon are in there, too, but they're mostly just nuisances here. As a movie, this is a really good ending, mostly living up to the expectations. It has comedy, it has action; it has everything that made the show so fun to watch. By this point, King Dedede and Escargoon in 3D blend pretty well with the surroundings, an art that was refined over the 95 previous episodes.
A chess theme, yet the pieces are not even on squares.
That is not how you play chess.
The Air Ride episodes have four Kirby abilities that were created by fans, and one of them, Water Kirby, even became part of the game series! One problem with it is that the battle against Nightmare is rather anticlimactic, but then again it’s justified by Kirby wielding the Star Rod and Nightmare being easy to defeat but also easy to revive since he’s a personification of bad dreams and, thus, can come back whenever someone has a nightmare…

P.S. Even the last episode alone is worth watching for that one scene with the revelation about Customer Service. It’s hilarious.

Anyway, enough rambling. This is my final post about the Kirby anime. I hope this gave you enough interest in the series to check it out at some point. It’s not perfect, there are some glaring mistakes in the English dub, but it’s still a pretty enjoyable kid’s show with enough wit in many episodes to appeal to everyone.

Next Friday: A final post about Kirby’s Dream Collection!

August 26, 2016

Kirby: Right Back At Ya - Three Episodes

I will go back on what Kirby’s Dream Collection has to offer in next Friday’s article. Until then, I need to talk a final time about Kirby: Right Back At Ya. There are three episodes of the TV show available in the collector’s item, so I figured it would be fair to review them here. I remember making an article about the anime in general back in January, but I believe I didn’t exactly do the show justice there, writing what’s more like an introduction than an actual review. I was also planning to write quick posts about every episode, but I soon found out that my real life obligations would have made it impossible for me to do that. Think of this as me paying this kind of debt to the Kirby anime, by offering finally honest critiques of three episodes of the show, maybe giving you the desire to look for these episodes and watch them. And Monday, I will try to direct you to twelve other episodes that I really enjoy in this anime, episodes that I go back to more often than others… that is, whenever I’m in the mood to watch Kirby kick ass outside of a video game. Alright then, enough blabber, let’s get this started!

Episode 1 – Kirby Comes to Cappy Town

EXT. FIELD – NIGHT. Panorama shot of a hoard of sheep sleeping. A giant octopus monster comes out of nowhere and starts eating them all, leaving carcasses behind.

So, another fan of lamb cutlets! Nice to meet you!

Well… This sets the mood! Welcome to Dream Land, home of all your kaiju-esque nightmares!

Ah, Kirby. Adorable regardless of dimension.
2D world, 3D world, game world, anime world...
After its meal, the creature flies back to King Dedede’s castle. Meanwhile, in space, a little star-shaped spaceship flies across the vast emptiness. Its inhabitant, our pink copying sphere, suddenly wakes up. The ship alerts him that there’s trouble on a nearby planet. Kirby sets the controls for the heart of the sun – Oh wait, my bad, I had Pink Floyd in my head. I mean, the spaceship heads towards Planet Popstar.

In Cappy Town, the Cappies confront King Dedede about the giant octopus, but all he has to show them is a tiny cute little pet octopus that cannot in any way be the giant monster that attacked last night. One villager, the young Tiff, daughter of King Dedede’s Cabinet Minister, still has doubts, especially after seeing the tiny octopus doing a scary face. (After all, who else but villains do scary faces like that?) Worried, the townspeople head towards the mystical Kabu, a giant stone spirit in the forest, and the spirit informs them that a hero named Kirby is coming. Tiff immediately imagines a Link-like figure. Oh, girl, you’re in for some disappointment!

Tiff; if you're dreaming of bishonen, I have bad news for you;
You got gypped, you were sent into the wrong franchise.

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.

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,
-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
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?

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?