Review: Kirby’s Adventure (NES)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out another game starring Kirby. This time, we check out Kirby’s Adventure on the NES. We find out if this adventure game is a good addition to this series.

Kirby’s Adventure was released in 1993 and is the second game released in the Kirby series. Earlier, we reviewed the first in the series, Kirby’s Dream Land for the NES, giving that game a positive review.

The storyline in this game seems to be that a nightmare has invaded dreamland and it’s up to Kirby to stop it.

Obviously, the hardware is different than the Gameboy, so the immediate difference is that Kirby is in full color. This was somewhat played up in the intro screen where the game takes an artistic turn, demonstrating how to draw Kirby. The last part is when the paint brushes come out and paints him the trademark pink color.

The game eventually takes you to a sort of “lobby” area where there is a door that you can enter that takes you to level one. At the end of each level is a star door that takes you to a bonus area. In this bonus area, you have to time a jump so that Kirby launches himself as high as possible. If you don’t press A, you just barely make it to the first level and get a message to press A. For each level higher, you gain a bonus in points. While that may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, it is worth trying for that perfect jump because the highest level rewards you with a free life. After a level completion, Kirby exits the door. If it’s your first time completing it, Kirby will plant a pink flag next to the door to denote that the level has been completed. A portion of the lobby is also revealed. Sometimes, it’s just another level, other times, it’s a bonus door. If the door turns white, to my knowledge, it just means that there are no more hidden buttons to be found on that stage (since, in the beginning, there are few, if any, hidden buttons, this happens really without you knowing what’s going on). If the door remains the same color, it means that there is a hidden switch you missed somewhere along the line. The number above the door denotes a stage in that level. If it’s flashing, it is the level that you haven’t completed yet (usually, the lack of a flag is a better indicator though).

Some of the bonus doors that can be revealed take you to a bonus stage. Sometimes, they are minigames. One such minigame is Crane Fever which gives you a chance to gain more free lives. For every small Kirby you manage to get, you get a free life. For every large Kirby, you get two free lives. Since you have two credits, you can obtain a maximum of four free lives per round. Be warned that the larger Kirby’s are harder to get and are more likely to fall out of the cranes grasp. What exactly causes the Kirby to fall out, I’m not entirely sure, but it seems that the more exact your aim is, the less likely they are to fall out of the crane. The crane game is denoted by the icon with a crane carrying a Kirby above the door. Another game is the quick draw game. These games are found behind doors with the hat occasionally shooting bullets out from under it. This game tests your reflexes. Simply press “A” when the buzzer sounds. If you successfully do this faster than your opponent, you advance to the next stage. The last stage is against Meta Knight and, as you might have guessed, is typically the most difficult to defeat (sometimes draws in less than 10 one hundredths of a second if I’m reading the sign correctly). Defeat all of your opponents and you’ll get three free lives. The third bonus game is the egg catcher game. You appear in a boxing ring with King Dedede. Instead of fighting him, however, you are simply trying to catch the eggs that he throws. The more you catch, the more points you get at the end. Get a perfect score (I’ve only ever done this once) and get three free lives. Catch a bomb, and Kirby blows up (though you still gain whatever bonus you have earned up to that point). If you avoid catching any bombs, Kirby humorously opens his mouth to allow ten chicks to pop out while Dedede pounds the ground in frustration. Completing a bonus game will allow Kirby to return to the main screen, but an “X” made of wood will appear over top of that door, preventing you from playing again.

At the end of each world is a King Dedede door. This is the world boss that is the final enemy stopping you from completing that world. Defeat the level boss and you gain access to the next world.

If you complete a world, a door will appear that allows you to wander between worlds. Additionally, when you complete the third world, a star warp door will appear, allowing you to travel quickly between all of the words you have gained access to up to that point.

Another door you can encounter is the museum door. This is denoted by Kirby’s eyes peaking through a slot. These museums are anything but comprehensive, but can allow you a choice of one of two weapons you can copy. If you want something for the next level and lost your ability towards the end of a previous level, this can be better than nothing.

Like the previous game, Kirby has the ability to inhale and spit out enemies. he can also inhale air when you tap on the up button to fly. A new general ability is Kirby’s ability to attack under water. This was not present in the Gameboy version, but in this version, you can blast enemies with a short ranged blast of water. This is great because now, it is much easier to defend yourself while swimming. What is much more prominent is his ability to copy enemy abilities. Swallow an enemy with a particular ability (not all enemies have this ability), and you can use that ability as your new main attack. Abilities can include a laser sweep, sparks, wheel, spikes, ice breathing, freeze, cutter, sword, and countless others. Fire breathing makes its return to this game, but the key difference is that this is just another ability that can be copied. In the Gameboy version, this ability is obtained through eating a plate of food. Another ability making its return is the microphone attack. Like the Gameboy version, using this ability will kill all enemies on screen. You have three shots, so use them wisely. While almost all collectable abilities have been removed from the previous version, there is still one collectable ability left intact – invulnerability. This is, again, via an item that looks like a lollypop with a star on it. Collect it, and you are free to rush through levels, killing any enemy you touch along the way (indestructible enemies aside of course).

Other things you can collect are, of course, free lives. Denoted by a 1Up icon, collecting these will grant you an extra life. There’s two health items you can collect. There is the famous bottle which partially restores your health. Alternatively, there’s the even more famous tomato which restores all of your health when either touched or swallowed.

Throughout the game, you’ll encounter a huge variety of enemies. Sometimes, they are just run of the mill enemies like the enemy with the broom or the enemy that waddles. These boring enemies will contain no special abilities, so you might as well use the ability to spit out enemies to get something out of the deal if you feel the need to defeat them at all. Most enemies, however, have a special ability that Kirby can copy by inhaling and swallowing. Just pay attention to an enemies attack to get an idea of what ability you’ll be getting. There are also indestructible enemies to be found. The only real way to defreat them is to work them off the screen. Typically, you just remove whatever barrier is in the way that prevents them from either flying away or falling to their doom. These enemies include the cannon (returning enemy from the previous game) and the spikey enemy (also a returning enemy from the previous game). Also along the way are mini bosses. Sometimes, the miniboss is just Meta Knight pointing a sword at you and disappearing. From there, you attack what amounts to a series of easy to defeat soldiers with various different weaponry. None of them have any special abilities to offer for Kirby. There’s also the large polar bear that throws blocks of ice at you. A beetle that catches and more or less piledrives you into the ground. Another bug-like enemy that grabs you and throws you against the wall. Then there’s a returning enemy that jumps around the screen throwing bombs at you. Often, minibosses allow you to swallow them after you drain them of their energy. Sometimes, these abilities are unique like the hammer ability. finally, there are world bosses. There are generally only one of them, but defeating them can take a fair amount of effort. These enemies include a burrowing mining robot, a storm cloud with an eye, the sun and moon that does a tag-team approach against you, and a painter on roller skates that paints enemies that come alive and attack you.

For me, the hardest enemy to defeat would have to be the first form of the final boss. You have to fly around with the star rod and defeat a sphere that shoots energy at you. While this isn’t too terribly difficult in and of itself, you have a limited amount of time before you crash into the ground. In fact, the only way I find this boss beatable is with the turbo button a I can’t quite aim and mash the attack button fast enough to drain the bosses energy in time. Strangely, the final bosses final form is not that difficult.

One interesting Easter egg I found in this game is that one of the later levels is a reference to the Gameboy version. Everything is back in black and white and contains the overdriven music featured in the gameboy. You wander through a sample of a number of the environments found in the original Gameboy version, so I thought that was a neat thing to add to this game.

Another interesting feature is the fact that you basically have an unlimited number of continues. I stopped trying to die after 5 continues, so I assume that there is an unlimited number of them. For each continue, you can either select continue or end game. Either option you choose, you get a quick little animation of Kirby interacting with a floating gloved hand. I thought the end game one where Kirby swallows the floating glove was quite amusing. While it doesn’t sound like there’s any real penalty for running out of free lives, if you choose to continue, you basically have all of your points reset to zero. So, if you’re after getting a really good score, try not to lose all of your lives.

Generally speaking, I thought this was a great game to play through. There is a nice difficulty curve involved where the beginning levels were very simple while the later levels can be quite challenging. The combined effect is that the game is approachable to beginners can offers something of interest to more experienced players. Great balance in difficulty can be found here. The game is also very nicely addicting as I found myself going back and playing it again just for kicks. For those looking to clean house in this game, there’s also a nice percentage indicator that points out how much of the game you’ve actually completed after you beat the game. If you beat the game, you’ll also be able to try the three minigames found in this game available in three difficulties as well. This, I found, helps boost the replay value as you can play this game in many different and interesting ways.

The graphics were very nicely done. There are numerous enemies to be found. There are lots of different environments to be had. There’s a tropical environment, space environment, grassy plains environments, a sunset environment, an icey environment and a whole lot more. All of these environments are really nicely textured. There’s also a nice amount of effects to be had like when a new level is revealed or when you shoot a bomb icon that blasts away chunks of the environment (often revealing secrets). I really can’t think of anything wrong with the graphics of this game.

The audio was also very nicely done. It brought back tunes from the previous game that works really well and introduced some new tunes that worked incredibly well. There was also a huge variety of sound effects that really helped make this game pop. Can’t think of anything to complain about in this area of the game.

The only frustrating part about this game is that sometimes the controls aren’t as responsive as you would like. Sometimes, it seems that there is a slight delay before Kirby obeys a command. sometimes, this is nothing, sometimes, you find yourself falling to a pit and dying as a result. The only other complaint I have of this game is that the game can slow down a little whenever there is a large number of enemies on screen. That’s when the game grinds a little bit, but this doesn’t happen that often I found.

Overall, this was an extremely well put together game. If you want to find a really good side scrolling game on the NES, I would highly recommend this game. An excellent game all around.

Overall

Furthest point in game: Beat game with 1.4 million points.

General gameplay: 23/25
Replay value: 10/10
Graphics: 10/10
Audio: 5/5

Overall rating: 96%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85



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