Review: Kirby’s Dream Land (Gameboy)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out the first Kirby game – Kirby’s Dream Land. We find out if this famous adventure serious was of to a good start on the gameboy.

This particular game was released in 1992 and would kick off a rather long lasting series that continues to this day.

The story of this game is that King Dedede has stolen all of the food in Dream Land. Kirby’s mission is to find Dedede and take back all of the food for the other residents of Dream Land.

If you’ve played other Kirby games such as one that was released on the SNES, NES, or the N64, you’ll be used to the idea of being able to copy an enemies ability by inhaling and swallowing them. This game either doesn’t contain this feature prominently or doesn’t contain it at all. Swallowing enemies like Sir Kibble will not yield a cutter ability in this game.

Instead, abilities more frequently appear in the form of items Kirby can swallow. Some are abilities that consist of Kirby swallowing and spitting out items such as the bomb (a blast that passes through multiple enemies until it flies off screen) or the microphone (destroys all enemies on screen). Other abilities are simply collected and expire after a certain period of time. The dish of food allows Kirby to breathe fire (is cancelled early if you fall into water). The lime-like item allows Kirby to stay inflated and blow out unlimited puffs of air. Of course, the most famous item pickup is the lollypop like item with the star which allows Kirby to have invulnerability.

There are many enemies found in this game including the monster with the broom, the bird-like enemy, and the wandering mushroom enemy. There’s a few invulnerable enemies such as the floating spikey enemy and the cannon. Bosses include the Lolo-like characters that push blocks, the giant tree, and, of course King Dedede.

Kirby can obtain health through the energy bottle (three pieces of health) or the tomato (full health). Additionally, Kirby can find the ever-so-rare 1Up icon that allows Kirby to gain a level.

While Kirby’s abilities are more limited in scope compared to later games, the default abilities are mostly there. You can inhale an enemy and spit out a star that damages or kills enemies. You can tap up to fly. Unfortunately, if you’re underwater, you can’t really attack at all, so enemy avoidance is key to these areas.

Your health bar is denoted below in the information box along the bottom of the screen. You are allotted a maximum of 6 hits, though some enemies can take away multiple dots of health as well. When you encounter a boss, their health will be along side yours (be warned that not all of them are limited to 6 hits).

Additionally, if you beat the game, you are given the option to try a more difficult version of the game which features both new enemies, altered enemies, and, of course, more spikey enemies throughout to make life more difficult.

As a standalone game, this wasn’t a bad game. There was seemingly the right amount of free lives given at the beginning. If you run out of free lives, you have the option of using a continue with the famous floating glove. There’s plenty of things and obstacles to encounter. I felt that the abilities seem somewhat limited though and only infrequently appear.

Graphically, I felt that this game was quite good. The screen space can be an issue for this game, but I never felt that there was any limitations here. All the enemies were quite clear for a handheld with limited display capabilities (if things move too fast, they tend to get obscured). The only issue is later when you try the challenging level and some enemies start moving a little too quickly for the Gameboy display to keep up. Beyond that, there wasn’t too much to complain about here.

The sound was surprisingly well done. There’s plenty of variety in the soundtrack which is impressive considering what limitations are found on the hardware. The sound effects were also nicely done.

Overall, this was a good game. Kirby does have some limitations to his abilities, but the game itself wasn’t bad. Since battery life can be somewhat limited at times, the length of the game was good. So, an enjoyable game all around.


Furthest point in game: Beat the game. Died on level 3 on the hard mode.

General gameplay: 19/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 9/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 78%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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