Fan Thoughts

A Few Critical Flaws

I love the Kirby series. Ever since playing Adventure of my school's computer in 2002 and getting Nightmare in Dream Land for GBA in 2003, it's the only series to consistently surpass my original favorite series of Sonic. I've played all the main games, a solid number of the side games, watched the anime multiple times in both English and Japanese, the series has been a huge part of my life and I don't think I'll be leaving it behind anytime soon.

All that said, I'd be lying (or more likely joking) if I said that the series was totally perfect. In particular, there are two games, one main game and one side game, that I actually quite dislike, and on this thought I'm gonna discuss which ones they are and why I think they fall short.

So for the side game, let me tell you about another game real quick. Its called Scribblenauts and, much like this side game, it is on the DS. Scirbblenauts had a unique concept where the player was given the ability to spawn basically any real-life object to solve a variety of puzzles. When it was released it was given much praise, but there was only one element that was consistently panned. The controls. Scribblenauts was entirely controlled through the DS's touch screen, and that included the main character, Maxwell's, movement. In a 2D platforming environment one would need to tap on the screen where one wanted Maxwell to go, then he would automatically walk there. Now, in an isometric 3D game like Zelda where you generally have free movement across the X and Y axis, this kind of control scheme is already annoying, but feasible. In a 2D environment? When you have to obey gravity? Even going over ledges or jumping over basic pits can be a hassle. Fortunately, Scribblenauts is mostly a puzzle game, so the lackluster control scheme didn't hurt it too bad, and they fixed this issue in the sequels. I mean, imagine what a nightmare it would be if someone made a game with that kind of control scheme and made it an action platformer!

Oh wait, you don't need to imagine it, it exists and its called Kirby Mass Attack.

Honestly at this point I don't feel like I need to say much else. The controls make the game inherently frustrating to play, and generally drained my will to play the core experience. The aesthetics were great, the music was cool, cameos from the Squeak Squad and even some anime characters in the minigames were nice. Necrodeus is a cool villain. It even had a slew of fun minigames that were about 1,000,000 times better than the core game. However, none of that really matters when the core game is so severely bogged down by its control scheme. It becomes tedious, tiring, I never want to replay any levels, and even doing that much can be difficult sometimes as many levels require you to have a certain number of Kirbies to enter them at all. And challenges that require you to have a low number of Kirbies? Good luck making that happen naturally. It just feels like a mess the whole way through.

So, for Mass Attack I feel like I'll get a decent number of people to agree with me. Its probably the least liked Kirby game I've seen, even if it does have its supporters. However, for this next one I feel like I'm going to get a few complaints.

Out of the main games, the one I enjoy the least is Return to Dreamland.

Much like Mass Attack, it has a lot of good points. Aesthetic and music are on point, having different characters for multiplayer is cool, heck this is probably the best example of how to do four player co-op in a platforming game. Magolor is pretty cool, Marx's presence was weak in Super Star, and he just sort of showed up at the end out of nowhere, and Magolor is how to present Marx's plotline correctly, with excellent buildup and payoff, especially if the player talked to him throughout the game. The game's main gimmick of the super abilities was really flashy, and the game as a whole presented a decent number of challenging portions, especially the Extra Mode bosses. On a first playthrough, the game seems practically like a perfect entry in the series. Heck, you can see my reaction to a first playthrough since I did that as a blind LP (warning, the LP is really old and I made quite a few dumb decisions in regards to recording, but it does still make the point clear that a first playthrough is solid and fun.)

But that's the key, it seems perfect on a first playthrough.

I love replaying Kirby games. I'll go through levels over and over and over again using copy abilities in different places and in different ways. Even more mediocre entries in the series like Squeak Squad I've played a dozen times over. It's a special element in the Kirby series, and its something that Return to Dreamland completely screws up. When trying to play the game in a unique manner, it feels wrong. Practically every section starts off by giving you an ability or two, and then building the next part of the level around you having those specific abilities. If you decide not to use those abilities, chances are you'll miss out on collectibles, won't be able to utilize the terrain effectively, and just generally it feels like the level design starts nagging me. "Hey, buddy, here's the Leaf ability, go nuts!" "Nah man, I think I want to use the Wing ability this time." "...oh... so... how about that Leaf ability?" "Nah man, not this time." "Look at these enemies, wouldn't they be just perfect to take out with the Leaf ability?" "No, dude, not right now." "Oh, but how about this? A puzzle specifically designed JUST for the Leaf ability with a collectible on the other side!" "Would you stop? I just want to use Wing in peace." "Oh, oh, how about this section? We set up this miniboss so that you could defeat it super fast with Leaf!"

Most Kirby games have sections like this here and there, but for Return to Dreamland it feels like the entire game was designed this way. This is epitomized in the super ability sections. If you use a super ability, whatever power you had beforehand is lost. If you don't use a super ability? Sure, its possible to go through the various sections without them, but it feels incredibly wrong. It tends to end up being more tedious than actually difficult, long stretches of land without anything for one to really do at that point. This level design paradigm kills any chance at replaying the game for me. I'll always say I had a blast on the first playthrough, but any playthrough after has just gotten more and more dull, which is the exact opposite of what happens with literally any other entry in the series for me.

So, there you go, my two least favorite Kirby games. Even if I don't like them as much as the others, they still do have at least some positive qualities in there. However, a few key elements kept both of these games from being enjoyable for me. Just goes to show how something so small can cause a large reaction.

Return to the Fan Thoughts Main Page.

Back to the Rainbow Resort main page.

Last Updated - July 17th, 2017