Kirby: the Hardcore Analysis
Kirby has a new game where he gets to pilot his own robot. Which was awesome. But fans of this franchise would be aware that this franchise has been around for a fairly long time. In 1992, Kirby's Dream Land was developed for the Game Boy. This was a fairly simple game meant for younger children. However, later games were able to add a little something that made Kirby a more interesting character. The first game, Kirby's Dream Land, gave Kirby his basic floating and eating abilities. Games like the 200 Nintendo 64 game Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards added not only Kirby's power copying abilities, but introduced the feature of adding exclusive gimmicks for all of Kirby's subsequent games. And in one of the most recent games, like the 2011 game Kirby's Return to Dream Land utilized the Nintendo Wii's improved capabilities compared to the Nintendo 64 to make the game more challenging and entertaining at the same time. Created in 1992 by Masahiro Sakurai, the Kirby franchise has had its fair share of odd characters over the years. However, the enjoyable environments, the simple to follow story, and the memorable fights has made Kirby an enjoyable game for both new and old gamers.
Kirby's Dream Land
The original Kirby's Dream Land game came out when the original Game Boy was already being played. As a result, Kirby's iconic pink coloration was not included. Even on the cover of the box. The story of this game was also very simplistic. The player played Kirby. Kirby was a small, gray round creature who fight enemies or move objects by eating them. And deciding whether or not that enemy or object could immediately be used as a projectile. Or use a special item to destroy several enemies at once. Movement was also somewhat simple. Other than the standard walking, jumping, and crouching, Kirby also had the additional ability to fly in the air. This allowed for more variety to how Kirby's Dream Land could be played.
As this video from BrainScratch Commentaries displayed, this game could be considered short, easy, and black-and-white. Other than make references to the English dub for an old Kirby cartoon, this group also acknowledged how this game did not have one of Kirby's more unique abilities. Which made Kirby's Dream Land somewhat boring. Especially for experienced players. Although, the fact that Kirby's Dream Land was an early Game Boy game and that its creator wanted a game that beginners could complete, the shortness of this installment makes sense. This might also be justified because Nintendo was most likely was being careful about how to market Kirby as a franchise. This being a new character at the time, Kirby did not possess the popularity of Mario. But when there are bosses like a giant tree whose fruit could be used against it, Kirby's Dream Land had some memorable moments.
Other than memorable boss fights, some of the enemies were memorable in their own light. The interesting thing about Kirby's Dream Land was that all of the enemies that appeared in this first game have made returns in later games, with only minor changes to their bodies. They have all remained more or less the same for all of the Kirby franchise. Including the final boss of Kirby's Dream Land King Dedede, who was the main enemy of this game. And this game only.
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
The Nintendo 64 was Nintendo's first attempt at bringing its characters into the third-dimension. Mario got a game that was three-dimensional, Donkey Kong got a game that was three-dimensional, and in 2000 Kirby got to go into the third-dimension with the game Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Compared to Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards had more of Kirby's well-known abilities, but with an interesting gimmick. This power, of course, was Kirby's ability to eat an enemy and get its power to augment his own. For example, if Kirby ate an enemy that was on fire, he would gain the ability to breath fire or turn into a fireball. The gimmick of this game was that Kirby could mix-and-match two different abilities to gain an even more powerful ability. Which would be useful for the plot of this game.
Unlike Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards actually had a story. Basically some evil force was attacking some planet full of fairies. One fairy escaped, and Kirby volunteers to go on another adventure. Or, as an interpretation that references Kirby's eating abilities, go on a genocidal rampage. For a change of pace Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards made it so that Kirby could not float whenever he wanted. However, to compensate, Kirby gained the ability to not only augment himself with new abilities, but also combine two different powers and gain something new. One example would be to combine Kirby's fire power with a cutter power to give Kirby a giant sword. Another change here compared to Kirby's Dream Land was the inclusion of Kirby's enemy King Dedede. While he was a jerk when the player first met him, King Dedede was an ally. He was even playable during some parts.
As for interesting powers Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards got very creative. Other than the aforementioned flaming sword ability, Kirby had even more unique abilities in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Like a lightsaber. As shown in the above video, combing a cutting ability with an electricity ability gave Kirby to pull out a double-ended lightsaber to attack enemies. Naturally BrainScratch Commentaries made jokes about how overpowered this particular power was. And made a note about how this game came out after Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.
Another aspect that was introduced in later entries of the Kirby franchise were nightmarish bosses. See, Kirby as the protagonist of this series has a role of protecting Dream Land from enemies. And one of those enemies were the Dark Matter. Basically physically manifested nightmares. And as a tone shift to acknowledge the nightmarish aspects of Kirby's final bosses, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards made this fight different compared to other boss fights. Shooting the boss caused it to bleed, the boss arena and boss itself looked aesthetically disturbing, and its angelic appearance was unnerving.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land
One fascinating aspect about the Kirby franchise was how different markets portrayed the character. As seen in the Japanese box art of Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby looked like his usual happy self as a way to welcome people who wanted to play a fun game. The American market marketed the Kirby franchise somewhat differently. As seen below, the American box art for Kirby's Return to Dream Land has him using the gimmick power of this game and preparing for a fight. This change in the box art could be explained fairly simply. In America most of the video games that were popular in that area were games that had some level of violence. Nintendo, noticing the popularity of these violent game, most likely altered the box art for American consumers so that the buyer would be notified that, yes, there would be fighting in this Kirby game.
At this point Kirby's Return to Deam Land did things that were fairly new compared to its predecessors. First and foremost was the inclusion of three additional players thanks to the Nintendo Wii's improved system. In this video the four-player was shown with the members of BrainScratch Commentaries. One good aspect about the multiplayer function was that certain characters could now complete puzzles that required specific powers Kirby did not possess. One negative aspect was that the screen became cluttered at times. Another new aspect about this game were the Super Abilities. Basically more powerful versions of older powers that had the ability to obliterate any enemy and certain terrain on-screen. Which made clearing levels and finding hidden collectibles easier.
The Kirby franchise has made some remarkable changes compared to its days in Kirby's Dream Land. Mostly because with all of the new hardware that Nintendo kept producing, the Kirby franchise had to find new ways to appeal to new consumers. Which it did. Even to this day.