animefringe january 2003 / reviews

Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland
Format: Game Boy Advance
Production: Nintendo / HAL Labs
Comments: Nightmare in Dreamland isn't a spectacular new journey, but it's a fun ride with Kirby and company.
Animefringe Reviews:
Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland

Who could be unfamiliar with Nintendo (well, really HAL Lab's) pink marshmallow? He's had a number of games, starting with the 1992 Kirby's Dreamland and has since appeared on the Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and on the Gamecube in Smash Bros: Melee. It seems impossible that any Nintendo fan could have missed any of Kirby's adventures. However, Kirby's 1993 Kirby's Adventure tends to be overlooked, as it came out on the cusp of the 16-bit revolution. That really is a shame, as the game was a delight. Worry not, though; Nintendo is offering an upgraded Kirby's Adventure on the Gameboy Advance as Kirby's Nightmare in Dreamland.

Though the game originally appeared on the Nintendo, you wouldn't know it from the excellent graphics. They are bright and pop off the screen. In fact, Nightmare's graphics are only rivaled by the new Zelda and Super Mario Advance 3 on the GBA. In a cute graphical touch, Kirby wears the hats of the powers he assumes (something he's been doing for quite some time in previous games, but not available on the Nintendo original) instead a large status bar at the bottom of the screen which informed you of your current power.

The gameplay retains the magic of adventure games of old. In Dreamland, King DeDeDe has stolen the Star Rod and it's Kirby's job to get it back and put it on top of the Fountain of Dreams (both the rod and the Fountain of Dreams were featured in Smash Bros: Melee). Nightmare in Dreamland is your standard platformer, for the most part. Kirby bounces like a pinball from level to level, enemy to enemy. Kirby can swallow his enemies, spit them out, float, and basically run and jump his way through each stage. However, when he swallows an enemy, he has the option of taking their power if they have any to offer. Some don't, but most of the enemies Kirby will meet can give him a special power. The special powers include fire breath, a sword, boomerangs, and approximately 21 other items, some of which can be combined. Although these abilities aren't usually necessary for finishing a level, they do allow Kirby to open up secret areas and finish off baddies more easily. Throughout the game in fact, it's quite easy to run through a level, but this is done at the cost of missing the secrets.

In his journey, Kirby will also come across a number of mini games in Dreamland. These games are different from the ones in the original Kirby's Adventure. They all look better and are usually a bit more fun. Like the secrets within the levels, none of the mini games are a requirement, but successfully competing against other Kirbys in them will earn our pink hero extra lives.

One major complaint with Nightmare in Dreamland is its ease. Kirby has traditionally been aimed at younger gamers, and this is apparent in Nightmare; a veteran gamer will easily blow through the game. Finishing it does however unlock a harder mode and beating that unlocks some secrets. The question is, will the hardcore gamer go through Nightmare's more difficult setting? Additionally, Nightmare plays like the standard Mario game; in terms of originality, the game doesn't compare well with the other Nintendo Gameboy Advance re-releases, Mario Advance 3 and Zelda: A Link to the Past.

Like Zelda: A Link to the Past, Nightmare in Dreamland also features a multiplayer aspect. The mini games can be played with up to four people and one cartridge (and of course, a GBA link cable). When everyone has a cartridge, multiple Kirby's can go through the levels of Dreamland.

Overall, Nightmare in Dreamland is an extremely cute, fun little game. It's not as long or original as Mario Advance 3 or Zelda: A Link to the Past, but it is a blast to play, especially if you missed out on Kirby's Adventure the first time around. It's not electronic Shakespeare, but it's a fun ride.