The pink puffball still packs a punch

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since I first put Kirby’s Dream Land into my Game Boy and bounced the pink puffball—though he appeared more white on the limited color palette of the handheld—around Green Greens. With almost two dozen more starring roles across all of Nintendo’s platforms since then—and, of course, a couple of smaller roles in games like Super Smash Bros.—few other gaming icons are as deserving of their own celebratory collector’s edition.

Kirby’s Dream Collection compiles six of Kirby’s earliest and most iconic titles in Kirby’s Dream Land (Game Boy), Kirby’s Adventure (NES), Kirby’s Dream Land 2 (Game Boy), Kirby Super Star (SNES), Kirby’s Dream Land 3 (SNES), and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64) in their completely original versions. The package also comes with a detailed art book highlighting Kirby’s designs over the past two decades; a 45-track, 60-minute-long music CD with original and remastered tracks from all of Kirby’s adventures, and three episodes of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, the Saturday-morning cartoon Kirby starred in for 100 episodes.

Now, the skeptic would say that Nintendo simply just slapped some ROMs onto a disc in order to capitalize on Kirby’s anniversary, and they wouldn’t be completely wrong. Nintendo fanboys would say that Nintendo’s simply trying to keep the experiences authentic and preserve the classic gameplay. And they wouldn’t be wrong, either. But I know that, personally I would’ve loved some updated graphics or even some color in the Game Boy entries—and for the games to completely fit my 42-inch TV screen.

The lack of new polish on these older titles also hurts the collection’s appeal to younger gamers who may be less familiar with Kirby and want to learn about this classic gaming protagonist. Don’t worry—this won’t turn into a “back in my day!” review—but I’m sure younger gamers’ heads will explode at the concept of playing a game that looked like the original Kirby’s Dream Land compared to the kind of graphical output they may be used to with modern systems.

Now, just because the aesthetics of these classic games don’t enter the modern era in any way doesn’t mean the platforming and puzzle action don’t translate. The NES and Game Boy games feel just as tight as they did two decades ago, and they translate perfectly to the Wiimote. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the later games, especially Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, actually felt better than I remembered with the simple new Wiimote layout. Though, maybe it’s just that the Wiimote feels better in my hands than the N64 controller did.

Aside from the six original games, Kirby’s Dream Collection also features an interactive timeline showing key dates in Kirby history as well as a bevy of new challenge levels inspired by his most recent Wii adventure, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land. These unique levels have an old-school arcade feel as you specialize in one of Kirby’s powers, whether it’s Beam, Sword, Spear—or one of the many others featured in that game—and attempt to clear the level and set a high score while also beating the time limit. As you set certain scores in each level, you’ll then unlock the right to attempt other, more-difficult-to-wield abilities.

If you’re a big Kirby fan and grew up with him like I did, this is a nice total package. The games don’t completely stand the test of time, but this offers older gamers a nice chance to reminisce and see how far we’ve come. Plus, considering the $39.99 price tag and all the extra features the package comes with, Kirby’s Dream Collection reminds us that’s it OK to think pink every now and again.

SUMMARY: Not all of the games in this classic collection stand the full test of time, but for die-hard Kirby fans, the entire package is more than worth the price tag.

  • THE GOOD: Six games, an hour of music, an art book, and three cartoons makes this a sweet package.
  • THE BAD: No graphical enhancement whatsoever—really just a bunch of ROMs.
  • THE UGLY: You ever stop to think about what Kirby’s enemies must go through when they get eaten?

SCORE: 8.0

Kirby’s Dream Collection: Special Edition is a Wii exclusive.