Think Pink! Day 5: Double Dose of Awesome
Posted by Captain K
Think Pink! is a week long tribute to the pink puff we all know as Kirby. In honor of Kirby’s new game Kirby’s Epic Yarn, every day this week we’ll be taking a look at a different set of his adventures. From Dream Land to amazing mirrors, golf to pinball, canvas to knitting, we will celebrating every single one of Kirby’s games. Enjoy!
In today’s edition, we will be looking at two of my favorite games in the series. While neither one started life as a Kirby title, they both found themselves retrofitted with our hero’s likeness and environments. Nintendo would come to make a habit of this practice to varying levels of success, but these two games came up with some fantastic results. Even though they were advertised on the same bill, they are two very different games and, coming from one of the best eras in gaming history, they had a lot to live up to. The Super NES had hit its stride, the Sega Genesis was coming towards the end of its cycle, and great games were coming out for both consoles. There certainly was a fierce rivalry between these camps, but in the long run it didn’t really matter which system you had as both saw their share of hits. Of course in the case of this next title, that statement is more true than usual.
Platform: Super NES
Release: April 25, 1995
Developer: Compile Games
The story of Kirby’s Avalanche is a strange one. With the advent of Tetris, the puzzle genre had caught on in the United States and publishers were always looking for that next puzzle game sensation. A series of puzzlers named Puyo Puyo had become quite popular in Japan, and the two major industry players at the time wanted the latest in franchise, Super Puyo Puyo, to appear on their console. Both Nintendo and Sega turned to Compile Games to port the title for them, but instead of giving either one the exclusive, both companies were granted their own ports of the exact same game. Sega used the villains from its popular Sonic the Hedgehog franchise to create Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, while Nintendo turned to HAL Laboratory to co-create Kirby’s Avalanche.
The object of the game is to connect 4 colored blobs and make them vanish. If you can create chain reactions, gray “boulders” will fall in your opponent’s well. The first player to fill the other’s screen wins and gets to move on to the next challenger. The Puyo Puyo series is typically very fun and this entry is no different. It’s particularly enjoyable when played with a friend, as bouts between two skilled players can get very intense. Still, the single player campaign offers plenty on its own. The difficulty curve is tough but fair, and there is a very respectable number of modes and opponents to keep you busy. While little of the game’s quality can be credited to the Kirby license, it does bring with it the music and artwork the series is known for. It’s nice to see these characters animated between matches, even if it is a little off-putting to see Kirby talking so much. Be warned: there is an abundance of bad puns in the writing! Still, this game gets one my highest recommendations, especially if you like puzzle games.
Kirby’s Dream Course
Platform: Super NES
Release: February 1, 1995
Developer: HAL Laboratory
During Nintendo’s first heyday as market leader, they would regularly include really cool promotional posters with their games. I used to do my best to collect all of the titles on said posters, as they all looked so cool. When I first got my copy of Mario Paint for the Super NES, I quickly opened the poster to check for new games. To my surprise, there was only one I didn’t already own, Special Tee Shot. I kept my eyes open for the game, but as this was before the time of the internet, it was very difficult to determine whether or not it had been released. A year or so later, I came across Kirby’s Dream Course and when I looked at the back of the box I immediately knew what had happened. Special Tee Shot had been repurposed as a Kirby title and I couldn’t have been happier.
Kirby’s Dream course was essentially HAL’s take on miniature golf. The object of the game was once again to use Kirby as your ball, this time attempting to get him into a hole in as few strokes as possible. Each play field was littered with traps and enemies. Kirby would have to hit these enemies in order to defeat them and the last one left would turn into the hole. The challenge came from the fact that you had very little interaction with Kirby after you made your shot. Each stroke where you hit a baddie wouldn’t cost you anything, but if you missed you would lose health. Hazards also needed to be avoided, and they would range from golf staples like sand traps and water, to some that were more Kirby themed like spiky Gordos and the reoccurring cloud boss Kracko. You weren’t completely defenseless though, as you could still gain your trademark powers from certain enemies. These abilities became more strategic than ever as they could be used to destroy obstacles, freeze water, and stop yourself short when going too fast.
Second only to the fantastic Kirby’s Adventure, this is my favorite Kirby game. On its own, it has some of the most creative level design I’ve ever seen, the controls are intuitive, and there are so many ways to finish each course its mind-boggling. As a Kirby game, it has one of the sharpest visual styles this side of Super Star and, in my opinion, the best soundtrack in the franchise. On the surface, the game is a fun and challenging experience, but once you realize that each course is really an elaborate puzzle, it takes on a life of its own. To my knowledge, it is possible to get a hole-in-one on almost every course. That fact alone can make this game very addictive, but if you can manage to earn gold medals on each course, you open up an entire new set of bonus courses. Then there’s the multiplayer mode where 2 players compete to collect the most stars before finishing a course. With the ability to use Kirby’s powers on one another, in addition to stealing each other’s points, these games can get very heated. The bottom line is that this game provides an extremely generous amount of content, and given its price of a whole $8 on Wii’s Virtual Console, this is a game few should pass up.
There are only 2 days left in our week long tribute to Kirby and tomorrow is a big one. When we return we’ll be looking at the oddities the series has to offer. Kirby will tilt ‘n tumble, ride the air, stack some stars, and even punch a hedgehog, but will these games add up to anything? Come back soon to find out.