Kirby is one of those on the Nintendo roster that seems to perpetually play second fiddle to a certain plumber and his slightly simpler, more famous brand of platforming. The bulbous pink… thing has often been used by HAL Laboratory and Nintendo to explore the more esoteric nature of Nintendo’s platforms with diverse gameplay mechanics. Now Kirby is making a kind of return to his roots with Kirby’s Adventure Wii and it yields a largely enjoyable, if a little generic, experience.[drop]This game was released in North America back in October under another name – Kirby’s Return to Dreamland. This bizarre and confusing renaming habit, not to mention the frustrating disparity in release schedules with US dates, is something Nintendo of Europe should be embarrassed by. The North American title is perhaps more indicative of the return to core gameplay values – Kirby’s Dreamland was the very first Kirby game and there are a few nods to it here, such as the first level boss – but Kirby’s second outing, Kirby’s Adventure, was where he found his Copy Ability which features so integrally to this new adventure.
For the uninitiated: Kirby can inhale many of his enemies and choose to adopt, or copy, their abilities. He can also inhale certain inanimate objects and spit them out at velocity to combat enemies or obstructions. This opens up a world of possibilities for our protagonist and massively augments his own floating, jumping and sliding abilities.
Kirby can become a wizard with a beam-emitting wand, a ninja with shuriken and katana, a “fighter” with hadouken and dragon punches and multitudinous other forms with a huge range of differing abilities from fire to ice, tornadoes to stone. Sometimes certain sections require particular abilities in order to get to the bonuses or secrets too, you’ll have to come back for those if you want the 100 per cent completion rate.
The animation and text-led narrative is not going to win any awards for its complexity or delivery but it serves enough of a purpose to compel the player and give basic justification for chasing around various areas of Planet Popstar (yes, that’s where Kirby lives) and beyond. A stranger, named Magolor, has crash landed his ship and five key components are scattered around the landscape. Kirby and friends must find them and return them to be reattached so that they can be shown Magolor’s home planet.
You can have up to three extra players joining in, with each one using up “one Kirby” – the game’s cute way of telling you that all four players draw from the same pool of lives. Collected stars along the way, in that classic platformer way, accumulate into a “1up” for every 100 you collect. This shouldn’t be much of a concern though — the game is incredibly easy, with only one or two boss battles or a catastrophic lapse in attention causing any risk of death.[drop2]There are also a number of Energy Spheres on each stage of each level, many hidden away behind secret doors and portals. Collecting these Energy Spheres will unlock a couple of extra mini games and some bonus challenge areas back at the central world hub on Magolor’s ship. The mini games are a neat little distraction but probably won’t cause you to sink much time into them until you’ve finished with the rest of the game.
Technically, Kirby’s Adventure Wii is solid enough: a typical cutesy art style with plinky background music and suitably 16-bit styled sound effects. Unfortunately, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, had a much more endearing art style and some larger-scale ideas so this one feels very old fashioned in comparison. Likewise, Donkey Kong Country brought more imagination and a much more polished look. Kirby’s Wii Adventure is a solid enough 2D platform game but after last year’s exceptional Kirby outing, not to mention recent releases in this same genre like Rayman Origins, it just doesn’t quite do enough to stand out.
- Solid platforming.
- Nice range of abilities.
- Multiplayer can be fun and frantic.
- Basic look and feel.
- Nothing new and a lack of real imagination.
- Feels like it is rushed to release to make up the numbers this Christmas.
Kirby’s Adventure Wii feels very much like what it is: a game that was initially planned for the Gamecube in 2005 and after many years on the shelf has been lifted down, dusted off and repurposed for this late-in-the-lifecycle appearance on the Wii. This is a shame as it is, at its core, a quality side scrolling platform game. The copy abilities add some light tactical aspects as well as keeping it all interesting and the multiplayer can be frantic, fun and engaging. It’s just unfortunate that Kirby’s Adventure seems rushed to fill a gap in the holiday release schedule when it could have been significantly more enticing if it had been given a little more love and attention.