Six great Kirby games, some new content, and a really cool museum make this a worthy collection.
Kirby’s Dream Collection likely holds the distinction of being Nintendo’s last Wii release in North America. With nothing else on the horizon, Kirby’s 20th anniversary package is likely the true last story (Sorry, The Last Story) for Nintendo’s fifth home console. Fortunately, there is a lot more love in this game than in Mario’s 25th anniversary Wii release, and if you’re a fan of Kirby, this might be worth picking up.
The collection comes with six Kirby titles, starting with his Game Boy debut in 1992 and going all the way up to the 2000 release of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Each of these games has its merits and place in Kirby history. For me, this collection reminded me why I love Kirby Super Star and Kirby 64, and also made me finally play and adore Kirby’s Dream Land 3, which has an absolutely fantastic art style.
Kirby’s Dream Land, the 1992 debut, is very basic, as Kirby can’t even copy abilities, but it is an entertaining game. However, in 2012, it is more of a historical curiosity than anything else. You can check out our recommendation of the 3DS Virtual Console release of the game for more info.
Kirby’s Adventure, the 1993 NES release, holds up very well. This is the game where Kirby came together as a character. There is a world map to explore packed with fun mini-games, and for the first time, Kirby can copy the abilities of his enemies. However, if you own a 3DS, I’d recommend you play the 3D Classics version of this game. You can also check out our recommendation for the game on Wii Virtual Console.
Kirby’s Dream Land 2 is the Game Boy follow-up to the original game, and came out in 1995. It brings most of the additions that the NES game brought to the table, and also adds Kirby’s animal friends, which add variety to the gameplay. As of posting, this game has yet to come to 3DS Virtual Console in North America (though it is available in Europe and Japan).
Kirby Super Star is the first mainline Super Nintendo release for the pink puffball, coming out in 1996. It contains eight different games, though some are very short. Still, it contains a wealth of variety with the cinematic Revenge of Meta Knight, the explorative Great Cave Offensive, and the excellent Milky Way Wishes. You can check out our Wii Virtual Console recommendation for more details.
The last Super Nintendo adventure for Kirby is Kirby’s Dream Land 3, which I had never played before this compilation. It was a revelation. It doesn’t quite have the complexity of Super Star, but as a follow-up to the Game Boy games, it is fantastic. Of special note is the fantastic art style, which is unlike anything I have ever seen on a Super Nintendo (Yoshi’s Island would be the closest comparison). Check out our Wii Virtual Console recommendation for more information.
The final playable game in the collection is Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. This game was somewhat maligned at release, but I have very fond memories of it. It’s simple, just like most Kirby games, but the ability combo system is a great innovation, and there is a lot of meat for completionists. The multiplayer mode is also intact, and features a fun arena mode that is still fun to this day. Peep our Wii Virtual Console recommendation for some more details.
There is a weird saving quirk to the games, though. In order to save, you have to press the Home button and then reset the game. It reveals that these games are basically just Virtual Console games on a disc, and also makes for a really unresponsive and unclear save system.
In addition to the six games, Kirby’s Dream Collection features a series of challenge stages based on Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, the recent Wii release. The stages each focus on one ability, and while the experience isn’t that long, there is a fun high score element to the mode as you try to defeat all the enemies and collect all the coins to get the highest score in the quickest amount of time. The challenge stages are a worthy addition, and truly cap off the whole package, making it more than just a bunch of old games.
The museum, which features fun historical context for Kirby’s 20-year life, is fun to explore once or twice. You can view every Kirby game’s box art, as well as watch a video that highlights what the game was about. Fans of the Kirby anime can even watch three episodes of the show. The better Kirby history is detailed in the included book, which features a ton of factoids about the character’s development over the years. Did you know there was talk of a rhythm mini-game in Kirby 64 that featured Kirby in a band with King Dedede? I sure didn’t, and I feel my life is better for knowing that.
The included soundtrack features 45 songs, with 42 of them being a bit of a chronological journey through (almost) every Kirby game. The final three songs aren’t from any games; instead they are original compositions from HAL Laboratory’s sound team. “Electro Kirby” is a techno song, “Gourmet Race to Green Greens” is an orchestral song, and “Dream A New Dream For Tomorrow” is a gentle song that appears to look towards Kirby’s future by being subdued and pensive.
Kirby’s Dream Collection is a fine tribute to Kirby’s 20-year history. Anyone who missed a chunk of his old outings, or just has an urge to replay them all, should definitely pick up this package. If you own all the games on Virtual Console on Wii or 3DS, it is a little harder to recommend, but if you don’t, Kirby’s Dream Collection is totally worth playing to experience Kirby’s old games and get a taste of what he’s doing now.