One of the true gems of the NES library, Kirby’s Adventure is a satisfying journey for all ages.
To Beat: Reach the ending credits
To Complete: Beat the game with 100% completion and complete all bonus modes
My Goal: Complete the game without finishing bonus games
What I Did: Complete the game without finishing bonus games
Played: 12/4/15 – 12/6/15
My Difficulty: 2/10
In 1993, the NES heyday was over and the system was slowly dwindling away in the public eye as the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo were busy duking it out for the top spot. However, Nintendo still had a few tricks up their sleeves for the NES and arguably the greatest game published by them in the late NES lifespan was Kirby’s Adventure, a sprawling, bright, and colorful platformer that pushed the NES to its limits. The game is great fun and very playable today even if it is a bit on the easy side.
Kirby’s Adventure is the second game in the Kirby series that would eventually go on to span dozens of fun and creative games. But in it’s humble beginnings, the series debuted with Kirby’s Dream Land released on the Game Boy in 1992. Even in the original, Kirby has a very interesting moveset. His main feature is the ability to suck up enemies temporarily and shoot them back out as a star to defeat other enemies. Kirby can also inhale air giving him the ability to fly anywhere, and even the air puff he breaths out can also hurt enemies. As a platformer, the ability of flight renders pits as vaguely minor threats instead of the instant death traps they are typically. In addition, the original game was very short containing only 5 levels, the last of which rehashes the previous 4 bosses and features a final showdown with King Dedede.
Kirby’s Adventure takes the base formula of the original and expands on it in an substantial way. The main enhancement here is that Kirby can swallow certain enemies and copy their abilities to use for himself, which would become the core tenet of the series. Kirby’s Adventure features 25 unique abilities in total and he can use these abilities to take out enemies and in some cases provide some additional mobility for navigating the levels. Some examples of these abilities include Fire which allows Kirby to blow fire on his enemies, Spark which surrounds Kirby with electric shocks, and Wheel which lets Kirby travel really quickly over rough terrain.
The game features seven different worlds and nearly 40 levels so there is a much larger amount of content here compared to the Game Boy game. Each world is basically a large room containing doors to the levels as well as access to additional bonuses opened up along the way, and each world ends in a boss fight. Each level ends with a little bonus game where Kirby must time his jump off a spring-loaded platform to reach bonuses that get better the higher you go. Some levels contain a large button that Kirby can hit to open up a new path to some of these extras, but these are optional and are there either for the completionist or some extra help. Many of them are cleverly hidden in alternate paths or behind hidden doors, and some require using a specific copy ability.
The extra doors on the world maps hold several different types of rooms to aid Kirby in his quest. Museums feature either one or two passive enemies that Kirby can swallow to gain the ability that enemy holds. Arenas contain a fight with one of the mini-boss enemies. You can lose a life here but if you win you can swallow the enemy to get the power and as a bonus you are awarded with a maximum tomato for full health. Warp Star Stations allow Kirby to skip to any world where the Warp Star Station is revealed, allowing Kirby to skip around the map much easier. There are also three types of bonus games. Crane Fever is just like the carnival game where you have to position a crane over a Kirby figure that awards extra lives if you can grab it properly. Egg Catcher features King Dedede tossing out a stream of both eggs and bombs. Kirby just sits there and can only open and close his mouth. The idea is to eat eggs and ignore bombs, letting them bounce of Kirby without effect. Quick Draw is just like the old Western showdown where you must draw your weapon quicker than your opponent to win and Kirby must take on 5 different opponents to get the best reward. Each of the bonus games also has three different difficulty levels. Whenever the game is done, the door is blocked off so each bonus can only be attempted once.
Kirby’s Adventure is one of the games I grew up owning and playing, so I can get through it easily and I didn’t really have that much trouble on my run. The game is pretty easy anyway considering Kirby’s flight ability, his large health bar, many opportunities for extra lives, and his wide array of powers. There are only a few spots that are just a bit tricky. The boss encounters can be difficult the first time through, and many of the secrets for 100% completion are tough to find, but just playing through the game to the end credits shouldn’t pose a problem for anyone familiar with NES games.
The game has a decent length from start to finish so I am thankful it has a save battery for recording progress along the way because this is the first game I’ve played for Take On The NES Library that took me longer than one day to work through. I am sure this will be the norm going forward! I was able to beat the game over the course of three days, and it could have been done in two but I stopped right at the end because I needed to go to bed. 🙂
Once the game is beaten, there are additional options available on the file select screen that aren’t required to beat the game but are necessary if you want to do everything. Each of the three bonus games can be played on each of the difficulty levels to get practice. Both Quick Draw and Egg Catcher are very timing sensitive and I find them unplayable on my LCD TV. I probably should have given them a try on my CRT but I didn’t bother to do it. I have always had trouble on Quick Draw and I’m inclined to believe that it isn’t possible to win on higher difficulties without cheating a little on the timing of your shot. I didn’t feel like trying to grind it out on what would be strictly luck and I think that’s fine.
The next additional option is Vs. Boss — a boss rush where you must defeat each of the main bosses in order on one life without any opportunity to heal up. This might be the hardest mode to clear in the game and I handled it extremely well, beating it on my first try. I only took two hits of damage on the Meta Knight fight and I have never been able to beat him without taking a hit anyway so that worked out well.
There is another option that only appears if you find all the hidden rooms for 100% completion in the main game and that is the Extra Game. It is a complete replay of Kirby’s Adventure with only three bars of max health instead of the normal six, all the bonus games are set to max difficulty, and there is no saving at all so you have to beat it all in one shot. Those are the only changes to the game that I noticed. I would not normally have had the time to attempt the Extra Game but I was able to have an evening of a couple hours of uninterrupted playtime, plus I stayed up a little bit late so I could make it all the way through. The hardest part for me on the Extra Game was the Meta Knight fight which took me 8-10 tries to make it through with the shortened health bar. I have the game almost completely figured out except for that one fight, but at least in this case I was able to grind my way through it with the surplus of extra lives I gathered. Winning the Extra Game unlocks the sound test so you can check out all the sweet songs and sound effects the game has to offer.
A neat little easter egg hidden in the game is called the HAL room. All it is is a room with the developer’s name HAL written out in blocks. Several Kirby games have a room like this hidden in the game and Kirby’s Adventure is the first game to have one of these rooms. It appears in World 1 Stage 2 just beyond the warp star that appears at the end of the first part of the level. Normally you must touch the star to jump to the rest of the stage and the screen quits scrolling at this point to indicate that you have to grab the star to move forward, but there is a way to get the warp star to disappear allowing Kirby to move further on to the HAL room. I tried getting into this room myself when I played the Extra Game but I wasn’t able to trigger it, but maybe someday I’ll find it out for myself!
Even if the game is on the easy side it is still worth playing just to see all the neat things the development team was able to stretch out of the NES. Figuring out all the bonus areas isn’t exactly a walk in the park either so there is something here for everyone. If Kirby’s Adventure can be considered a sendoff to the NES, then it was quite a way to bow out. You could even call it’s a shooting star, burning bright, although this star never really fades away.