Take on the NES Library

An 8-bit Extravaganza!



#158 – Day Dreamin’ Davey

A good game?  In your dreams!

Not pictured is Davey’s PogChamp face.

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 5/24/20 – 5/31/20
Difficulty: 5/10
My Difficulty: 5/10
My Video: Day Dreamin’ Davey Longplay

When I was building my licensed NES collection, I would always get excited when I saw a new game I had never seen before.  I browsed eBay lots of NES games looking for deals, so I saw plenty of games all the time.  I knew of the really rare games and what to look for, but there were also uncommon games that don’t demand much value but are hard to come by when you are looking to add them to the shelf.  Day Dreamin’ Davey is a game that immediately takes me back to that phase of my collecting days.  It has an interesting, kind of goofy cover, the kind that really piques my curiosity.  In this particular case, the allure of owning it exceeded the quality of the game found inside.

Day Dreamin’ Davey was released on the NES in the US only in June 1992.  The game was developed by Sculptured Software and published by HAL Laboratory.  I was surprised when I researched that Sculptured Software developed 10 NES games, by my count.  This is the first game by this developer that I have played for this project.

In this game you play the role of Davey.  He is a boy in school who has trouble focusing and staying awake in class.  During class or even when talking to people like the school principal, he will doze off, taking whatever discussion is going on into his daydreams.  The game takes place inside of Davey’s dreams as he travels in his mind to various locations.  Your goal is to get Davey through his school day by navigating through all his dream scenarios.  There are 11 levels to play to beat the game.

First things first, you gotta jump the rocks.

Day Dreamin’ Davey is a top-down action game.  You move Davey with the D-pad in four directions throughout the large, free-scrolling stages.  Press the Start or Select button to bring up the menu.  Here you can see your items in columns sorted by B button items, A button items, and consumable items.  Navigate with the D-pad and select any item per column with either the A or B button.  Typically, the A button is for your permanent melee weapons like swords, while the B button weapons are limited by the ammo you carry.  You can also jump by pressing A and B together.  While being able to jump is not intuitive, you can hold down A and press B to jump while repeatedly attacking, making things a bit easier.  (The inverse is not true, holding B and pressing A does not jump.)  Sometimes you will talk to people in your adventure and you can progress through their words by pressing A.

The first area you’ll come across is the Medieval World.  You begin with only a short sword that attacks straight ahead with A.  You’ll need to use your jumping skills to jump out of the rock circle you start in and talk to the first white knight you see.  You might mistake him for your enemy, and you can actually defeat him if you really want.  The goal for this level is to find you a better sword, Excalibur to be exact, and defeat the dark knight Lumper.  Explore through the woods maze to complete these objectives.

There are other items you can pick up here.  Sometimes enemies drop them and sometimes you find them in dead-end or other nooks and crannies.  There are spears that you can throw as a consumable weapon.  There are two kinds of potions you can find that look the same but appear in different spots in your inventory.  One of these is a healing potion and the other damages you, so beware.  An hourglass freezes all the enemies in their tracks, while a magic bag of fairy dust makes Davey invincible for a short time.

Here’s the *checks notes* John Smith building.

When you complete your goal and wake up from your daydream, you’ll advance the story via cutscenes before slipping into your next daydream which brings you to the Western World.  Our hero dons a cowboy hat and carries a whip as you explore an Old West town.  There are gunslinger enemies as well as other desert hazards such as rattlesnakes and tumbleweed.  This area has several buildings and you can go into some of them for different things.  The first goal should be to find the sheriff’s office where he will give you a mission and some cash.  There are some stores in the town.  The gunsmith shop lets you buy different firearms as well as ammo for them.  At the Trading Post, you can exchange items you find for cash as well as purchase random items like deer tails and spirit powder.  Some of the items you buy have good effects, while others have negative effects.  You can find some items on the ground as well, such as ammo, snake skins, and TNT.

The goal in the Western World is to defeat a specific gunslinger found somewhere in town.  You’ll follow the directions from the sheriff to figure this out, plus you’ll need to acquire a gun for the shootout.  When you encounter the enemy, the perspective changes to a screen with the bad guy in full view facing you.  He will tell you to “draw” and then you have to shoot the gun out of his hand before he blasts you first.  It costs you a life if you lose.  You can fight this battle in one of two ways.  The most straightforward way is to use the controller to aim a targeting reticle at his gun, then press A to fire.  In a neat twist, the other way to defeat him is to use the Zapper gun, specific to just this fight.  When you first encounter him, you will have pick up the Zapper quickly, then shoot the gun to beat him.  Nowhere in the manual or on the box does it tell you that this is a Zapper-compatible game, but it works and that’s how I played this game.

The third area in the game is the Greek Mythology World.  Here you don’t start with a weapon but you can punch with either A or B to start.  You will need to speak to various Greek gods and goddesses for tips on how to clear this area.  You will need to acquire both a bow and arrow and a shield.  Along the way you will fend off guards, eagles, and satyrs with whatever you have on hand.  Droppable items include apples, some of which heal you while others hurt you, and sundials to freeze time.  The goal of this stage is to find and defeat a cyclops.  There are several temples to enter as well as gates that connect different sections of the stage together.

Shoot his eye out!

The rest of the stages are in one of the three above themes.  The neat thing is that you will go back to the same areas you were before but this time you will have access to different portions of the stages.  Some areas expand further out to brand new sub areas.  For instance, in the Greek Mythology world you go down into the Underworld and meet with Hades himself.  This means that the later levels are longer than the earlier ones, even with the benefit of having been to those stages before.

You start the game with one extra life and there’s no way to earn any more.  This is the only game I’m aware of that has a lives system with only one spare life.  Losing a life lets you keep any items you’ve acquired, but when you continue after your next death, then you have to start the level all over again.  A few of the stages are long enough that it is a pain to have to go back and replay, but having one retry is better than nothing.  Thankfully, the game is long enough that there are passwords.  The codes are short, five-letter codes made up of all consonants.

This was my first time playing through Day Dreamin’ Davey.  I am pretty sure I picked up my copy of this game at my local game store.  It would have sold for either $5 or $8.  I didn’t keep any records of local purchases, but I believe that to be correct.  I do know that I sold a double of this at some point, but I don’t remember where I got the other one either.  I would not be surprised if I picked up both locally.  In fact, I think there might be another copy at my local store now, though I have not been there in months.  They raised their prices a few years back across the board so I suspect they have it listed at either $15 or $20.  This is an uncommon game that sells for around $15 cart only.

Zapper this varmint’s gun right out of his hand!

My playthrough of this game was not notable except for one thing.  This was the first game I successfully streamed in its entirety!  Of course, since it was Zapper-compatible, that meant I recorded in standard definition off my modded top loader and CRT in the other room, but everything went well.  It took me four nights of streaming to beat the entire game, taking a little over 5 hours total.  I was expecting the game to last longer than that.  I went back later and recorded the entire game from start to finish for YouTube, which lasted about 80 minutes.  That took two tries over two separate nights because I accidentally started the game over instead of continuing when I was in Stage 8.

Despite the interesting premise and late release date, this is not a good game.  The biggest issue with the game is the lack of any polish, like the game feels rushed to completion.  Enemies often disappear for no reason, sometimes glitching through solid walls.  Sometimes an enemy can get stuck to you and deal crazy damage.  It is often hard to tell if you are damaging the enemy because damage flashes are inconsistent and there’s no clear sound effect to show that you are hurting the bad guys.  A few places in the game have invisible quicksand where you need to mash A and B to jump out of them lest you die.  Having one extra life was a strange decision.  Collision detection feels off.  It’s a shame because the theme of the game is interesting, so there could have been a good game here.  With mediocre graphics and music, the gameplay needed to be strong for this to have been a fun game, and that is definitely missing.  It feels to me like they spent their entire development budget on the voice samples found throughout the cutscenes.  I would say skip this one unless you are desperate to try something different on the NES.

#158 – Day Dreamin’ Davey


#156 – Millipede

Bug hunting on your NES!

More text than title.

To Beat: Beat Wave 16
To Complete: Beat Wave 16 in Game Modes A and B
What I Did: Completed the game
Played: 5/12/20
Difficulty: 3/10
My Difficulty: 3/10
My Video: Millipede Longplay

It’s another day and another arcade port.  Centipede was an arcade smash hit and still holds up today as a fun game to play, even if it is a product of its time.  Millipede was not as popular of a follow up.  I think it is a more interesting game, expanding on the base action of Centipede with more enemy types and various effects on the playfield.  The translation of this trackball game to the NES and its controller loses the precision movement and feel of the arcade game.  There was no trackball accessory for the NES so this was the best we could get.  While the game is hampered a little by standard controls, it still carries plenty of action.

Centipede is a 1981 arcade game from Atari Inc.  It was designed by Donna Bailey and Ed Logg.  It was a big hit for Atari, eventually making its way to various home consoles and computers in the years following.  A sequel, Millipede, was released in 1982 in arcades.  This game had a few home releases on Atari computers and consoles, as well as a port on the NES.  This version was developed by Hal Laboratories.  It was first released on Famicom in October 1987 and received an NES release in October 1988.  It was published by HAL in both regions.

Casual bug blasting at first.

While Millipede is a simple arcade-style game, there is a story listed in the manual.  You play the role of an archer lost in a dark forest, when a giant millipede appears and starts moving toward you.  Fortunately, you are able to fire magic arrows that transform a segment of the millipede into a harmless mushroom.  You need to defend yourself for as long as possible against the millipede as well as from the other creepy crawlies that inhabit the forest.  Sadly, we all know how this will end as there’s no ending in this game, but the story does serve to raise the stakes a little.

First things first, you need to select which kind of game you want to play.  Press the Select button to move the marker between options on the title screen.  You choose from either a 1-player or 2-player game, either in Game A or Game B, for the four total options.  Two players play in alternating turns.  Game A is the standard game mode, while Game B starts you off at a higher difficulty.  For the purposes of my challenge, I decided to tackle both Game A and Game B.  Press Start when you make your choice to get started!

This is a simple game to play and control.  Your character is the archer at the bottom of the screen.  You can move in eight directions with the D-pad.  Press A to shoot an arrow.  You can only have one arrow on the screen at any given time, but you can do “rapid fire” by holding down A, which fires an arrow as soon as the other one exits the screen or hits something.  The bottom portion of the screen has a gray background which is where your movements are limited.  Enemies can come and go within that space, but you cannot.

Be careful, it can get crowded at the bottom.

The main attraction in this game so to speak is the millipede itself.  It’s behavior, and many of the enemy behaviors in this game, come directly from Centipede.  The millipede comes down from the top of the screen, moving one row at a time.  The playfield is littered with mushrooms that help divert the millipede on its way down.  Whenever the millipede collides with something, it moves down a row and toward the opposite horizontal direction, always moving one space horizontally through objects if they are in the way at the start of the new row.  The millipede is made up of a head segment and several body segments.  You can blast any part of the millipede away with one arrow, splitting it into multiple millipedes if body segments are left without a head.  You can also have a single head segment go off on its own.  If the millipede reaches the bottom of the screen, it will start working its way back up but it is now locked into the same grey area you are restricted to.  Later waves of the game start off with the new millipede split off into smaller parts.  Once all the millipede is destroyed, the next wave begins with a brand new millipede from the top.

The mushrooms in the playfield play a vital role in the flow of this game.  Obviously the millipede is steered down the screen due to the layout of the mushrooms.  The mushrooms themselves are solid and absorb hits from your arrows.  Sometimes they get in the way of reaching the enemies, but thankfully you can blast them away.  Each mushroom takes four hits to remove and the size shrinks with every hit until it’s gone.  Plus you get an entire point for removing one completely!  When you lose a life, all partial mushrooms are restored to full and you get 5 points for each one.  A difference in this version of the game compared to others is that there is no enemy that poisons mushrooms.  When the millipede touches the poison mushroom, it wiggles down directly to the bottom of the screen.  It is weird that this does not exist in this port of the game.

Another enhancement from Centipede is the DDT bomb.  These are very clearly marked on the playfield, appearing with the mushrooms from time to time.  When you shoot them, they explode into a large cloud that sticks around on the screen for a second or two.  Any enemy that touches the DDT is defeated.  What you want to do if possible is to shoot the bomb as the millipede is approaching so that it heads directly into the cloud.  You will destroy most or all of the millipede this way and you get a lot of points in doing so.

Don’t worry too much about the long term effects of pesticides.

There are quite a few other enemy types in this game you can categorize as either ground enemies or flying enemies.  The ground ones are the most disruptive so we’ll start with them, beginning with the ubiquitous spiders.  They appear low from each side of the screen and move across the screen zigzagging vertically, occasionally stopping horizontally.  You need to pay the most attention to these as they are very likely to collide with you.  You earn points depending on how close you are to them when you shoot them.  Scoring is from 300 to 1200 in 300 point increments.  Ladybugs are another nuisance.  They move slowly from the edge of the screen, moving down, then across, then back up and out.  Shooting them moves all objects on the playfield down a row, same as when you clear a wave.  Any mushroom they touch turns into an indestructible flower which can be quite bothersome.  The other two ground enemies are easy to deal with and can’t hurt you.  Caterpillars crawl across the center of the screen and they slow enemies down if you defeat them.  Longicorns (yes that’s their name) move across the top of the screen and give you a lot of points if you can reach them with a shot.

The flying enemies are all similar to each other.  Mayflies simply move in a straight line down the screen.  Mosquitos move down the screen in small zig-zags making them slightly harder to hit.  Dragonflies move diagonally down the screen bouncing off the sides of the screen only.  This game has special waves every four waves featuring just the flying enemies.  Wave 4 is a swarm of mayflies, wave 8 is a swarm of mosquitoes, and wave 12 is a swarm of dragonflies.  That pattern repeats every four waves thereafter.  Dying in the special wave moves you up the next wave on your next life.

Beating this game requires determining an end condition as this game does not have an ending.  The first stage starts with a full length millipede and you get smaller, segmented millipedes through the first 16 waves, starting over at Wave 17.  So beating 16 loops makes sense for the winning condition, and I decided to do that on both game modes just for completeness sake.  Getting there for me required some extra lives, which this game provides as you play.  The text at the bottom of the screen kindly lets you know how many points you need to earn your next free life.  It goes every 20,000 points until 100,000 total points, and then you get extra lives at every 50,000 points afterward.  The screen shows up to eight extra lives but I am not sure if you can earn beyond that.

Gameplay becomes fast and frantic in a hurry.

Millipede on NES was a game I had in my NES collection very early on.  I don’t remember how I got it exactly but it was most likely a yard sale buy from the 90s.  I played it off and on as it fits the bill for a game to play for a few minutes.  I may have beaten the game before by my standards but I have no way of knowing for sure.  This is an inexpensive game that is easy to find, and I’ve had a few copies of it go through my hands.

Beating this game wasn’t really that difficult, but I often seem to have some hiccups along the way.  Starting with Game A, I got through Wave 16 on my second try.  I wanted to capture the Game Over screen for documentation here, but it does not stay up long and I completely whiffed on taking a picture.  I moved on to Game B anyway and met my goal on the 5th try.  Everything starts off harder, which isn’t terrible early on but becomes a bigger problem in double-digit waves.  Then after that I beat Game A again, this time getting the picture I needed.  The entire run of playing, including the Game A replay, took about 45 minutes.  Short, quick, and fun games are always welcome here!

The NES port of Millipede was fun to play through, but I’m not sure I would say it is a great port of the game.  The graphics are very simple, with basic border tiles, solid color backgrounds, and tiny objects and sprites.  The music in this game is all sound effects, save for the catchy jingle on the title screen.  The soundscape gets pretty grating after a little bit.  The controls are solid, as they should be for a simple game like this.  The gameplay is fast paced and it plays well.  There are some missing features here that I have noticed in other versions, such as the poison mushrooms and backward playfield scrolling.  My favorite version of this game is the Game Boy Arcade Classics version, which seems to be closer to the arcade version just on a smaller scale.  The NES port is a step back from that.  It’s still fun, but there are better ways to play this game.

#156 – Millipede (Game A)

#156 – Millipede (Game B)


#132 – Kabuki Quantum Fighter

The game with the hair whip.

Nice bold heading!

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 8/5/19
Difficulty: 5/10
My Difficulty: 2/10
My Video: Kabuki Quantum Fighter Longplay

There aren’t many NES games that have a more interesting title than Kabuki Quantum Fighter. Once you know a little more about the background of the game and a bit of history, the title makes perfect sense. Your main character resembles an ancient Kabuki dancer, complete with elaborate makeup and clothing. The game takes places inside of a large, probably quantum computer. And, of course, in a game you will be doing some fighting. There you have it: Kabuki Quantum Fighter. Beyond the surprisingly accurate name, this is a real gem of a game that I enjoy playing quite a lot.

Kabuki Quantum Fighter was first released on the Famicom under the title Jigoku Gokurakumaru. The game was developed by Human Entertainment. The Japanese release was published by Pack-In Video and came out in December 1990. The NES release shortly followed in North America in January 1991, published by HAL America. The European NES release was in February 1992, published by HAL Laboratory. Sadly, this game has not been re-released digitally and is only available on these older platforms.

The game’s story takes place in a futuristic Earth. The planet has a main defense computer that has been affected by a nasty virus. The only way to combat the virus is to go inside the computer and take it out from within. You play the role of the brave Colonel Scott O’Connor who has volunteered to neutralize the threat. To do this, he has to be converted into raw binary data through the untested Image Transfer System in order to fight the virus. The transfer works, but his appearance is altered to that of one of his ancestors who was a Kabuki dancer. To beat the game, just clear the game’s six stages.

A powerful head of hair.

Kabuki Quantum Fighter is a platformer with a standard control scheme. You use the D-pad to walk around left or right. The A button jumps and you can control the height of your jump with how long the button is held. The B button attacks, only this game uses Scott’s flowing red locks as a whip to damage enemies. You can crouch down by holding Down. Your attack in the crouched position is a short-range punch. There are hooks scattered throughout the stages than you can hang from by jumping into them from below. While hanging, the B button performs a sweeping kick. You can drop down from hanging by pressing Down or you can jump with A, allowing you to flip up to a higher ledge or to another nearby hook. You can attach to some walls and you can climb them by pressing Up or Down. The Select button switches your weapon, and the Start button pauses the action. You can switch weapons while paused.

Your status bar is at the bottom of the screen. On the left, you see your life bar, your chip meter, and the boss’s health bar. Below that is your score, the number of lives remaining, and the stage timer. The far right contains an icon indicating your currently equipped weapon. Nice and straightforward.

Normal attacks are all short range, so to compensate you can use special weapons. (Of random note: The names in game don’t line up with the ones in the manual, so I’m going with the in-game descriptions for these.) You begin the game with one special weapon and earn others by completing stages, using memory chips for ammo. The first attack is the energy gun, which is a tiny projectile attack. In level 2, you get a larger, upgraded version of the energy gun. In level 3, you get the fusion gun which is a three-way spread attack. Starting in level 4 you can use quantum bombs. These are sticks of dynamite thrown forward in an arc and they have a wide attack splash. Finally, in level 5 you earn the remote control bolo. This is a set of three star-shaped weapons that home in on and wrap around enemies, dealing small damage for as long as they last. Naturally, the better weapons use up more of your chip stash.

This game contains many swinging challenges.

Enemies in this game sometimes drop basic items. Hearts refill a segment of your health meter, and flashing hearts refill several segments at once. You can also grab chips as ammo for your special weapons. Flashing chips give you several rounds of ammo. Occasionally, enemies will drop clearly labeled 1up items. There’s enough versatility in the move set that these pickups are enough for this game.

Kabuki Quantum Fighter plays out similarly to Ninja Gaiden but has a few significant differences. Each level is a long scrolling stage. Some levels have more than one of these segments. At the end of each one, you get some bonus points for each bar of health and each chip you have remaining. Then the bars refill back out along with some extra health and ammo. Every level ends in a boss fight. There is a neat mechanic that appears only during these boss encounters. When you pause the game and press either Up or Down, you can exchange your health for chips and vice versa. This gives you some choice during fights. Do you want to sacrifice health so that you can do more long range attacks with your special weapons, or you do you want to give up your special weapons and try to fight close quarters with extra health points? You can mix and match as much as you want as long as you have enough health and ammo to swap. After beating the bosses, you can view cutscenes that progress the story and show you which new weapon you have acquired.

The enemies are quite varied from what you would expect fighting inside of a computer. Sure, there are tiny tanks and some robot-esque enemies. There are also flamethrowing heads, jumping dogs, hovering mouths, and gremlins that throw boomerangs, among others. The designs definitely make the game more interesting. There are also different kinds of traps you contend with. These are things like spike pits, conveyor belts, flowing water, and spike balls. A devious little device you’ll see sometimes is a hanging hook with a tiny conveyor belt on top. I give the designers credit for combining things in interesting ways, even if it’s a little mean in that case.

I wouldn’t deal with a floating mouth either.

Kabuki Quantum Fighter is a game I have owned since childhood and have plenty of experience in playing. I’m pretty sure this game was a bargain pickup for brand new back in the 90s. Unfortunately, I don’t think I kept the box and manual for this one unless it somehow turns up at my mom’s house. This is a reasonably affordable game, so I’m not too upset about it. Carts copies sell for around $15 today.

This is a game I have gone back and played many times over the years, so I breezed through it again for this playthrough. I completed the game without dying and I only used special weapons once or twice. I always use weapons on the final boss, but with a little practice I’m sure I could beat it without. (That’s an idea for a future challenge run, deathless and no special weapons!) My longplay video of the game was solid, however there was one omission I’m minorly annoyed about. After you beat the game and get through the credits, you can press B to see the sound test. You see a unique animation of our hero along with some text indicating another future adventure that never came to be. I cut the video before that only to see it come up when I was messing with the controller afterward. Oh well.

It is tough for me to pin a difficulty on a game like this that I know so well, but I decided on average difficulty. For the most part, the action is straightforward enough. There are plenty of item drops and even some places to grind them if necessary. Special weapons help for tricky spots. Being able to trade up for more health on the bosses also makes battling them easier. You also get two continues for when you run out of lives. That’s all the good stuff. Now what really makes this game difficult are the vertical levels. There are a couple of these in the game that you have to climb all the way to the top. By this point, you should have experience with the hanging hooks, and now your skills are put to the test. It is really easy to fall down. So not only do you have to manage your health for longer if you fall and enemies respawn, but also the timer becomes your biggest enemy. You do have plenty of time to complete the level since I can do it with a lot of time left over. These stages are difficulty spikes the first time through.

Vertical stages are the main pain point in the game.

I played Kabuki Quantum Fighter for high score as part of a weekly contest several years ago, and that gave me with a new way to play the game that I appreciated. The rules were one life only, scoring as many points as possible. It turned the game into a bit of a puzzle. I paid attention to the enemies and how many points I could earn from each one. Then I needed to grind the most lucrative enemies by scrolling back and forth to keep spawning them. I needed to know how much time it took to get from the grind point to the end of the level so that I had as much time to grind points as possible. The other thing I strived for was beating the bosses with normal moves. After I beat the boss, I would swap for as many chips as possible, hopefully up to the max. You trade chips for health at a two for one rate, so more chips mean more bonus points at the end of the level. That also means you might not have that much health for the next stage. I also wanted every extra life I could find since those go for big points at the end of the game. I must have enjoyed doing all that because I know I won the contest that week.

I really like Kabuki Quantum Fighter and I think it is a great platformer on the system. The graphics are well drawn with some good animation, particularly on the player character and the bosses. I think the music in the game is great with several good tunes. The controls work well, giving you many options with the short range standard attacks, long range special weapons, hanging from hooks, and climbing walls. Swinging around is a lot of fun and you have pretty good precision to jump from one hook to the next. The boss encounters are all varied and are pretty good fights in general. Personally, I wish the game were a little bit longer. I think they could have done more with the mechanics to make some additional challenges in the stages. I am a big fan of Kabuki Quantum Fighter and I encourage you to check this game out if you haven’t tried it.

#132 – Kabuki Quantum Fighter

Kirby's Adventure Box Cover

#5 – Kirby’s Adventure

One of the true gems of the NES library, Kirby’s Adventure is a satisfying journey for all ages.

Kirby's Adventure Title Screen

This is one of my favorite NES opening sequences.

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
Difficulty: 2/10
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.

Don’t even bother taking challenges head on!

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.

Kirby already discovered the secret here but that’s okay!

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.

Egg Catcher is the other way, Kirby! It’s fun!

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.

Superhuman timing PLUS drawing a cannon!

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.

Meta Knight is tough but even more difficult to fight when facing the wrong way!

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.

Kirby's Adventure Ending

#5 – Kirby’s Adventure