Kirby's Dream Land
|Kirby's Dream Land|
North American box art
|Release date(s)||Game Boy
Kirby's Dream Land (星のカービィ Hoshi no Kābī?, "Kirby of the Stars"), is a 1992 third party platforming video game developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy handheld game console. It was first released in Japan on April 27, and four months later was released in North America on August 1. It is both the first video game in the Kirby series and the debut of the Kirby character. Kirby's Dream Land was designed by Masahiro Sakurai, who intended it to be a simple game that could be played and beaten by beginning gamers while offering optional challenges for advanced gamers.
As the inaugural Kirby title, Kirby's Dream Land created many conventions that would appear in later games in the series, including Kirby's basic moves. However, Kirby's trademark "copy" ability would not appear until Kirby's Adventure, released less than one year later. Kirby's Dream Land was re-released for the 3DS's Virtual Console service in 2011. It is also one of the games included in the compilation game Kirby's Dream Collection, which was released to celebrate Kirby's 20th anniversary.
The gluttonous King Dedede has stolen all of the food from the inhabitants of Dream Land for a midnight feast, so Kirby, a resident of Dream Land, goes to retrieve the food and stop Dedede. Kirby's Dream Land plays like other platformers of the 8-bit and 16-bit era of video games: Kirby must use various natural abilities and occasionally items or power-ups while heading toward the goal at the end of each level where a boss is fought. All levels are played on a two-dimensional plane, letting Kirby move only left, right, up, and down. Kirby can walk, jump, and fly. Kirby can also inhale objects and enemies, swallowing them or spitting them out as projectiles.
Levels are made up of a series of large "rooms" rather than the single long corridors typical of platformers at the time and the doors between these rooms act as checkpoints returning the player to the beginning of a "room" when they die rather than starting the level over. Like many 1980s-era platformers, the player can accumulate points, with an extra life granted when the player has enough points. However, because Kirby lacks a save function, scores are not recorded. Also, there are no save files, so the player has to start over again when the Game Boy is turned off, if the player chooses to return to the title screen after a Game Over, or if the player resets the game. Once the game has been completed, a code is offered to play an optional Extra Game, in which the difficulty is significantly increased. Completing the extra game offered a second code that lets the player adjust lives and vitality settings to play an even easier or harder game, and listen to music and sound effects freely. Since there is no save function, these codes are allowed to be entered even on a new session where the game has not been beaten yet.
Kirby's Dream Land was developed by Masahiro Sakurai of HAL Laboratory. Kirby was a dummy character that the developers used until they could define a more sophisticated image. The designers grew to like Kirby so much that they decided to keep him instead of using a more advanced character. He was originally named Popopo (ポポポ?), and Kirby's Dream Land was titled Twinkle Popo (ティンクル・ポポ?). Eventually, he was renamed Kirby and the game was renamed Kirby of the Stars. During the development of what was then referred to as Twinkle Popopo, Popopo/Kirby's colour had not been decided upon. Masahiro Sakurai wanted him to be pink, while Shigeru Miyamoto felt that he should be yellow. Eventually, Nintendo decided to make him pink. Although pink is still Kirby's main colour, later games have shown Kirby in a wide variety of colours, including yellow. When Kirby of the Stars was first released in Japan, it featured Kirby in pinkscale. However, Nintendo of America designed the North American box art and advertisements with a white Kirby based on the game's grey-scale visuals.
The visuals are presented in two dimensions using pixelated sprites and environments. They are in black and white, like all Game Boy video games. The music was composed by Jun Ishikawa. He was the only composer for this game, and has been a regular composer in the Kirby series. His most recent work was on Kirby Super Star Ultra in 2008. Certain songs were also reused in the Super Smash Bros. series as the background music of the Dream Land stage in Super Smash Bros. and the Green Greens stage in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Reception and legacy
Kirby's Dream Land has received generally mixed to positive reception. It holds an aggregate score of 64.83% on Game Rankings with six reviews, making it the 13th best Game Boy game and the 7,279th best video game. By May 28, 1995 Kirby's Dream Land had sold 1.3 million copies. To date, it has sold in excess of 5 million copies worldwide; Gamasutra cited its new style of gameplay for its success. At the time, it was HAL Laboratory's most successful game. Gamasutra's Osamu Inoue attributed the game's success to Satoru Iwata, formerly an employee of HAL Laboratory, who Inoue comments has a "simple-minded passion for creating games". Game Informer 's Ben Reeves called it the 14th best Game Boy game and felt that it was a relaxing game. Author Wendy Despain used Kirby's Dream Land 's plot as an example of how early platform games' plots, which she collectively described as "the main character needing to reach a villain to put right a wrong." Humongous Life's Jonathan Wahlgren called it a strong game, but felt it to be "too elementary". GamesRadar's Brett Elston did an article on its music, specifically giving praise to the final boss music, stating that it is the "only song in the original Kirby that had a sense of challenge or conflict instead of skipping through a field of floating cakes." Nadia Oxford of 1UP.com praised it for its unique platforming mechanics, describing it as the start of a "gluttonous legend". Allgame's Joshua Crystal called it a "great game for beginner players and ones that enjoy a fun, but short, experience.".
In an article detailing various Kirby series video games, IGN stated that it was a decent platformer, but also very basic compared to later titles. IGN's Lucas M. Thomas and Craig Harris included Kirby's Dream Land in their wishlist for a hypothetical "Virtual Console" for the Nintendo 3DS, commenting that its inclusion would be based on nostalgia rather than it feeling "new and sensational". They also added that original characters like Kirby were the stars of the Game Boy rather than established characters such as Link, Mario, Samus Aran, and Pit. They would again praise Kirby's Dream Land for being an original game in their "History of the Game Boy" article, adding that while "attitude" was common in new platforming mascots, Kirby was cheery and adorable, while the game featured "breezy, casual gameplay and lighthearted atmosphere". GameSpy's Gerald Villoria, Brian Altano, and Ryan Scott called it "basic" compared to later titles in the series, adding that it lacked a sense of danger because Kirby could fly. Nintendo Power editors George and Bob shared roughly similar opinions of the game; George stated that it is a really fun game, owing its quality to its excellent play control and well thought out concept, while Bob stated that it is deceptively simple looking, when it in fact features a decent challenge for more experienced gamers. GamesRadar listed Kirby's Dream Land and its sequel as two of the titles they want in the 3DS Virtual Console.
Kirby's Dream Land has since spawned dozens of sequels across more than a half-dozen video game consoles. The first direct sequel was Kirby's Adventure, which was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System console. It introduced the ability to steal powers from enemies, an ability which has been used in the majority of games following it. It was followed by two more Dream Land titles: Kirby's Dream Land 2 and Kirby's Dream Land 3. The series has featured several spin-offs, including the racing game Kirby Air Ride and pinball game Kirby's Pinball Land. Several other games have featured Kirby's Dream Land in one way or the other. In Kirby Super Star, the "Spring Breeze" subgame is a shortened remake of Kirby's Dream Land missing the Castle Lololo level and Kaboola boss fight but adding Kirby's copy ability from later titles. Super Star's remake Kirby Super Star Ultra features "Revenge of The King", which takes inspiration from Kirby's Dream Land's extra mode. In Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee, a stage called "Dream Land" appears, taking elements from Dream Land.
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