Monday, September 30, 2013

Video Game Review: Kirby's Adventure (Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition) (Nintendo Wii)

Shortly after my first glorious romp with Kirby's Dream Land, I decided to try out Kirby's sole NES outing: Kirby's Adventure. This wasn't really a blind run; when I was a younger soul, maybe twelve or thirteen, a friend purchased Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land for the Game Boy Advance and, being a rabid fan of Kirby 64, I borrowed it. I think I beat the thing by the end of the school day, but I loved every second of it (and I might add, it was the most productive in-school suspension I've ever had). Being a bit of a historian, I was interested in trying out the original. I knew it couldn't possibly be exactly like the remake, so I didn't go into it expecting that.

Actually, it's not too different. Kirby's Adventure doesn't feature the enhanced graphics of its follower, but it isn't ugly or even mediocre. The visuals are superb for the most part, going that extra mile to actually look like something in a time where most things were digital Legos. Kirby's round and got character, and anything he comes up against has a lot of personality.

Unfortunately, the development team went a little overboard attempting to prove that the NES was capable of being pretty. While the environments are lush and character sprites are gorgeous, it's just too ambitious for the NES to handle. Intense flickering drowns out most of the details and is probably a considerable risk for those with epilepsy. I found that it reduced me to a dream-like trance for the majority of the game, making it painful to play and difficult to rationalize. The game also suffers considerable slowdown at a number of parts, and there is at least one ability (Spark) which causes the processing to drag any time it's used. This is a monstrous issue.

Those aren't the only downsides the more-than-adequate graphics create, though. While stage design is damn near brilliant when explored isolated from all its beautifying effects, it really doesn't work out so well in-game. The excessive detailing combined with the NES' limited capacity for colors makes it difficult to tell which objects are foreground and which are background. This issue was present in a number of NES games, so the developers made damn sure the environments were not cluttered with confusing objects. Kirby's Adventure is more cluttered than the average home in Hoarders. Blocks stacked several high, which are drawn exactly like all the usable blocks, litter the backgrounds, some even piled up around foreground objects. This can make predicting jumps a very difficult task, and even with Kirby's unlimited flight ability I still plummeted to my death a couple times.

I can appreciate the attempt at creating a beautiful environment on the NES architecture, and HAL got it right as far as screenshots are concerned. But when everything is moving it just doesn't work, and the results of this one design philosophy have led to an entire game, a game which would have otherwise been phenomenal, being nearly unplayable.

It's not all bad, but I've kind of already hit the subject line: a major, and potentially dangerous, flaw permeates the entire game and absolutely murders the experience.

In the past I've gone on at length about the quality aspects of games, and maybe it's fair for me to go into detail about that here as well. But I really can't find the motivation to. I can't recommend anybody to play this game, despite the great music, great physics, incredible boss battles, and perfect difficulty level (when it plays right). Supposing I should just to be fair, but I don't really have the patience for it, it's an energy suck, and I'm never going to play this game again.

Look, this game was a pretty miserable experience for me. I absolutely loved it from a technical standpoint, because it really is a marvel beside its peers on that scale. As somebody who can appreciate the work that goes into creating something, I can definitely appreciate Kirby's Adventure. But as somebody who's a gamer first, I really have a hard time getting behind this game. It's not fun. It is the perfect argument against the position that games are inherently good based on the tech. specs. alone. Specs. don't make a game, unfortunately.

Kirby let me down with this one. Some people might find it fun, a lot of people find it fun. I don't. I had a few good times, but the overall bad experience really makes any positive aspects negligible. Kirby's Adventure sees itself on the list with five stars. I want to bite it a lot harder, mainly because my head aches for some reason and I've focused only on the negative aspect (and that's seriously coloring my language, wtf), but the good stuff is good enough to push the game into "mediocre" territory. As far as games go, you really could do a lot worse.

--Consider this a note of hesitation. I might revise this review in the future, because it really does not follow my typical review philosophy. Still, everything I've said here is true, and the star rating can only be lowered. Kirby's Adventure will never cross into the "good" or "enjoyable" game spectrum.--

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