Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review - Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition

Two years ago, Nintendo celebrated Mario’s 25th anniversary by releasing a special edition of Super Mario All-Stars for the Wii. It was disappointing. All it was was the original Super Mario All-Stars ROM slapped on a Wii disc for 40 dollars and it wasn’t even the version of All-Stars that came with Super Mario World! The original Mario games are great but Nintendo could have put way more effort into celebrating their biggest character’s birthday.

Thankfully, HAL Labs and Nintendo have decided to do just that to celebrate the Kirby franchises 20th anniversary. Kirby’s Dream Collection is everything a fan of the series could want in a compilation. It has great games, great menus and some really cool bonus features. It’s everything Super Mario All-Stars wasn’t.

The main draw is that the game features six of Kirby’s biggest adventures from the past two decades. From the first ever Kirby game, the simplistic Kirby’s Dream Land, to the pink puffballs attempt to switch things up on the Nintendo 64, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Each of the six games still hold up incredibly well and should be played by anybody who just loves good, solid platforming. Kirby Super Star might very well be one of the finest platforming games ever made and Kirby’s Adventure isn’t far behind. I honestly don’t feel the need to go too in-depth with these games because if you’re a Kirby fan, you probably already own them several times over not to mention, they’re all at least ten years old but just know that not a single one of them is bad and you’d be remised to not check each of them out. While it would have been nice to have a few more of Kirby’s Gameboy and Super Nintendo outings included, the games we got are the best in the series so it’s hard to even complain about that.

Six of the finest platformers ever made all in one place.
 Now the real thing that separates this game from Super Mario All-Stars is the fact that it’s not just a bunch of ROM files thrown on a disc, oh no, HAL went the extra mile to make it worth your dollar by including a surprising amount of extra features. The Kirby Museum is the first feature that will likely catch your eye and it’s very cool. You run down a hallway marked with each year on it from 1992 to 2012 and it shows you when each Kirby game was released. It also includes a couple of fun facts from each year. There’s your usual stuff like which Nintendo console was released that year but also a few strange choices like when and where each Olympic games took place and when the Human Genome Project was finished. It’s strange but Kirby’s a quirky series so it works. 

The museum gives you a quirky look at Kirby's varied history.
The real fun starts when you hit the 2 button next to any of these dates, however. Kirby inhales the game cases and gives you some brief info on each of the different games. When in this new menu, you can also take a look at a 3D render of the games original packaging and watch a video of gameplay footage for each different game. There’s even info on the Kirby anime and three whole episodes you can watch if you so choose. (I wouldn’t but you might…) Perhaps my favorite part, however, is how each time you click a new game, a music track from that game plays while you read or look at the case. It’s a small touch but one I really appreciate.

But beyond including six classic games and some random Kirby facts and box-arts, HAL also included an entirely new mini-game to play, the Challenge Stages. These stages are based off of a similar mini-game in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, and use the same controls and graphics, but they’re entirely brand new. You have to master eight of Kirby’s different abilities to get through each of the short stages as fast as possible and with as many points as possible. It’s fun to just tear through a bunch of baddies with the sword ability and a nice treat for someone who hasn’t played Return to Dream Land to test out the new whip ability. HAL even went the extra mile by including the Smash ability from Kirby and the Amazing Mirror, an ability not included in Return to Dream Land. These short stages aren’t quite enough to hold their own for a full game but as an addition to this collection, it seems almost generous. Plus, it’s a nice taste of Return to Dream Land.

New content?! On a compilation disc?! The absurdity!
Rounding out the package is the physical items that come with the game. You get a nice little booklet detailing Kirby’s many outings and adventures. This booklet isn’t the biggest thing you’ve ever seen but it’s a nice addition housing many different images, facts, concept art and even every Nintendo Power cover featuring Kirby’s mug. You also get a 45 track CD, featuring some of the franchise’s best tunes. The Kirby series has always had fantastic music so to get a full 45 track CD free with six great Kirby games is an absolute steal.

It’s impossible for me not to recommend the Kirby series to anybody who loves Kirby or just wants to play some great platforming games. The package is built with such love and care that it actually makes the Super Mario All-Star collection look even more lazy in comparison. HAL clearly loves their little puffball and every part of that shines through in this amazing package. You may already own all six of these games several times but trust me when I say, it’s worth owning them all again.

Matt thought this game was...

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