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It's funny how things turn out. Gamers haven't seen the cute and cuddly Kirby on a main Nintendo console since the N64 days. Fans of HAL Laboratory's puff ball have had to content themselves with his handheld exploits in recent years, but I am pleased to report that the drought of Kirby console games has now come to an end. With the Wii reaching the climax of its life cycle we get treated to two Kirby titles within the space of a few months. Earlier in the year we had the excellent Kirby's Epic Yarn which had Kirby whipping enemies in a fabric themed world. Kirby's Adventure Wii follows hot on its heels returning to the more traditional Kirby gameplay of gobbling up enemies and absorbing their powers. Eager to have an excuse to turn on my neglected Wii I snapped up the title on its release. Let us see what I made of it.
The game sees Kirby helping out an alien named Magolor who has crash landed on Dream Land. Being the kind hearted chap that he is Kirby agrees to travel from region to region collecting parts of Magolor's broken spacecraft so the vehicle can be patched together. Around the midway point of the game Kirby succeeds in the task and is rewarded for his good deeds. Magolor takes Kirby over to his home world, but the trip is cut short when they come across a nasty four headed dragon named Landia who they must battle. By Kirby standards the story is decent. Sure the plot is a little cliché, but considering that the series is aimed at youngsters I wasn't expecting Shakespeare. Besides the creators don't have much to play with when drumming up a tale given that the protagonist's vocabulary is restricted to a few cute sound bites.
Although the graphic design of the game isn't as clever as Epic Yarn, from the traditional Kirby games I would have to say that this is the best looking title in the series. The visuals won't blow you away, given that the Wii is only a suped up Gamecube lacking HD support, but what we get looks nice, colourful and moves along smoothly. The soundtrack however was a little disappointing when compared to the high standards set by other Kirby games. We get remixes of some well known Kirby songs which are okay, but the new tunes they introduced didn't wow me. They are competently put together and easy on the ear, but none of them stood out like the upbeat pieces we have been spoiled by in the past. It does feel like the creators rested on their laurels by playing things safe with the score.
Kirby's Adventure is your typical platformer which has Kirby going through a number of areas broken down into stages which you ultimately clear by defeating a boss. To deal with enemies Kirby doesn't jump on them like Mario, but instead uses his inhalation powers to gobble up foes. Any bad guys in Kirby's mouth can be spat out to hit monsters from a distance or you can swallow them to absorb their powers. There's over twenty powers Kirby can mimic and the game includes most of the popular ones such as the sword, beam attack and rock transformation. Amongst the selection of powers there are a few new abilities to try out such as a whip, spear, leaf and water.
During his travels Kirby will sometimes come across sparkling enemies (not to be confused with Twilight vampires) which if eaten will endow him with a special power for a limited period of time. The special powers he acquires are juiced up versions of the regular abilities he gets and you will be using them to uncover hidden zones. Wrecking the area with a giant sword, magical sphere or waves of fiery dragons was pretty spectacular at first, but after a few goes I did find the powers to be a bit clunky to use. Every time you perform one of the flashy attacks the screen freezes for a few seconds as the animation plays out. I think I preferred the transformations we got in Epic Yarn over the super powers as the constant stop/start did interrupt the flow of the game.
One of the title's main selling points would have to be that it supports four player co-op. Anyone who has played a multiplayer Kirby game, such as Kirby Superstar on the Super Nintendo, can testify as to how much fun playing with a buddy can be. Aside from Kirby other players can control the likes of King Dedede (a duck with a big ass hammer) his spear wielding henchman Waddle Dee or the sword user Meta Knight (he can fly with wings so I guess he is a fan of Red Bull.) Working together against the enemies is a blast and gives you a few extra options such as team attacks or the ability to heal injured allies by erm kissing them. Gripes it does seem a tad risqué of Nintendo to have a game were male characters lock lips. Ah well what did you expect from a "fabulous" game featuring rainbows and a pink hero.
As a Kirby fan I loved Kirby's Adventure Wii as much as Epic Yarn. If you are an older gamer seeking a new platformer for the Wii you really should check it out although be aware that the game is pretty easy and not all that long. Renting could well be an option if you are only interested in playing through the story as the adventure only lasts for around eight hours. There is however some replay value to be had because upon completing the game you unlock a hard mode to tackle and the arena where you take on the bosses in a series of fights. You can also revisit completed stages to find hidden gears which are needed to unlock all of the game's optional content.
I especially liked that you could play Kirby's Adventure with traditional controls by holding the wii-mote like a NES controller. Needless motion controls are restricted to shaking the wii-mote on a few rare occasions and for the mini games. Releasing Kirby's Adventure Wii late in November was a good idea by Nintendo as it makes a good Christmas gift. Cynical teenagers may scoff at the cute graphics, but if you have a couple of kids aged ten or so I would imagine that they would love playing this. Let them save Dreamland in a game suitable for all ages whilst the grown ups gobble up the turkey putting Kirby's gluttonous ways to shame.