Kirby isn’t exactly what you would call a blockbuster franchise. I mean, sure, he’s in Smash Bros. and is considered one of Nintendo’s big characters but when was the last time that you thought that a Kirby game would be as big a deal as a new Zelda or Mario installment? Nintendo’s newest collection, which brings together six of Kirby’s past adventures, probably won’t change your mind but it might just give you a newfound appreciation for the little pink puff.
Why does Kirby get a collection? It’s because he turns the big 2-0 this year; just like when Mario turned 25, Nintendo decided to celebrate by releasing a collection of Kirby’s best adventures. As a side note, this Anniversary collection is way better than the (pathetic) Mario Anniversary collection. Rather than just throwing a single SNES ROM onto a disc, Nintendo instead included six of Kirby’s games, spanning four separate consoles and a fairly robust set of extras.
But let’s get into the meat of the package, the reason we’re all here: How do the games hold up? Surprisingly well, for the most part. With the exception of the original Kirby’s Dream Land on the Game Boy (a rather simple game, even for its time), each game is every bit as fun to play now as they were when they were first released. Two games in particular, Kirby’s Adventure on the NES and the SNES masterpiece Kirby Super Star, actually seem to have gotten better with age. Granted, your experience with each game may vary depending on whether or not you’ve played them before and how much nostalgia you hold, but each game holds up and gives you a good sampling of what Kirby is all about.
Nintendo was also kind enough to include more extras than you’d expect. The most immediately noticeable feature is that they’ve included a soundtrack (with way more tracks than what they included for Mario) and a neat little booklet going over the history of each game included in the collection. On the disc, too, they’ve included some bonuses. There’s a few challenge levels using the same engine as Kirby’s Return to Dreamland and the baffling decision to choose three random episodes of the Kirby cartoon series from the early 2000’s. Finally, Nintendo has included a complete timeline of every Kirby game ever released, complete with preview videos, little factoids, and a cool 3D recreation of its boxart. This, unfortunately, also shows the Dream Collection’s biggest weakness.
There have been over 20 Kirby released to date, yet there are only six of them in this collection. It would be unreasonable to expect Nintendo to include the Wii games and it would be downright impossible for them to put in the DS games but, after they’ve shown all of the spinoffs available for the SNES and mainline games on the GBA, this collection feels a little anemic. Sure, it gives you a good representation of the mainline games but none of the numerous spinoffs have been included. Instead, players are left with only previews that will taunt them with games that they can’t play. It all just seems a little cruel.
Kirby’s Dream Collection is certainly appreciated. Its main strength lies in the fact that it’s built on a an exceptionally high quality series and includes a lot of extras tailored to the Kirby fans out there. While it’s a gigantic leap over the Mario Collection, Nintendo still has quite a bit to improve upon for their future collections. However, stepping back and looking at what is included and not lamenting what’s not, you’ll see that you have six great games and a lot of extras.