Friday 21 December 2018

Kirby's Dream Land 2 (Game Boy review)

Developer: HAL Laboratory
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1995

Kirby's Dream Land 2 is a platformer and the sequel to the 1992 original released on the Nintendo Game Boy.

The evil Dark Matter has stolen the rainbows that connect the islands of Dream Land and used them to take control of King Dedede; it's up to you to stop them both from taking over. Kirby has his usual floating mechanic, as well as the ability to inhale enemies and spit them back out; however, he can now swallow them to copy their abilities which include turning into a stone, or throwing a cutter projectile. He's also joined by three animal friends that grant you upgraded abilities and weapons. For Kirby fans, there's nothing here that will surprise in terms of level design, but each stage is tightly structured. There's a nice mixture of indoor and outdoor environments, as well as horizontally and vertically scrolling areas to keep things fresh. There's some neat sections too, such as the smooth forced scrolling in the 45° angle corridors of World 6 that you must fly through. The awesome animal friends might initially seem like a gimmick, but they dramatically increase the number of ways you can attack opponents thanks to their upgraded abilities. The first three worlds lack any real challenge, but World 4 onwards is full of tough enemy placement, disappearing platforms and falling spikes; some elements (such as enemies that appear from nowhere) can be a bit cheap, but what's great is that the game saves your progress after each level, including your life count. The controls are generally excellent, but there is slight input lag when executing split-second jumps. It's also disappointing to see recycled assets from the Game Boy original and Kirby's Adventure (1993, NES), such as the bonus game and various bosses.

Kirby's Dream Land 2 is a solid, if not unsurprising game, but what it lacks in innovative it makes up for in superb level design, polish and overall refinement of its core mechanics. The animal friends are a fine addition too and provide incentive to return so you can further scope how their special powers can aid you in your adventure.

Random trivia: The next game in the Dream Land series was Kirby's Dream Land 3 (1997, SNES).

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