Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land is a cutesy 2D platformer for the Game Boy Advance. It is a remake of the Nintendo Entertainment System game Kirby’s Adventure, another installment in the Kirby series of games. You’re on a quest to return the Star Rod to the Fountain of Dreams so that people may dream once more. However, King Dedede is guarding the magical item, so it’s up to Kirby to save the day. As always, Kirby can run, jump, fly, and use his patented copy ability to consume foes and use their powers as his own. You platform your way through various stages in seven different worlds, mainly trying to reach the exits. These stages are filled with various enemies, minibosses, and lots of different powers to try out. There are also some branching paths and secrets to be found that can unlock more areas on the overworld. Each area ends with a big boss fight before letting you move on to the next one. The overwold sections also contain special rooms where you can compete in one of three sub games for extra lives, fight minibosses in arenas for their powers or a health refill, and museums that will give you a set selection of powers without any effort.
The sub games can also be selected from the main menu to be played at any time. There are three of them. One has four Kirbys hitting a bomb back and forth until three of them fail to time their hits properly and explode. Another has the four Kirbys racing each other while grinding their stars on rails. You need to hold A to grind hard and go faster, but grinding on the spiky patches will slow you down. However, letting go right on the edge of the spikes as well as starting to grind again immediately after them can each give you a small speed boost if you time it right. The last of these games is similar to the quick draw game from the original on the NES. You are faced against multiple opponents with swords, staring each other down. When the exclamation point appears you hit A as immediately as possible in order to beat their speed. These games are also optional in the adventure mode and seem to reset when you reset the game in order to give you a method to regain your extra lives, which also reset with each power down. Other differences between the two versions seem mostly aesthetic such as the music and visuals.
This game is a blast. It’s Kirby’s Adventure in the palm of your hand! It’s fun to breeze through the pleasing environments, listening to the cool music and satisfying sound effects. Finding the secrets adds some challenge and the sub games give you a nice little break between stages while also giving you some lives. It’s not terribly long, but it’s a good length of a game, especially for being such a simple, fun experience. I guess the simplicity and fun are what keep me coming back to the Kirby series. You can even unlock stuff like boss rush, extra mode, and a mode where you speedrun the game as Meta Knight. There’s plenty here to keep you coming back for more, even if it’s just occasionally playing through the main campaign every so often.
There aren’t many downsides to this one. I guess I do prefer the 8-bit style of the original, and naming this Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land did result in me getting Kirby’s Adventure on the Wii eShop only to find I accidentally bought the same game again. Stupid marketing crap. I think the requirement to beat the game twice in a row, once on normal and again on extra, just to unlock the Meta Knightmare mode is a bit much, though. It’s a cool reward, but it’s annoying to be expected to just play basically the same thing twice to unlock a notably different mode. Not to mention that some of the locations of the secrets are downright evil. The multiplayer capability sounds like it could be fun, but needing the GBA link cable makes it a very unlikely scenario to play this way, especially these days.
So it’s not perfect, but just taking the game at face value should leave you satisfied and smiling. It’s not the easiest Kirby game, but it’s one of the best. Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land brings you all of the fun of Kirby’s Adventure with updated aesthetics you can enjoy anywhere and anytime. I’d call it the definitive version of the game. If you have a Game Boy Advance and don’t own this game or Kirby’s Adventure, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Not that Kirby’s Adventure is much worse itself, and that version is probably more available. But I hear this one is available on the Wii U eshop so that’s at least good for the SNES fans as it feels more comparable to something of that caliber when tied to a home console. It’s worth a good 20 bucks for a classic you’ll be playing more times than you might think, so check it out if you can find it for that much or less. And I’m counting this review for both games probably so… so there! Though I’m sure this won’t be the last I see of the almighty vacuum.