Kirby’s Dream Land 2 is a cutesy 2D platformer for the Game Boy. This is actually the third installment in main series of Kirby games. The first game, Kirby’s Dream Land, also came out on the Game Boy prior. It featured the titular character and his ability to walk, jump, fly, inhale, and shoot out enemies and objects. There were also a few powerups present at specific sections to grant invulnerability for a time or to replenish health among other things. The game was linear, with stages leading to various bosses until the final encounter with the series antagonist, King Dedede. The second game in the series, Kirby’s Adventure, was released on the NES late in its lifetime. This game added in an overworld for selecting and returning to levels. It also was presented in color. The most notable inclusion was Kirby’s now-famous copy ability, which allowed him to devour certain enemies and use their powers as his own. Then comes Kirby’s Dream Land 2, once again on the Game Boy. It takes many elements from the NES entry and tries to scale them down to fit on a Game Boy cartridge. The overworlds and copy abilities carried over, though the worlds housed less levels and the number of copy abilities were lessened. The game also took the idea of secrets hidden within the levels, which require specific abilities to access. And if played on a Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, or Super Game Boy, it even included a colorful display. So a lot of it sounds like the same kind of thing just scaled down to the Game Boy’s hardware limitations. Well, that’s not all.
Kirby’s Dream Land 2 introduced an interesting new idea. This is the first game of the series to give Kirby animal partners. There’s a hamster that commands on land, an owl that’s fair in the air, and a fish that can slaughter underwater. Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses, and each one has their own health bar so they provide extended endurance if nothing else. The thing that makes each one even more unique is that they all react to your copy abilities in different ways. For example, when Kirby has the fire ability he will dash across the screen when he attacks. When he has this ability on the hamster, the hamster will breathe fire. The owl will do a diagonally downward fiery lunge, and the fish will shoot fireballs. So while the copy abilities are limited, there are generally four ways each one can be used. You’ll need to have the right power and the right animal partner to get those secrets as well, so experimentation is encouraged. Each area has a number of levels, one secret item to find within one of the levels, and a boss fight. Defeating all of the bosses will award you one ending, but obtaining all of the secret items and then defeating the bosses will unlock the true final boss and the best ending if you can defeat it. Then the credits roll and that’s pretty much it.
As with most Kirby games, I really like how much fun this one is. The catchy music, satisfying sound effects, and cutesy atmosphere all come together to make for a fun experience. It’s not terribly difficult either, which is nice for a change of pace now and then. The different abilities and animal partners give it something different than the previous ones as well. I also think there are quite a few different characters in this game as well. The length isn’t too long and it saves after every level so it’s nice to have a pick up and play experience that’s not a long-winded adventure as well. There are even three different save files for multiple people to play. It’s pretty great. It’s an interesting implementation of ideas from Kirby’s Adventure with new ideas to keep it unique. However, this game did have one big flaw.
The secret items you need to unlock the final boss are a bit on the rough side. Some are hidden pretty well, and a few of them are downright infuriating to obtain even if you know exactly where they are and how to get them. They aren’t impossible to get, but they go against the part I love about these games. I don’t go to Kirby games for a test of my hardcore gaming skills. Imagine if you kept dying to a boss in Dark Souls and then you just found an item that made you invincible for the fight. Yes, it might feel good to finally beat that boss and progress in a simple manner, but that’s not what you go into a Dark Souls game to do. I play Kirby games to have some light, innocent fun. These frustrating secrets keeping me from a good ending just spit in the face of that concept. Then again, to be fair, you don’t HAVE to find them. It’s still a satisfying end even if you don’t. In fact, it might be more satisfying if you don’t because you’ll have spared yourself the headache. Or maybe I’m just making excuses for sucking at a Kirby game. Who knows?
All in all, Kirby’s Dream Land 2 is still a fun time to be had on your Game Boy. If you liked the first one, or Kirby’s Adventure, or just the Kirby series in general, then I can easily recommend this game to you. For twenty bucks or less it’s a great addition to your Game Boy library. It may not be the best, or my favorite Kirby game, but it certainly delivers a familiar and interesting experience. Now the pressure is on to finally get a copy of the first game and review it already… even though I probably should’ve waited and done that first……… oops.