Man, we're getting old. We still remember the first time we got introduced to Kirby's Adventure on the NES, getting into a platforming/action game that didn't have the Mario name plastered on it and still having a preposterously fun time swallowing enemies and using their abilities, like a sword and a laser beam. Fast forward 20 years and you'll see how much Kirby's legacy has grown through a number of sequels as well as appearances in games like the Super Smash Bros. series.
To celebrate his legacy – and perhaps give him a push into a possible re-introduction on the forthcoming Wii U system down the road – Nintendo has released a special 20th Anniversary Special Collection for Nintendo Wii in Japan. This compilation includes a number of his best adventures, along with an interactive museum and other goodies. Nintendo has confirmed that it will be making its way to the States on September 16th and recently invited us to go hands-on with a near-final build of the game to see how it's shaping up.
The collection includes a number of the side-scrolling favorites with the pink puffball, including the original Kirby's Adventure, Kirby Super Star (SNES), Kirby's Dream Land 1 through 3 and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. They've all been restored with accurate emulation tools, so the games are the same now as they were then and if you've never played them before, you're in for quite a treat.
The general story with Kirby involves saving Dream Land from threats, and though King Dedede first starts out as Kirby's main adversary, he soon grows into an ally in his later platforming games as more menacing enemies appear on the horizon. This is an interesting tactic, but nevertheless a fun one. The series has also introduced a number of other characters that have made returning appearances, including Meta Knight who also serves as an addition to the Smash Bros. roster.
Anyway, the Kirby games follow a simple side-scrolling formula and he can hold his breath if he needs to fly. But Kirby's best tool for the trade is being able to eat enemies and digest them, thus acquiring their abilities. Some are simple like the ones we mentioned above, but later games like Kirby 64 let you combine abilities if you swallow two enemies at once, creating rock bombs or other creative tools of the trade. It's so much fun just going through the game each time and experimenting with the best weapons you can possibly create.
As we said, the reproduction behind each game is quite loyal to the originals. The NES version looks like a blast from the past, complete with the animations and the classic chip tunes, especially the boss themes. And the newer games aren't bad either, particularly Kirby 64, which introduces a 3D universe while still using 2D gameplay in the best way possible.
Unfortunately, the collection does come up a bit short when it comes to offering some of Kirby's other adventures, like Kirby Air Ride, Kirby's Avalanche and Kirby's Dream Course. Nintendo makes up for this exclusion with an awesome museum feature, which runs in real time and is fully interactive.
The museum allows you to run back and forth between chapters in the series, entering any game that's playable or learning more about what was put into it, complete with screenshots and other interactive goodies. Kirby looks adorable running back and forth across this menu and the surrounding museum is bright and colorful as well, paying tribute to the digestive hero in all the right ways.
Last but not least, there are a couple of games in the Kirby's 20th Anniversary Special Collection that support co-op play, where a partner can drop in and help you out as a secondary character. While Kirby still remains the main draw here, the other characters are delightful as well, especially a cool little blue jelly blob that seems to show ridiculous facial impressions no matter what you do with him. It's definitely worth grabbing a friend or family member and to play through the game with them.
This Special Collection possibly marks the end of the Wii era, as Nintendo focuses its attention on the upcoming Wii U launch. It looks like a heck of a way to go out, paying tribute to one of its greatest icons with hours of playable games and goodies. Be sure to check it out and cheer the little guy on when it hits stores next week.