Kirby’s Dream Land 3 came out originally on the SNES very, very late in its life, slightly over 13 months after the launch of the Nintendo 64. As such, few people ended up playing it, but thanks to its availability on the Virtual Console, more people can now be exposed to it.
The first thing about the game you will notice is how fantastic it looks. Not unlike Yoshi’s Island, the game goes for a hand-drawn look, but unlike the crayon look of that game, KDL3 looks more like it was drawn with Prismacolor pencils. The game will sometimes sport bold colors, but most of the time, the colors will be more subdued and soft. At times it feels like a slightly higher resolution would have been all that’s needed to convince us we’re playing a drawing.
Just like in most Kirby games, you inhale enemies to steal their powers, and while these powers don’t have multiple uses like they did in Kirby Super Star, they can be modified when you mount one of several animal helpers.
Kirby can also puff up and float all over the levels designed around this ability. To prevent you from floating your way over an entire level, the skies are filled with as many enemies as there are on the ground. You WILL have to fight. Kirby games have the reputation of being easy, but quite frankly I bet my death count would be embarrassing. Kirby can take 10 hits before losing a life, but with the sparse healing items and the fact that you don’t heal up automatically after clearing a level, that’s not as generous as it may first seem.
At the cost of one health square, you can summon a companion for a second player to control. If you’re by yourself, that companion can be controlled by the AI, but I found him to be more of a hindrance than help.
You can just blow through the 30 levels, but if you do, you will not get to face the game’s true final boss and see the ending. Each of levels has a secret star that you have to earn sometimes through a minigame, sometimes through puzzle-solving, and these can be a source of great frustration.
There were a few stars that were satisfying to get, for instance one involving a platforming challenge using an animal helper that did not have Kirby’s unlimited floating ability, or another involving cameos from another Nintendo franchise. But I would say that for the most part, these stars were no fun to get at all. The minigames through which you win some of them are incredibly hard, and the puzzles to get some of the others, very obtuse. It’s likely you’ll have to restart the long levels from the beginning over and over again until you finally understand what the game wants from you, or get lucky at the minigames. It feels like a ploy to artificially lengthen the game’s length.
Another frustration is Kirby’s maddeningly slow speed. You can, and will, double tap a direction on the D-pad to run, but that gets old quickly.
Despite the issues, however, I did have a good time through most of the game. I suppose however that I can only truly recommend it to Kirby fans of die-hard platformer fans.
I remember walking into Gamestop a few years back and seeing both this and Kirby Super Star, which shocked me because by that point they only had like 25 SNES games or so and most were crappy sports games. I was tempted to grab up both, but I walked out with only Super Star, because I had heard all of this praise for it.
Nice review. I'm not very caught up on Kirby games, the only ones I've finished are Kirby's Adventure via the VC and Kirby Canvas Curse. I am slowly playing through Kirby Super Star, basically whenever my girlfriend has free time. So, Dreamland 1 and 2 were GB games? Odd for Nintendo to make a sequel on the SNES, and so late in its life.
A couple of questions: Are Metaknight and Dedede in it? And how would you rate Kirby Super Star, independently?
Super Star would be an 8, it takes a bit too long to really get started, but the highs are higher, IMO, and it doesn't have as many frustrations. Plus the multiple "moves" for each power and the gameplay variety really puts it a notch above.
Meta Knight (Metaknight?) isn't in the game as far as I've noticed (I certainly didn't fight him). Dedede is.
Dedede's sort of a grump, but not really evil. He has a tendency to be greedy and selfish (not unlike Kirby, actually), but generally cares a little less about the welfare of Dreamland than Kirby does.
I wasn't a big fan of KDL3 from what I played, but I looooove Super Star. It's a top 30 or 40 game for me. The visuals, music, and gameplay variety are just excellent, as is the co-op.
I like seeing where a lot of the stuff in Kirby 64 came from: the jumping bonus game at the end of each level, the symbols for each of the power ups (needle, fire, etc), collecting the small star bits to earn lives. Of course, I've never played Kirby's Dream Land 2, so some of this stuff may have been in that game already as well.
Oh man, the music in this game is totally underwhelming; it's just not as satisfying or catchy as other Kirby games. A lot of the new tracks are a little bit annoying; the sound quality leaves a bit to be desired. Even the remixes of previous Kirby tunes lose something. This game has my least favorite version of 'Gourmet Race':
Not unlike Yoshi’s Island, the game goes for a hand-drawn look, but unlike the crayon look of that game, KDL3 looks more like it was drawn with Prismacolor pencils. The game will sometimes sport bold colors, but most of the time, the colors will be more subdued and soft.
Agreed. The art style in the game is nice but the graphics are overly simplistic, especially the backgrounds when you have like three scrolling cloud layers that aren't even intersecting (it reminds me of an advanced NES game sometimes). And the animation is so crude.
Each of levels has a secret star that you have to earn sometimes through a minigame, sometimes through puzzle-solving, and these can be a source of great frustration.
Definitely. Collecting the Heart Stars is not that enjoyable, as the method for doing so is usually obtuse, like you said. Sometimes it's not that hard to figure out. For example: 'that flower is sad that I trampled the other flowers, maybe I have to be careful not to step on them.' Sure enough, it works. But then you have something so nonsensical such as needing Chu Chu (the pink blob thing that rides on Kirby's head) to lick or smack the green coil character using her attack to make him happy. Yup.
Getting to the end of World 2, the game does start getting more interesting, such as using the light bulb attack to reveal hidden doors, or watching out for enemies disguised as doors.
One Heart Star that is aggravating to obtain is the Gordo face memory game in 3-3! The 3rd round flashes so quickly, and there's more than one kind of face. Screw it up, and you have to repeat the level again if you want to try the mini game.
The Fuzzies from Yoshi's Island's "touch fuzzy get dizzy" even make an appearance, except here they simply hurt you when you touch them rather than give you a cool hallucinogenic effect. It's called a pasara...
Um, and what's up with the weird looking Kirby clones that you can't actually attack, it's called Batamon...
Overall, I would have to say this is definitely not one of my favorite Kirby games, it's a bit rough around the edges.
I remember being so disappointed when I rented this as a kid. I thought it looked so good, but then I got an incredibly slow game that seemed to take about 10 steps back from Super Star when it came to Kirby's powers.
In Super Star, every power just seemed so well developed. You got one ability...but you usually got 3 moves out of it. An ability did one thing while Kirby was running, one while jumping, one while standing still, etc. I think this is how it works in KRtDL as well?
In the end, I just remember it feeling like a better looking and slower/easier version of Kirby's Dreamland 2 that I couldn't play on the toilet.
Edit: Also, they did Mass Attack...when are we going to get Kirby's Mass Effect? You play Kirby as he roams the galaxy making important moral decisions and upgrading your charm/intimidate stat on a regular basis. Which I guess in Kirby's case would be his suck/blow stat.
Hah, I like the idea of Kirby's Mass Effect. Make it happen, HAL!
I also agree about the feeling of KDL3 being underwhelming compared to Super Star. A major reason is because different teams did different Kirby games--one team, led by Sakurai, handled Kirby's Adventure and Kirby Super Star, while a separate team did Dream Land 2, 3, and Kirby 64 (occasionally referred to as fans as "the Dark Matter trilogy"). Of course, I didn't know this at the time and was mainly wondering why Kirby moved so slow and his moveset was so bland.
And yeah, KRtDL has the Super Star system for abilities, and adds a few extra moves here and there for good measure.
Yeah I don't know what it is about KDL3. Maybe I'll have to give it another shot someday. I just remember it being so laid back, even compared to the stellar Kirby's Dreamland 2. Maybe it's the kind of game that would be more enjoyable on a handheld?
It's so sad to read such comments. Kirby's Dream Land 3 is the essential Kirby game, it's the culmination of the style, variety, music, pacing, and fun that the series is known for... or should be known for. It saddens me to see Kirby Super Star as the most famous Kirby game, the one Kirby game that totally missed the spirit of Kirby and is more like a beat 'em up in some ways. The series is so underappreciated...
I suppose some of my complaints are superficial, but looking back, I think my biggest problem with the game is definitely collecting the Heart Stars. I honestly don't know how you're supposed to figure some of them out, while others are one-shot only and often luck-based. I haven't seen such frustration when going for 100% in other Kirby games.
If the Heart Stars were optional, I wouldn't complain as much. But the player is required to collect them all to see the last part of the game, as well as the ending.
@roykoopa64 They still are optional, just like how you can beat Super Mario Galaxy with 60 stars. But I agree that some are too obtuse, and to be fair, I completed the game in co-op with a friend who had already beaten it. She knew how to collect them all so I avoided the frustration of figuring out the more obscure ones. The game's certainly not perfect, but I still think it's the best Kirby game.