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Genre: Platformer
Year: 1992
Developed by: HAL Laboratory
Published by: Nintendo
Platforms: Game Boy
#457
Feeling Like: Back to basics

I can’t remember the first video game I played. Either my memory is fading, or I’ve enjoyed so many video games that they all mix together like a digital salad. Tetris and Super Mario Brothers surely are among them, but they’re only faint memories of my first life in Halifax, where I was still learning how to be alive and realizing my two sisters weren’t temporary.

Kirby’s Dream Land is certainly the first game I dove deep into and beat multiple times. Often in the same day. A seasoned expert can beat it in under an hour, so it’s hardly a surprise that eight year old Henry mastered the art of wasting time in this way. This all took place well before Kirby was a vehicle for Nintendo’s unbounded creativity, before Kirby could absorb powers, before Kirby was a Smash Brother and before colors invaded Dream Land.

I know it sounds weird, but the game still looks really good. This is a leftover relic from the Game Boy days, one of the oldest pieces of hardware still in memory of modern gaming. A portable system to boot. Yet the sprites are so creatively designed, so upbeat in nature that it’s still endearing. Almost everything has a smile on its face, the outlines are drawn to perfection and the animation is anything but stiff.

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My first foray with the flying fuzzball of frenzied feasting.

I can’t recommend it today, but that hardly means it’s not worth playing. Stages are a breeze, you won’t be stumped by any puzzles, bosses telegraph their moves a mile away and it’s eminently satisfying to suck and spit enemies out at a moment’s notice. It would be repetitive, but Kirby’s Dream Land never overstays it’s welcome.

I was thankful to be reminded that the melodies hold up. Float Islands will lower your cholesterol, DeDeDe’s fight will safely raise your heart rate and the end theme will remind you of the fun you just had, all in the palm of your hands while your parents are driving you back from Chemanius to see your Uncle, or something. The only downside was the original Game Boy wasn’t backlit, so you had to time your jumps and movements with the passing of the streetlights.

You’d see a lot of Kirby’s Dream Land‘s graduation in Kirby’s Adventure, still my favorite Kirby game. But on the Game Boy is where he learned his fundamentals and it’s likely why I chose him as my primary in Super Smash Brothers. I was infinitely aware of his movements, both on the ground and in the air, and the thought of controlling him over and over again was all too tempting, and birthed here.

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