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Virtual Console Essentials: Kirby's Dream Land

Sticking it to the man...

Poor old Kirby has taken more than the occasional critical drubbing around here. Mean old Matthew reckons the little pink cutie's adventures, clearly aimed at optimists, are so lacking in any sort of challenge that they barely qualify as platform games.

For that reason he probably won't like the fact we've spent some of our 3DS funds on this, so don't tell him, okay? This can be our little secret.

Making its debut on Game Boy in 1992, Kirby's Dream Land is the very first game in the series, and if you want an indication of how good it is relative to more recent Kirby games, bear in mind that subsequent titles followed Masahiro Sakurai's template almost to the letter.

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Dream Land might take barely half an hour to complete, but that half an hour is packed with enough fun and originality to have inspired an entire series of games. Not too shabby, right?

It's such an incredibly simple game, anyone can get to grips with it. Kirby can run and jump. He can suck in a load of air and inflate himself so he can fly by flapping his stubby little arms.

That's sort of weird when you think about it - Kirby with his lungs full of air would weigh ever so slightly more than he does after he's exhaled, right? And those arms wouldn't provide much lift anyway.

But that's what's cool about Kirby. He cares not for the laws of physics, so while Professor Castle is moaning about how it's stupid that Kirby can avoid danger by floating over the entire level, Kirby is drifting past at his own pace, thumbing his nose, whistling a happy tune and having a whale of a time.

Not that he has thumbs, and he can't really whistle because he'd let all his air out and fall onto some spikes, which would be quite painful. But he's certainly enjoying himself.

Compare this to Super Mario Land, which is also available on the 3DS Virtual Console. That's widely acknowledged as being the worst Mario platformer ever. It's extremely fiddly and frustrating, with tiny platforms about two pixels wide, and it lasts barely as long as Dream Land.

The graphics are ugly and you probably won't have much fun playing that game. Kirby, on the other hand, is just a nice way to pass a bit of spare time, and you get to listen to some of the best Game Boy music ever while you play. What's not to like?

By the way, if you think it's too easy, wait until you get to the final boss. He's a tough nut to crack, and the music gets all scary to show that he's not to be trifled with. Still think it was too easy? After you've completed it the first time, you get a secret code to access the hidden Extra Game, which is basically a much harder difficulty setting.

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Extra Game will eat you alive. It will chew you up and cough out your bones in a dusty little pellet, like an owl. You'll long for the time when you could just float away from danger, but Extra Game will drag you down to earth and give you a good hard shoeing. Be nicer to Kirby, okay?

Order Games Master here and have it delivered straight to your door

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