Kirby’s Adventure was released on May 1, 1993 in North America for the NES. It was one of the final games to see release on the console and its launch was 8 years after the initial release of the NES. At this late stage in the console’s life cycle (and two years into the life of its successor), the developers at HAL Laboratory were able to take full advantage of the NES hardware and exploit it in different ways to ultimately create one of the best-looking and most technically impressive games on the console.
Directed by Masahiro Sakurai, Kirby’s Adventure is the second game in the series following its debut on the Game Boy just a year before. Here, we see Kirby really come to life in a way that the Game Boy was not able to do (although the Game Boy game had its own technically impressive features). When the Game Boy game was first released, the localization team in North America had not realized Kirby was a pink character. The box art for the character showed him as a white version of himself, while he had been marketed in his recognized pink in Japan. The developers at HAL made sure on the NES that the character’s color was apparent.
The game was released on a larger storage capacity cartridge, and it clocks in as the second largest game on the platform at 6 megabits. With this, the developers are able to create something that uses as many different concurrent colors as Kirby’s Adventure does and Kirby is rife with character animation.
After feedback from the first game that it had been too small, the developers wanted to make a bigger game. Former president of Nintendo and HAL, Satoru Iwata recalled “Someone said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if Kirby planted a flag when he beats the level and comes out of the door!’ And before you knew it, I had programmed it myself. These types of character animation were scattered throughout the game to give more life and personality to the character.
This is the first game in the series to introduce the character’s signature copy ability, where previously he could only suck up and spit out an enemy. Here, Kirby can take the power of a defeated enemy when the player sucks up an enemy and presses down to make Kirby swallow the gobbled up foe. There are twenty-six different abilities in the game.
These abilities came about as a way to increase the difficulty of the game. Feedback from the first game also lamented the simplicity of the gameplay and how easy it was to complete a stage. The copy abilities gave the player new ways to interact with enemies and new challenges to face. Although, should the player choose to, combat can be avoided almost entirely. If the player chooses, Kirby can float high above any of the action and avoid most combat in the game. A lot can be lost by avoiding it, but it gives the player the choice to take an alternate path should the gameplay become too difficult.
Like Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Kirby’s Adventure is littered with secrets that unlock new levels and bonus stages. The game itself consists of seven main worlds, each with their own set of levels inside. The end of a world is signified by the defeat of a boss character.
Kirby’s Adventure remains the standard for the typical Kirby game formula, with many following its structure. However, Kirby games have usually been known for their willingness to break away from tradition and try unconventional ways of playing or progressing. They too are also commonly found at the end of a console’s lifecycle.
Kirby’s Adventure has been rereleased on Virtual Console for Wii, Wii U and as a 3D Classic on the 3DS. It was remade as Nightmare in Dreamland on Game Boy Advance and featured in NES Remix 2.