I can’t remember the first time I played this game, but I had a revelation when I slid that cartridge in and turned on my old brick of a gameboy (that’s still running to this day without a hitch): This game, and any game related to it, would shape my childhood and have me hooked for life.
In reality, Kirby’s Dreamland is probably the least Kirby-like of the main series. Imagine, if you will, a main-series Mario platformer without your fire flower. Mario 2 doesn’t count, as it’s not a real Mario game. Or Donkey Kong without barrel cannons. That’s the best way to describe Kirby’s Dreamland; it feels so strange to be stuck in one place while inhaling or being completely defenseless underwater. Not to mention not being able to run and the lack of Kirby’s distinct copy power.
But it’s not all ‘What is this and where is my ability to copy enemies and slide and run and stuff?’ A lot of the mainstays of the series make their first appearance. Invincibility Candy shows up half-way through stage two, Bronto Burts and Cappies populate the levels, and – of course – the bosses that we’ve all come to love. Or hate, as far as Lololo and Lalala are concerned. Two on one isn’t cool, HAL!
However, for everything that did show up, a lot of stuff just went missing after this or Kirby’s Adventure. Spicy Curry reared its fiery, edible head in the original game only to go on some kind of spicy training course for the next sixteen-or-so years, popping back into existence as Superspicy Curry in Smash Bros. Brawl. Which is sad, because despite Invicibilty Candy’s super-fast music and speed (in later games!), Spicy Curry was just fun. Although, I guess it was phased out when Kirby could copy fire enemies for a similar-but-longer effect… Well, it’s not as bad as the Mint Leaf/Sweet Potato, which only showed up twice in only this game.
Also, tons of enemies never get another shot after this, including the pseudo-Scarfy Two Face and the Waddle Dee stand-in Wizzer (who I totally beat without shooting something at him, despite the wiki’s claims!). While I’m at it, the pre-boss stages in Mt. Dedede never really showed up again either, nor did their dancing, walking, or flying Kirbies.
All in all, Kirby’s Dreamland has a really special place in my heart. It may not be the greatest or even my favorite Kirby game, but it set a standard: It was a game for kids, with difficulty, gameplay and visuals that matched. It was a happy, feel good game with some nifty little things that I wouldn’t mind see coming back for whatever they do for Kirby’s 25th anniversary. Speaking of standards, the one set by Kirby’s Dremland would be pretty broken by the time by the time Kirby’s Adventure came out. Now if you fine folks will excuse me, I have a 20-year score to settle with King Dedede. (Spoiler: I lose.)