Does It Hold Up: Kirby’s Adventure

Friday, November 30th, 2012

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Games are never what we remember them to be… unless we never played them to begin with. When comparing a retro classic to a modern game, we need to stop and ask ourselves “Does it hold up?”  We continue our series into the past with a little pink puffball that eats everything in sight…


Kirby's Adventure

Title: Kirby’s Adventure
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Console: NES, Wii VC
Release Date: May 1, 1993
February 12, 2007
Genre: Platformer
Rating: E

I’m one of the few members of the Operation Rainfall staff that didn’t grow up with the NES. Most of my experience with the system was when I went over to my friends’ house to play their older sister’s NES. Given that other, more interesting systems were available, it was like dreaming of listening to CDs with a brand new boombox as you’re listening to your grandpa’s old record player. It didn’t help that most of the games my friends had were total crap.

Several years later, I got myself a Wii and decided to buy some titles from Nintendo’s older consoles. While some older NES games were indeed crap, there were quite a few gems to be found here. One of which was Kirby’s Adventure. Considering how I liked Kirby: Canvas Curse and Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, I was interested in seeing its origins on the NES…well, its remake on the NES, anyways.


The thing that jumped out at me from the beginning was the music. It was all cheerful, upbeat, and very catchy. They compliment the bright, colorful visuals nicely. My favorite tracks are Green Greens, the Rainbow Resort, the boss battles, and the final boss themes. I’d say some of the tracks in this game are on par with several 8-bit tracks from Konami. And Konami’s made some of the best tracks on the NES.

The gameplay was also quite good. If you’ve played a Kirby game before, you know what to expect by now; suck up bad guys, get their powers, kill everything. Some levels are designed to be played with a specific power, spawning enemies that will give you the power that best fits the situation. That said, it never forces you to use said power in the level, since you can go in with the power you’ve previously obtained and get through the level just fine. My favorite ability is the Cutter ability, which I’ve used to get through levels just fine.

While several older NES titles are just downright sadistic, Kirby’s Adventure keeps the game relatively balanced. Make no mistake; you’re probably going to die a fair number of times. But unlike Super Mario Bros, you don’t get thrown back all the way to the beginning of the game. You simply go back to the world map so that you can try that level again. And unlike Kid Icarus, the levels are a joy to run through again. It’s one of those rare NES games that can be challenging without being frustrating.


A common complaint of the Kirby games is that they’re incredibly short. Unfortunately, that’s the case here. It took me around 6 hours to get through the game. Of course, I only rushed through the worlds and beat all the bosses, which showed me only having completed 71% of it. Getting a 100% completion rating will unlock the Extra Game mode, which gives you half of the health you usually have and doesn’t save your progress (talk about unfair). I’m sure some people (read: psychotics) would be interested in that level of challenge, but most people will probably be completely uninterested, like I was.

Also, the implementation of a lives system seems unnecessary. As I mentioned before, you’ll be taken back to the map screen of the world you’re in if you run out. While it’s not nearly as bad and rage-inducing as Super Mario Bros. taking you all the way back to the beginning of the game when you run out of lives, it still feels unwelcome. It’s just a way to artificially make the game last longer. Some of you will most likely rush to the comments section to defend the lives systems in older video games. Tough nuts. This feature is called “Does It Hold Up”. I’m not judging it by 80s standards, I’m judging it by today’s standards. And by today’s standards, lives systems just plain suck.


A majority of titles from the NES library are some of the most difficult games you’ll ever play, by today’s standards. Kirby’s Adventure is one of the few games that’s essentially the Goldilocks of the library. It’s not insanely difficult, but it’s not ridiculously easier either. It’s just right. And at $5, it’s definitely something worth picking up.

Kirby’s Adventure was developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo. It’s available now on the Wii’s Virtual Console for 500 Wii Points.

About Kyle Emch

Kyle has been studying music at college for about three years now. He's played the piano since he was 6 years old and has been recently been learning how to write music. He has followed the Operation Rainfall movement on Facebook since it started and was happy to volunteer for the website. Just don't mention Earthbound or the Mother franchise around him.