Kirby's Dreamland 64 Preview

Kirby's Dreamland 64

Kirby hasn't always been given a fair shake, mostly given new games toward the end of a system's life (except Game Boy). Kirby's Dreamland (NES) and Kirby 3 (Super NES) came out after most gamers had already gone on to the PlayStation, the Saturn and the N64. Well, this time Kirby might just get his fair shake.

HAL Laboratory is developing Kirby's Dreamland 64, a 3D side-scrolling platform game in much the same style as Pandemonium or Klonoa. Playing as Kirby, you must rescue a fairy that has been kidnapped by a mysterious enemy. You collect crystals scattered throughout the game's levels to save her.

Gameplay is almost identical to previous Kirby adventures, in that you can suck up enemies and spit them out as ammunition, or steal an enemy's secret powers (by turning into a bomb, gaining a super-speed dash, or breathing ice breath). This time, you can combine abilities with enemy weapons, which will result in different effects. All the backgrounds and environments are 3D, though in most of the stages shown at Space World, you could move only in a limited 2D space. Levels included a forest, a grassy field, and castle levels where you work your way around and inside a castle to ascend its tower.

Cutscenes are all done in real time, in a "cropped" (black bars on all four sides) fashion. When you meet up with a boss, you see it as a cinema. After completing levels, you get a chance to grab some power-ups via a well-placed jump across a picnic blanket spread with them. You only get one shot at it, though.

As far as bosses go, it's very similar to previous Kirby games. However, one very cool boss uses his paintbrush to draw enemies for Kirby to fight. You fight two to three forms of this boss before finishing. The drawings are flat, 2D, PaRappa-style characters, and they look as though they've been sketched with crayons.

There were only three levels open for play at Space World, and the game - which is currently 50 percent complete - won't be released until March 2000.

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