9.5

I don't even want to call this a game. It's raw, pure happiness on a disk.

Think back to the first time you played something like Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, LittleBigPlanet, or maybe even Pokemon; back to when you first saw The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland. Remember how taken aback you were by all of the vivid colors, childlike simplicity and cuteness, strange but oddly familiar regions, and that feeling of wonder and curiosity? Yeah, it's like that. Given that you have a heart (or at least don't try to hide the fact), it makes for a great and one of a kind experience.

Of course the presentation isn't everything in a video game and really shouldn't even matter for the most part, but it has to be talked for this one. Nintendo really took the graphical limitations of their console and not only got by with them, but made it work to their advantage. How?... just make everything 2D but have it look like something you'd find in your grandmother's sewing bag or a baby's furniture store. It sounds as minimalistic as you can get without going the way of retro graphics, but seeing it in action is a different story. Cloth depresses and folds, yarn swings and sways, the textures are spot on; everything looks, well... pretty much how you'd expect it to (in a good way). Outside of the graphics, colors are generally cool but eye-catching and the music probably isn't what you'd expect, but still very well done. It's nice and breezy, mostly piano oriented, and just fits. Level design is very clever and you'll probably find yourself stopping for a second once in a while just to sit back and smile about what just happened. This helps the game in a big way since completionists will more than likely be running through levels more than once anyway.

Now, a lot of people tend to point out that the game is too easy. I can't say I disagree and really, with everything else I've already said, it seems like it would just make sense. The controls are pretty typical 2D platformer fare with a nice swinging mechanic thrown in, and the goal of the game itself is just to collect beads. The only penalty for doing something that would kill you in most games is losing beads. Sometimes you collect beads on a surfboard, sometimes you do it as a UFO, but you're always collecting beads. Honestly, some of the "enemies" just waddle on their marry way and bump into you at the most. None of this should hinder your experience in any way because it's just THAT fun... unless you absolutely need to kill and avoid being killed. Some challenge is there, but it comes from trying to collect more beads than you did the last time and trying to find all of the collectibles, which aren't always the easiest to get to. Oh, did I say collectibles?

Outside of exploring the expertly crafted levels and trying to progress/beat your score, a good portion of your time will probably be spent tricking out Kirby's pad with objects you find or buy and playing games with his friends. To make this short, just think of it like Animal Crossing in a fully 2D space and without the nagging landlord. As for the mini-games, they're actually quite fun and not what you'd expect when you hear "Wii" and "mini-games". Generally, the idea is that you're taken to a closed off portion of a level and have to find your friends or collect beads with one of the transformations in a set time. Throw in the secret levels and you have a lot to mess around with when you think Kirby needs some down time.

Now, I won't lie to you; kids will certainly love this game. The second group that will love it are the gamers. Not the ones that play to be better than someone else or boost their ego, not the ones that can only derive pleasure from dealing and avoiding death at every possible second. No; this is for gamers that can see and embrace when a game has no intentions other than to be a fun, thoughtfully crafted experience. The ones that remember why they started playing games in the first place.

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