Game Reviews
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History Lesson: Kirby’s Dream Course (SNES)

When we think of our favorite pink puffball, we think of great platforming and interesting attacks you can harness by inhaling enemies.  When Kirby’s Dream Course came onto the scene back in 1996, it decided to change that up completely and gave Kirby a new mechanic to have fun with.  In Dream Course the player handles Kirby by treating him like a golf ball on the craziest mini-golf courses around.  I remember being a kid and just thinking, “What?!  How could they go for something so offbeat?,” but the truth is that it totally works.

Kirby’s Dream Course may have been a bit overshadowed by the mammoth Nintendo 64 about to be released.  It’s a shame I don’t hear too many people go on about this game, it’s just as great and charming as Kirby Super Star in my book.  Enough about nostalgia, let’s get into the actual mechanics of this superb golf title.  While many Kirby games can be labeled as easy, I would say the same does not go for Dream Course.  The challenge is that you must knock out every enemy, and in turn, the final enemy turns into the hole.  Everytime you miss an enemy, you lose one of four hit points you are assigned, once all four are lost you must replay the entire course…sounds simple, right?  The game is simple to play, yet hard to master; you have control over the height, spin, and power of your hit, so with all of these factors it can be very tough to land the perfect shot.  You will find yourself trying to perfect the art of bouncing Kirby off a wall at just the right angle to make him hit an enemy and then fall into the hole…I have never been addicted to a golf game in my life, so this was a first.

Single player won’t last you a long time, since there are only eight courses to play through (eight holes per course), but I think that the pick-up-and-play nature of the game will keep you coming back.  Don’t let the somewhat short length scare you off; if you are a perfectionist like myself, you won’t quit until you get gold medals on every course.  If you are good enough to score silver or gold medals on all of the normal courses, you are rewarded with an extra course, as well.  Again, may not be much, but I have always thought “quality over quantity”, and this game is bursting from the seams with quality.  The gameplay is solid, and I think the addition of items adds some depth.  I think my favorite power-ups were Parasol and Super-Jump, since they helped when I hit Kirby a bit too hard or in the wrong direction.  Tornado could be seen as quite useful, but it can be somewhat hard to control, as Kirby gets quite a boost, and you find yourself overshooting the hole.

While the single player was lots of fun, I think it shines just as brightly in the multiplayer mode, as well.  It’s a bit of a letdown to see only four playable courses.  Everything is the same from single player, but now you have to change up your strategy a bit.  Every time you hit an enemy you get a star, and sinking it in the hole gives you two stars, problem is, your friends can hit your old stars and obtain them.  Many times I found myself spending time just figuring out how to steal stars, rather than thinking about getting to the hole.  Stealing stars becomes a real game changer; in the course of one hole, you can go from a good lead to dead last, if your friend is a bit sneaky.  Apart from that, the item system is still intact and actually is even more important this time around.  I made some awesome comebacks in Multiplayer by just knowing the right time to use an offensive attack.  At the same time, I had instances were I would use a Super Jump too late, and end up flying off the edge of the stage.  Simply put, these items can be your friends or your enemies, so be patient and learn when to use them, this will make it hard for you to be defeated.

This game falls into a genre that is a bit odd; it’s not a platformer, and also comes off as an offbeat sport title…if anything, it would best be described as “unique.”  While it may have been forgotten by many, I am hoping that with the virtual console it finds a new audience or have us SNES fans remembering “the good ol’ days.”  Overall, everything from the bright graphics to the upbeat music are the definition of “charming”.  Just as fun as it was back in ’96, and I actually appreciate it more now than ever, since it seemed to have aged fairly well.  For just 800 points on the Wii Virtual Console, this is something that I think everybody should check out, even if mini-golf isn’t your thing.  At the very least, play it at a friends house, because just one course on this charming little title and you’ll be hooked.

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