Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Obligatory spoiler warning if you haven't completed the game, though I really doubt anyone reading this would be playing the game slower than I do.
Aside from a few repetitive stages involving the racing car and the Kirby-bot, the vast majority are really unique and memorable, and I've had a lot of trouble just picking five!
5. Evergreen Lift
The final secret stage in Snow Land. Anyone who's been given this game as a Christmas present and blasted through the first four worlds in one sitting should find this stage perfectly suited to the holiday mood- the entire stage is one giant Christmas tree! You start at the base of the tree and pull on a ball of yarn attached to a star to raise the platform like an elevator, hence the name.
Although your ascent is filled with annoying enemies that throw snowballs at you and freeze you solid, the rest of the stage is literally bursting at the seams with Christmas vibe. The music used is the same one in the first stage of Snow Land, a perfectly-suited jingly tune, there are lights and baubles all over in the background, the beads are appropriately colored in white and red/white and green like Christmas decorations, and then you find out that in the grand scheme of things, the ultimate purpose of the lift platform isn't just to get you to the finish line, but also to bring the yarn star to the top of the tree! Very creative- you don't see many Christmas stages in platform games executed this well.
4. Outer Rings
This isn't the first time Kirby's been in a shoot-em-up situation in his games, but this is the first time where it isn't just restricted to a boss fight, but an entire stage's worth! If getting a taste of Rocket Kirby in Stellar Way, another stage in Space Land, wasn't enough, then you'll absolutely love this. Scrolling vertically upwards and filled with waves and lines of enemies it's a really fluffy version of all those classic arcade plane shooters we used to play. And really fun to boot too! You're going to want to shoot as many of the enemy waves as possible, no, not because destroying them all will give you weapon upgrades, but they reveal hidden stashes of beads and treasures. All ending with another fight with a space variant of Kracko. Lovely!
3. Fossil Reef
The epitome of a perfect water level (now if only other games could do it without the yarn style...not that I'm complaining!). Playing as a dolphin is great fun as you don't have to swim at the speed of a sea snail all the time and you actually have viable attacking power. But then they added in what makes water levels so fun for me- floating globes of water in mid-air! Don't ask me why, but I just find it dreamy and imaginative to move from one body of floating water to another and all the while the center of gravity is changing as you move through each one. It's slowly becoming a new trend- I've already seen four different Nintendo platform games with this stage gimmick.
The entire stage has you using Kirby's dolphin form to navigate through a large woolly cave and fly through the air with the help of floating water. And the accompanying music, which is brought over from the deep sea stage, is as epic in scale as the massive size of the cave you're in.
2. Frosty Wheel
Too bad, it's not a giant icy ferris wheel!
Frosty Wheel is the most quiet stage in the entire game, thanks to the calming music. Outside of the nostalgic Dream Land remixes, this is the best new track in the game for me. Though I could spend hours swooning over the music, that's not what I came here to talk about mainly. Kirby transforms into a car whenever he runs in every other stage, but not this one, instead turning into the cutest little sled you'll ever see. Unlike the car, the sled makes no noise at all and is a lot more difficult to control because of the slippery surface. The stage is full of cliffs and makes good use of your new form by giving you lots of slopes and ramps to jump and ski on. You can even skate over the water.
Frosty wheels (ahem) dot the entire stage as sparkly ferris-wheel platforms that spin when you step on them. They make a somewhat annoying jingle noise when ever you land on them. It wouldn't be a problem if the music wasn't so peaceful, but that's a big part why this stage is so high up on the list in the first place!
1. Whispy's Forest
At first, the revolutionary new look for Kirby. Then, no copy powers. Kirby is in brand new territory and we all had to get used to his new moves and the place he's landed himself in. Then came the moment when the Yarn World was all stitched back together again and then...Dream Land!
Sakurai said it best when he said that hearing this familiar theme song (an upbeat piano/melodica remix of the famous Green Greens tune) and getting to this stage made it feel like the player has 'returned to home'. While still remaining true to the new game mechanics, this and all subsequent stages in Dream Land re-introduces us to the little things we knew so well in Kirby games of old- the doors, the star and bomb blocks, the secret rooms, and the familiar looking landscape. Whispy Woods is the boss of this stage, but unlike in previous games, you're felling him with the almighty Kirby-bot this time! Nostalgia literally bled out of my eyes and nose when I first came here, and seeing the Dream Land I knew in an all new fashion is still my most favorite moment ever.