My first video game console was a SEGA Master System with Sonic the Hedgehog and Alex Kidd in Miracle World, and some years later I turned down the opportunity to get a PlayStation in favour of a SEGA Saturn and Sonic R. I even got a Dreamcast over a PS2! Anywho, as a kid, the words "Nintendo" and "Mario" never really registered in my vocabulary, at least not until 1994.
I remember the year well because it was the same time that Sonic 3 came out on the Mega Drive. In the UK, there were these little candy sticks you could buy that had the Genesis boxart for the game on the front...Anyway. I was visiting my cousins in Cambridge during that summer, and they had a Nintendo NES, along with the requisite games that every NES owner just had to have - Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, and the forgotten gem that was Home Alone 2. There was another game, however. One that, for a weekend at least, threatened to switch my allegiance from SEGA blue to Nintendo red. That game was Kirby's Adventure.
I'm not sure what it is that I instantly loved about the game, I just know that I instantly loved it. It might have been the infectious music, or the fact that this little pink blob was able to inhale characters to acquire powers like laser beams and swords. Whatever it was though, it opened my eyes to a games company that I had dismissed in favour of Sonic & Co. That's not to say I instantly got home and threw the Master System away. Nope, what I did was just go home and carry on as I had done previously, fanboying away. I did get a Game Boy Pocket, but never looked at the Kirby games. I had forgotten about him. Then the emulation era hit.
All of a sudden, I was able to relive the joy of Kirby's Adventure without needing a telly that was manufactured pre-1964 and a cartridge which would've been painful to play if you were asthmatic. Not just that, but I started looking at other games that Kirby had been in. The Kirby's Dream Land trilogy on the Game Boy, of which I have to say Dream Land 3 is a personal favourite. Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, a superb remake of Kirby's Adventure on the Game Boy Advance. By this point, I owned a Nintendo DS, so I started hunting out the DS and GBA titles. Kirby: Power Paintball (Canvas Curse in America), Kirby & the Amazing Mirror. I've played most of the games, and loved all of them.
Nowadays, I'm a lot more open minded with video games than I was back in 1994. I'm still a huge SEGA fan, but I play and appreciate games from other developers, Ninty included. And whilst I've really enjoyed the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Super Mario Galaxy, I keep coming back to Kirby. For me, he defines Nintendo. Kirby showed me that it's not all about finishing a level as quick as your little legs could go. It's not about shooting everything until they've died thrice over, only to be killed yourself by the epic monstrosity hiding behind that corner. Kirby showed me that, sometimes, a game can involve some great platforming, original character designs and well thought out gameplay, and just be flat out fun. And this isn't true for a game or two, it's true for the entire Kirby franchise.
It's a shame that, Kirby has seemingly become the forgotten franchise, especially in his 20th year, and whilst most Nintendo fans will cling lovingly to their Marios, Zeldas and Metroids, I'll just sit happily with my 3DS and Kirby's Adventure, reliving that weekend in 1994.
Let us know if you're a closet Sega-Kirby fan in the comments below!
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