Summer Gaming Challenge #3 – Kirby’s Return to Dream Land

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Quick Info on Kirby’s Return to Dream Land:
Console  – Wii (re-released digitally on Wii U, unchanged)
Release Year – 2011
Metacritic Score – 77
Time it took to beat – ~7h

Now, this was fun!  Around E3 I got really busy and couldn’t really play many games, and then after that I had the sudden whim of trying to freelance write again, and that combined by getting distracted by Steam Summer Sale titles I’m back to business.  Mostly.  My day job also got rather stressful, so I needed something easier and just… happier to play than most of the games on my list.  So I started up Kirby’s Return to Dream Land!

Like any good Kirby game, it’s bright, colorful, and has a sweet little story that really doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things.  You also have to collect little doo-dads that may or not unlock a special true ending if you collect them all (spoiler alert: The doo-dads unlock an Extra Mode which is basically a harder mode of the game).  Also thankfully, these McGuffins aren’t too hard to collect most of as along as you’re observant and explore, which is good considering sometimes it can hard to know what you need to do and when in some of the previous titles.  It’s essentially a Kirby game (and not a weird Kirby game like Rainbow Curse or Mass Attack, a… normal one), and that’s exactly what I came here for.

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Return to Dream Land actually does emphasize multiplayer play, with easy drop-in drop out co-op and the plot’s emphasis on this being about all three of the series’ most popular characters… and Waddle Dee.  I did not get a chance to try any multiplayer, but I imagine it’s the same as any platformer that has the option and makes the games both easier and harder at the same time… easier in that it would be far faster to wipe out mid- and end-bosses, but harder in areas that require speed and precision like auto scrolling areas.

I wish I could elaborate more on the games but… it’s Kirby.  It’s a classic Kirby game with classic levels and it’s generally easy with some harder bits here and there (that are generally optional like the auto scrolling areas).  I really enjoyed the Super Abilities and how it helped spice up the levels… and how the late levels featuring them required a bit of thought and puzzle solving compared to just mashing the 1 button regularly (I was playing on the Wii Remote).  I prefer Planet Robobot to Return to Dream Land but that’s almost an unfair comparison to make… having played both, it’s clear Return to Dream Land laid the foundation for Planet Robobot to use that formula and really change things up with the robo-suit.  I have to say I really enjoyed Return to Dream Land more than I thought I would though… I was worried it might be like too many other Kirby titles and their small, yet irritating issues (McGuffins are too hard to get, game is too long, game requires specific thought to be optional McGuffins to access the final level).  I know 100%ing the game would be less than an easy romp, especially with the Extra Mode ramping up the entire campaign’s difficulty, but that’s not usually something I do for games and it’s great there’s so much extra content for those that want more.

So if you’re looking for a Kirby fix, I’d recommend grabbing this if you have a Wii or Wii U.  The digital Wii U version is quite a bit cheaper than a physical copy, just a heads up on that.

As for other challenge games I’m working on a long one with Dragon Quest VII right now and getting in sessions of Cave Story+, but freelance work ramped up recently and it may be a while before I can beat either.  Until next time!

 

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Summer Gaming Challenge 2017 Dropped – Earthbound

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I have beaten my third game for the Summer Gaming Challenge, but I’d like to first talk about the first game I’m dropping for the Challenge, because I do feel it’s worthy to talk about, and what that means for my Challenge.  After all, it’s not always fun just to read positive impressions, right?  …Well, I guess my write ups aren’t always positive, but I feel this will be a worthwhile post.

Anyway, the first game I’ve dropped from my challenge is Earthbound.  I can already hear the tortured screams of the SNES game’s fans from here, so just hear me out first.  In the past I would suffer through games that were considered ‘classics’ even if I didn’t like them, just to give them a chance.  But nowadays, I simply don’t have that time commitment, and I want to use the free time that I have for other games, and other endeavors in general.  So I give these games a fair shake, and if I don’t like them I move on, regardless of how beloved it is.

I don’t know exactly how much time I sunk into Earthbound because I forgot to check the Activity Log before writing this, but I believe it was around 10 hours and I was about halfway through the stuff in Fourside when I called it quits.

Let me just get this out of the way and say… I really do like Earthbound’s unique and wacky setting.  Maybe unique isn’t quite the right word, since Earthbound’s world is much like our own except… weirder, but really the way Earthbound handles its setting is pretty wonderful and fun.  But, then again, I knew I would like it, considering how much I liked Mother 3 when I played through a large chunk of that.

Actually, that’s likely to be the crux of my issues with Earthbound… the fact that I played through Mother 3 before I touched this title.  I didn’t actually beat Mother 3, mind you (I’m still waiting patiently for the day Nintendo deems Western audiences worthy of the title), and it’s of course understandable that the third title of the series would have quality of life updates that the second game didn’t have, but Earthbound’s little oddities and tiny frustrations just built up to the point where I wasn’t really enjoying anything in between the short cutscenes the game gave me for taking care of whatever task it gave me.

The biggest problem, for me, is that is could be hard to figure out exactly what to do at many points in the game.  I decided to look up a guide early on, and while some tasks are telegraphed clearly enough, others I know I would have wandered around aimlessly for if I hadn’t have looked it up.  There’s other things  too, like learning how dangerous the enemies in the desert are and how it’s really not even worth fighting them, that saved me a lot of grief I otherwise would have gone through… since the battle escape rate is abysmal, if you don’t dodge the enemies on the screen, you’re more or less locked into a battle until it’s won (or lost).

Also, I suppose I didn’t really find the battles themselves fun.  It’s not that I don’t like turn based battles–I’m playing Dragon Quest VII now and am enjoying it–it’s just that it feels like I can’t do anything for fear of wasting resources or precious PP.  It’s tough figuring out when to use Jeff’s items in particular… considering his whole things is using unique items only he can use and take up precious inventory slots, it’s downright infuriating when said items don’t even work or their effects leave much to be desired.  It makes normal battles a complete slog, and boss battles can become a pain simply from the fact that most of my PP is wasted from healing (or from spells so I can kill enemies faster so I don’t have to heal), and I’m not the biggest fan of that sort of difficulty.  Again, this mainly stems from the fact that you can’t actually run from battles… sure, the option is there and all, but using it is just asking to take damage.  Combined with how hard it is to avoid many enemy types, it’s almost designed to wear you down to make boss battles more difficult than they need to be… because when I do get to said battles with sufficient PP, I can usually wipe them out in just a few turns.

These are the biggest points of contention for me… as a result, I felt like I just was going through the motions, not actually enjoying the game and just playing it because I felt obligated to for the challenge.  So, it’s time to drop it and try something else instead.

With that, I’ll detail the updates to my list.  First, I’ll be replacing Earthbound with Deadly Premonition for the PS3… Deadly Premonition is considered a cult classic, so I definitely want to give it a try and see how it is for myself.  Second, I’ve gotten a Switch and one of the games I own for it (Cave Story+) is definitely considered a classic… since I was having trouble filling out some of the games on my list in the first place with “true” classics, I’ve replaced one of the more iffy games on the list (Trails in the Sky) with it.  Also since it’s not a super long RPG (or an RPG at all) it helps make my list not so… long, to play through.

That wraps up the list updates!  Look out for my thoughts for the third Summer Gaming Challenge title that I’ve beaten soon.