Gameplay, Story and Value:
Mechanically, there’s little difference between Kirby’s Dreamland 3 and its predecessors. You’re still running and jumping and floating your way through stages, vacuuming up enemies for their abilities, and working your way to the end of the stage. Like Dreamland 2 before it, Dreamland 3 has various animal companions that will change how Kirby’s abilities handle, as well as adding new control opportunities.
New to the series is the ability for Kirby to split off into a second character who can be controlled by a second player, allowing for co-op play. Personally I’m not a huge fan of this in Kirby, as it just feels a little clunky, but it’s completely optional and I like having options!
Controls are the same as they’ve ever been, though handling feels a bit different. Controlling Kirby feels a bit stiffer than before, and he feels heavier. That is to say, floating takes a bit more effort and jumping feels more weighty. I also found myself having trouble dashing, with the double-tap on the D-pad being somewhat inconsistent. This made some platforming sections more frustrating than I think they should have been.
Level design has been tightened up and it’s no longer possible to simply float your way through most of the game. You’ll now encounter many more enclosed levels like caves, castles and mazes, as well vertical levels or water areas. Even open stages implement many more aerial enemies as well as ground enemies that jump or fire upwards. You’ll still need to float, it’s still a staple maneuver, but you’ll no longer be able to rely on it completely. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it forces you to play through stages differently than you would in, say, Kirby’s Adventure.
Animal companions from Dreamland 2 make a triumphant return with the addition of Nago the Cat. Sure there’s a couple other new friends you could take along with you, but none of them matter when you have the option of letting a giant, fat cat roll you around like a pink ball of Kirby yarn.
Presentation, Music and Sound:
Gone is the sharp, vibrant art style of Kirby’s Adventure and Kirby’s Dreamland 2, replaced instead with something that ultimately looks faded and blurry. Colors all seem faded and washed out, and honestly it can all be a bit strenuous on the eyes after a while. It doesn’t look bad, but I think it looks significantly worse than other Kirby games.
Sprites are all expressive (that cat!) and generally fun to watch, and environments look good. Environments, and I feel like this has a little to do with the art style, are somewhat lacking in variety, especially compared to older Kirby games. World 3 and 4, for example, look nearly identical.
Sound effects are all standard issue Kirby, which is to say they’re just fine. Music is good, though once I again I didn’t think it was as good as former Kirby games.
I’d heard some less than stellar things about this game leading up to my actually playing it. Realistically, I don’t think it holds up to other entrees in the series, especially another Kirby game I’ll be playing later on for this console. That said, it’s not a bad game by any stretch and I’m happy to give it shelf space.