Super NES Retro Review: Kirby's Dream Course

Super NES Retro Review: Kirby's Dream Course

Join us as we review every Super NES Classic game. Next up: How about a bit of putt-putt, Dreamland-style?

Join us as we review all the games on the SNES Classic Mini Edition in chronological order!

We've had a run of incredible SNES Classic game reviews, but I guess it's time to slow down a bit, adjust our glasses, and peer at the road ahead. The next game up for scrutiny, Kirby's Dream Course, certainly isn't bad, but it's mild and unassuming next to the rest of the spicy mid-'90s releases stowed on the SNES Classic Edition.

See, Kirby's Dream Course doesn't offer smooth, brisk action like Contra III, or epic story-telling like Final Fantasy III, and it doesn't add welcome tweaks and polish to a genre-changing game like Street Fighter II: Turbo. Kirby's Dream Course is simply a putt-putt golfing game adorned with Kirby's pink candy-floss charm.

Remember when I compared the SNES Classic's line-up to a dinner party guest list back in my review of Mega Man X? Well, Kirby's Dream Course is at that party, too. He's the tag-along kid who's standing off to the side with a wide smile, holding a picture he drew. He's adorable beyond words, and you give him a pat on the head and a kind word, but ultimately most of your time is taken up rushing from one esteemed guest to another.

That's not such a bad thing, though. At some point, you're going to need a small break from gobbling down one A-class game after another. When that happens, Kirby's Dream Course is ready to spend time with you. Together, you'll slow down the pace, knock a few balls into a few holes, and talk quietly. Maybe a friend will join you.

Every other putter but a putt-putt putter's gonna putt it in a puddle

Like regular putt-putt, your goal in Kirby's Dream Course is to sink your ball (Kirby lends his rotund body to the job) in as few strokes as possible. Now, even vanilla putt-putt is kind of goofy – when I was a kid, my parents favored a course that had a gorilla puppet in a cage – but the courses you work through in Kirby's Dream Course are wackier than average. For one thing, the terrain is uneven and riddled with traps, chasms, and enemies. For another, if you exceed five strokes (counted off by depleting Maxim Tomatoes) or hit too many enemies (ditto), you lose a life. Yes, Kirby, this is serious. Golf or die, little dude.

Sinking the Kirby-ball in as few strokes as possible – while also avoiding bad guys – requires becoming well-versed in Kirby's abilities. You can putt him along the ground, or chip him into the air and let him bounce off enemies and over inclines. Even Kirby's power-ups come in handy on the course. The Parasol power-up lets the cream puff float slowly down from ledges, the Fireball lets him careen around the course without losing speed, the Stone lets him drop suddenly from the air (perfect for attempting a bold hole-in-one) and so on.

Hey, Waddle Doo. Nice umbrella, nerd. Give it here.

There are several courses to work through across several worlds, and most of them are imaginatively-designed. Simply getting through the game should eat up several hours. Getting the lowest score possible will eat up several more, should you decide to stick to Kirby's Dream Course for the long haul.

Is mastering Kirby's Dream Course worth the effort required, though? Well, yeah. Kind of. Again, this isn't the most exciting game on the SNES Classic by far, but it's probably the most unique. It takes time to get used to the courses' isometric perspective, and making minute adjustments for shots feels like trying to swallow a Gordo. But there's also a certain amount of forgiveness in Kirby's Dream Course. Its physics are slower and heavier than you'd expect from a putt-putt game, but that sluggishness is exactly what you need to analyze your shots and perfect the next one.

Trees: Always a pain in the butt regardless of your preferred style of golf.

Of course, the trade-off is that Kirby's Dream Course is a slow game. Kirby takes his time rolling from point A to point B. Oftentimes, he lands on the lip of an incline only to slooooowly roll back away from the "green." It's funny and groan-inducing, but I don't foresee a lot of players sticking with Kirby's Dream Course after a round or two.

But the nice thing about Kirby's Dream Course is that it's a lot like its star; it doesn't needle you for attention or make demands. If you decide to hang out and you employ a little patience, you can expect a good time. In fact, Kirby's Dream Course may be exactly what you need to recharge yourself in between racing jet-cars down deadly highways and saving the world from the pale grip of a nihilist clown.

Kirby's Dream Course isn't the most exciting game on the SNES Classic Edition, but it's cute, fuzzy, and fun – much like the big pink macaron who runs the course. Think of Kirby's Dream Course as a good way to get a little quiet time in between the rest of the games on the SNES Classic's stellar menu.

3.5/5

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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