Take a so-so minature golf video game called Special Tee Shot for the Super NES that was developed and released on the BSX system in Japan, replace the generic characters with Kirby and friends, and release it in the USA, and you get a little piece of fun called Kirby's Dream Course (aka Kirby Bowl).

Released in 1995, the game plays as follows: Kirby is the golf ball. The object is to line up your shot in a 3/4 isometric view, then set the power level, resulting in Kirby rolling up into a ball and being knocked in the direction you specified. Sounds easy, right? That's the sneaky part. Playing the game is easy. Mastering it is the challenge.

You see, Kirby's not playing on a regulation mini-golf course. There are eight courses each with eight holes. Each course floats high above the ground, meaning that going out of bounds results in crashing to earth. Each course also contains a fair share of obstacles, such as bumpers, trees, water, sand, enemies, and spikes. Colliding with one of these obstacles can result in anything from being knocked off course to stopping dead in your tracks. Crashing into an enemy destroys it, and the hole appears wherever the last enemy is positioned. As such, it's a good idea to take out the baddies in such an order that the hole appears in a conveinient location.

Speaking of enemies, what kind of Kirby game would this be if the pink puffball couldn't absorb their powers? Destroying some enemies allows Kirby to copy their ability while the ball is in play. The abilities include:

Kirby trades one ability for another when he takes out the appropriate enemy. Destroying the enemies in order to take on the appropriate power at the right time is key to the game.

As in golf the idea is to finish each hole with the least amount of strokes. Each stroke costs an energy unit, in this case a tomato. Kirby has four tomatoes and destroying an enemy refills the tomato meter by one unit. Running out of tomatoes costs a life. Running out of lives ends the game.

If Kirby completes a course under par he receives a medal. There are three medals (Gold, Silver, and Bronze) and earning gold medals in all eight courses results in new courses becoming available.

The game also includes a two-player mode where the pink Kirby faces off against the yellow Kirby. There are four courses in this mode, each with eight holes. The idea is to gather more stars than your opponent. Stars appear in place of destroyed enemies and over the hole. The tomato meter is also present, but running out of tomatoes results in Kirby falling asleep and losing a turn. Also in this mode colliding with the other Kirby results in the two puffballs trading abilities. Players can also steal stars from one another by running over them.

With its colorful graphics, intriguing gameplay, and challenge factor, Kirby's Dream Course is a gem in the SNES library. It's a shame that the game didn't receive more attention in its prime, but now that it's aged it shows its true colors as a timeless classic.

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