Kirby returned to the Super NES in 1997's Kirby's Dream Land 3, a Nintendo/HAL Laboratories co-production. The game is a sequel to the Game Boy hit Kirby's Dream Land 2 and not to the last Super NES outing Kirby Super Star. The powerups and abilities available resemble those from KDL2 and not KSS, and the animal friends from KDL2 return along with three new pals. The biggest change from previous games is the style of animation used in this title. Backgrounds, levels, and characters are drawn in a pastel/scribble type of sketch in a less refined style as would later be seen in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. This soft look detracted many players, and as such the game was never as big a hit as it could have been.

As mentioned above, Kirby and his animal friends Rick the Hamster, Coo the Owl, and Kine the Fish are back in an all new adventure. An evil force led by King Dedede has invaded Popstar and it's up to Kirby and friends to sent the villain packing. Evil tentacles made of negative energy have enveloped each of the six realms on the planet, and Kirby must progress through each one to bring happiness and joy back to the sad inhabitants of the land. It is possible to complete each level and finish the game without bringing happiness back, but the game will not truly be complete without doing so. Restoring joy involves completing a somewhat secret objective in each level. A tone will sound when Kirby nears someone or something that needs help. Sometimes the job to be done is as simple as not stepping on the flowers and sometimes Kirby must do something more direct, such as defeating Metroids that have invaded one level. At the end of each level is a sad Popstar resident. If the Popstarian cheers up and smiles, then Kirby has met the objective. If not, he has failed. Usually the secret objective is hidden away in a special room, making finding each secret a chore unto itself.

Joining the party are new animal friends Pitch the Bird, Chu Chu the Octopus, and Nago the Cat. Just as in KDL2 animal pals combine with special powers to give Kirby unique abilities. Let's have a look at the list of powers...

There are also several mini games for Kirby to play, such as "Find The Eel", "Which Gordo Was Thrown", and others. Winning a game nets Kirby a prize, such as 1-ups and Maxim Tomoatos. Something else that extends replayability for this game is that second player can join the fun as Kirby's blobby friend Gooey. Gooey has all the same moves as Kirby and can be controlled by either another player or the CPU. Gooey can join the fun when the A Button is pressed on Controller 2. There's a lot going on in KDL3 and luckily there's a save game system to record your progress. The game is saved automatically after each level is completed. The game also records the percentage completed, and obviously 100% is a perfect score.

Kirby's Dream Land 3 is one of the underrated games from the Super NES era and would be Kirby's last traditional 2D side-scrolling platformer until the 2002 Game Boy Advance release Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land. Give KDL3 a try and you won't regret it. The game is usually available in the usual used game places (eBay, used game shops, etc.) as well as being available on the Internet in ROM format. Typically it's the Japanese version that you'll find online (seeing as how that version lacked a level of copy protection that the American version sported), but don't let some non-English text stop you from enjoying some Kirbyriffic fun.

Playing the game

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