Who am I you ask? Well I guess my story starts some time around the early eighties. As my apartment had strangely gotten a lot smaller over the last months, I thought it would be a good idea to redecorate it. I was leaning back in my sofa, going through the new Ikea catalog when I was suddenly hit by a massive earthquake. As much as I tried to hold my ground, I was propelled head first into that strange tunnel at my front door. I had been wondering where that leads but never had the courage to check it out.
After a long and bumpy ride, I finally stuck my head out the other end and saw daylight. Before I had a chance to adjust to my new environment, a big man wearing some kind of a lab coat and face mask grabbed hold of me. He was a despicable man really. Not only did he cut my food supply line, he also held me upside down in the air and slapped me right on the butt! What did I ever do to him?! Just when I was about to stick it to him, my attention was averted to this tired looking lady lying on a bed nearby.
It was very strange. Do you know that feeling when you meet somebody for the first time, yet you feel like you have known each other all along? I had this feeling when I saw her. That's when it occurred to me. This woman must be my landlady and I had been neglecting my rent for a few months after all. I could understand that she was upset but still... She had no right to turn me over to that sadistic bull in his white coat! I thought that me and her were going to have a long and personal conversation but right now, I just wanted to take a shower. That tunnel I had just been through wasn't all that clean after all.
Fortunately this other lady dressed in white was a lot nicer than her butt-slapping friend. She most kindly helped me clean myself and then handed me some warm, although not very fashionable garments. She carried me over to my landlady and I prepared to negotiate the rent but instead, my landlady threw me a warm smile and pressed me against her breast so lovingly that I melted like snow to the sun. She and her equally loving husband took me to their home where they had a room prepared with a bed in exactly my size and all kinds of lovely little things to play with. It's like they had been planning to take me in all along.
I didn't quite understand the strange language both of them spoke but yet I figured out that her name was Mom and crying meant "Food please", "Hug me" and "Clean me" all at the same time. The temperature wasn't as constant as my previous home but still, this was some service! Anyway, I would wander around this place for the time being while gradually learning to speak their language. It would take seven years before I really found out what my purpose here was.
One fine morning, Mom brought me to a supermarket and I saw a little mustached guy jumping around on a TV. That was my first encounter with the Nintendo Entertainment System! This thing blew my mind in so many ways! I had heard of princesses being kidnapped by dragons before but where's the prince to save her? No, there is no prince! This time it's a fat Italian plumber with a mustache who gets to be the hero! Yeah, that's what I'm talking about! Power to the common man! Not only that but rather than simply hear his tale, I could actually help him in his quest. Though Mom seemed quite unimpressed, I knew I had witnessed a miracle and it would leave a mark on my life for years to come.
I'd often get into fights with Mom after that. She wanted me to go outside and play with my friends but what did she know? After all, all of my friends were living in similar warm nests, receiving the same service from two other persons who were somehow all named Mom and Dad. No, my purpose in life was bigger than that. As much fun as playing with my friends was, If I did that then who would save princess Peach, liberate the kingdom of Hyrule and smite the evil king Dedede? I just couldn't ignore the sorrow of the weak!
It wasn't until another seven years or so that I would see what a fool I had been. Up until now, I had been carrying the weight of the world on my own shoulders while completely ignoring the help others could have offered. I was determined to never close my eyes to the value of friendship again! Especially in these dark times. I was barely finished helping Dr. Freeman escape the resonance cascade alive when bands of terrorists attacked and dragged his scientist colleagues off to cs_assault. This was too much for just me to handle. This time I needed help!
Anyone who doesn't believe in the kindness of strangers is a moron. I mean sure, strangers aren't always nice. I've been told that I SuX0rz and have been called a n00b a million times but even then, it's worth it. As it so happens, it were these very strangers that padded me on the back and reassuringly shouted "Lock and Load!" before we stormed the big garage and got every single scientist out while making a fair buck in the process. Unfortunately our happiness was short lived as a new batch of terrorists arrived and we were right back where we started. Rather than sigh over the shortness of our victory, we bought ourselves a new pack of heavy guns and rushed in once more. No matter how many times the terrorists came back, we'd bring them to justice!
Time went on and the terrorists got more and more violent. Now they didn't only take hostages any more but also planted bombs and tried to assassinate seemingly random VIPs. Our combined efforts were no longer enough. We needed more coordination. We needed a plan! We had to Look at the map and devise a clever strategy. As much as I tried this, people were joining and leaving our counter-terrorist squad with every tick of the clock. Some of them even switched sides to join the terrorists. I engaged in conversation with several of the better fighters. We decided to join together regularly and learn how to fight as one. You could even go as far as to call us a counter-strike clan! For years we battled the forces of evil and shed much blood until I finally left the front as I heard of another land in need.
So many years ago I had liberated the town of Tristram from Diablo, the lord of terror. The hero I helped out at the time had drilled the dark lord's soul stone right into his own forehead. What an idiot! Needless to say, Diablo soon overpowered this weak excuse for a savior and continued to live on, inhabiting the former hero's body. "Man", I thought. "I've gone through all of this before, I'm not doing it again or at least... Not alone!" Fortunately my plea for help didn't leave me waiting as several friends showed up and we entered a new clan to smite that demon once and for all! After taking care of business in the chaos sanctuary, laying waste to Baal, the lord of destruction and even single handedly obliterating several acres of murderous cows, it was time to put my swords and bows to rest once more.
Since that time, my clan based activity has settled down and I remain to fight on the side of good with smaller bands of friends while every now and then fondly remembering those good old days. Most of all, I tend to leave the real action up to others as I watch from the sidelines. Especially a Korean man named Jaedong shows particular excellence in leading the Zerg to victory against the evil Protoss at general Bisu's command and admiral Flash' corrupted Terran whom I wish all to be infested for greater good.
I thank you for taking the time to read about my life. Perhaps our paths may once cross in the endless online battlefields and until then, luck be with you.
A good day to you all and welcome to another issue of River City Retro. As I announced in my previous blog, this time we're talking about Kirby's Dream Land 2 for the Nintendo Game Boy. The first one in the series is one of my all time favourite Game Boy games and its music is a true icon for the system. There might be a two in the title, but in fact this isn't a true sequel to Kirby's Dream Land.
That title goes to Kirby's Adventure for the NES. That's the one that introduced the ability absorbing and exponentially increased the game's size. Kirby's Dream Land 2 is more like the sequel to Adventure. The abilities are back but the way to use them has changed quite a bit. At first glance there are quite a bit less of them to be had. Once we take a closer look though, we find out that the abilities that are in the game have actually become much more dynamic.
Dream Land 2 introduces three animal buddies for Kirby to ride. Traveling by land is Rick the hamster. We fly through the air with Coo the owl and finally conquer the seven seas riding in the mouth of Kine, the sunfish. Each of these animals have a dramatic impact on Kirby's abilities. Using cutter while riding Coo will give you access to Contra's spread gun. Kine will allow you to inhale under water or light hallways with the spark ability and so on.
Each of these ridable characters also come with their own themes. I'm personally kind of undecided on these. I mean, they are great themes for sure. They really radiate traveling by land, by sea and through the air respectively but you're going to be riding these animals a lot. Some times I just want to hear the level themes instead. After all, Kirby's Dream Land 2 has some exquisite music. Fortunately for me, my favourite theme by far is Coo the owl I'd love to hear a power metal version of this. That bassy rhythm would sound great on an electric guitar with a high vocal lead soaring over it. Anyway, let's take a look at my favourite levels.
Whispy Woods. He's a tree and... he freaking hates Kirby! I never really understood this. Why does Whispy hate Kirby so much? Has Kirby taken a dump in his forest or something? That can't be it... He should be happy to get the extra fertilization. Can't be that Kirby's always eating his apples either... He freaking launches those at the pink blob so they're obviously not so precious. When you think about it, Whispy doesn't even look all that mean. If anything, he has a surprised look on his face whenever Kirby shows up.
What's the feud between these two all about? I guess we'll never know but Kirby's not a tree hugger. He's a tree puncher and Whispy has his rightful place as one of the most recognizable characters in the series. For me King Dedede doesn't always need to be the final boss but Whispy should always be the first boss! I know he isn't always but he damn well should be!
Kracko is another one of Kirby's most iconic bosses. He's an even more interesting character than Whispy. I mean, what the hell is he? He's a flying eye that turns into a cloud when things get serious. I really wonder where the designers' inspiration came from when they dreamed him up. Could he be based on some kind of Japanese folklore that I'm not familiar with? If I ever get the chance to meet the creators of Kirby, Kracko is what I'll ask them about.
Cloudy Park level 2
As I said, King Dedede doesn't always need to be the final boss and this time he isn't. Not if you can collect all of the Rainbow Drops at least. This time Dedede has been possessed by Dark Matter; an evil being that wants to turn Dream Land's rainbow islands into a dark world. In order to exorcise and face him, Kirby has to collect one rainbow drop in each world. They're always carefully hidden and can only be accessed when Kirby has a certain ability. This level implements an exceptionally well done puzzle where you require a very specific combination of abilities and animal friends to get the drop. Definitely my favourite level in the game.
If you finally do get all the drops and face Dark Matter, you're in for quite a ride. I breezed through most of the game but Dark Matter was another story. The guy's got two forms and even the first one alone will take several of your lives away. When you lose to his second form, you're taken right back to the start. That's right. You're not beating the game unless you beat both forms on one life. This might not be a NES game but Dark Matter definitely is NES hard.
All in all I think Kirby's Dream Land 2 is a great sequel to Kirby's Adventure. Everyone who likes Kirby even just a little bit, should definitely check it out. The best Kirby game ever made however, wasn't released until a while later.