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Video Game / Kirby's Dream Land 3

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Kirby's back again, now with more friends than ever before.

Released in 1997, Kirby's Dream Land 3 is the SNES sequel to Kirby's Dream Land 2, and the second game in Shinichi Shimomura's "trilogy" arc of the Kirby series. Much like the previous game, there is a small number of Copy Abilities; the same seven abilities from Dream Land 2 plus the new Cleaning ability. These abilities are more oriented towards puzzle solving than combat.

While Kirby of Dream Land is out on a fishing trip with his pal Gooey, they notice a black, cloud-like object ominously descending in the PopStar sky, scattering smaller, tentacle-like clouds throughout the land. Coo the owl rushes to inform Kirby that the planet is in big trouble, so he and his allies go to save the day once again.

A number of expansions have been made over its predecessor. First, borrowing from the helper system in Kirby Super Star, Gooey can be summoned either as a CPU-controlled helper or a P2-controlled character. Gooey can also copy abilities just like Kirby by capturing enemies with his tongue.

Returning from the previous game are the animal friends: Rick, who has gained the ability to Wall Jump and Goomba Stomp but has lost his Vacuum Mouth; Kine, who no longer hops slowly out of water; and Coo, who's undergone some slight movement tweaks and had some of his Copy Ability variants nerfed. Joining them are three new animal friends: Nago, a giant cat who can triple jump and Goomba Stomp just like Rick can; ChuChu, an octopus who can cling to ceilings; and Pitch, a bird who flies much like Kirby does. Like in Dream Land 2, using a Copy Ability while riding an animal friend creates a new attack. The biggest expansion over the original is that unlike there being an optional puzzle per level (world), there is an optional puzzle per stage. Replacing the Rainbow Drops as the optional collectable of the game opening the path to the True Final Boss are the Heart Stars. Each stage has a specific objective to complete for a heartbroken character in order to obtain their Heart Star.

Though Kirby's Adventure set the standard for the series' gameplay and Kirby Super Star codified it, Dream Land 3 did much to establish its storytelling hallmarks, placing them at center stage. The plot is much more elaborate than before, yet simultaneously ramps up the emphasis on Show, Don't Tell, conveying itself with zero dialogue. Furthermore, the game saw greater focus on Surprisingly Creepy Moments — offsetting its innocuous atmosphere with sudden forays into Surreal Horror that grow especially prominent in the final act — and introduced the first configuration of the Theater mode (albeit as a 100% Completion reward). All of these aspects would become mainstays for the series even after it moved away from this game's more relaxed pace.

This game was one of the last Nintendo-owned games to be released on the SNES, and the last first-party title released for the system in North America (a full year after the release of the Nintendo 64); as such, it stands as one of the best-looking games released for the system. It uses a unique pastel-drawn look not unlike the crayon aesthetic of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, but is enhanced by a special rendering filter that blends pixels together, a precursor to the High Definition filters used in emulation and modern releases of classic games today. Uniquely, it is also one of the few Kirby games to see an American release first; the Japanese version, Hoshi no Kirby 3, was released four months later.

This game was followed up by Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, the final game in the Dark Matter Trilogy.

This game provides examples of:

  • 100% Completion: First, Dark Matter and Zero must be beaten, then you have to beat Boss Butch, then complete "Super NES MGS 5" which is all five Heart Star mini-games in order and finally you must beat an expanded version of the Jumping Goal Game in at least ten tries. Doing all this unlocks the Theatre mode.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The Love-Love Stick, which is made of all the Heart Stars and, like the Rainbow Sword, is used against the True Final Boss.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: Whispy sprouts a demonic face and starts walking forward on his roots once his health has been depleted to half.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: This is before the trope went full-swing in this series, and the American box art could hardly be considered hardcore, but the Japanese box art better represents the game's art style in comparison.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Whenever the player enters an area that is relevant to the objective, a special chime will play that warns the player in advance. Likewise, there's a different jingle that plays when the player successfully completes the goal.
  • Art Course: The final portion of the last level of Cloudy Park features a corridor with many wall drawings that gain life and become enemies.
  • Art Initiates Life: Ado, the boss of Cloudy Park, who attacks by drawing weaker versions of bosses from Dream Land 2, which are Sweet Stuff, Ice Dragon, Mr. Shine & Mr. Bright, and Kracko during her battle. In the stage right before her battle, some drawings of enemies come to life, foreshadowing Ado's ability.
  • Art Shift:
    • Within the context of the series, the game shifts from its usual cartoon-esque sprites to a crayon and pastel-drawn look unique to this game, making use of special rendering filters to blend pixels together.
    • In-game, several of the cameo characters use 8-bit sprites directly from their original games, contrasting with the game's pastel look: Donbe and Hikari from Shin Onigashima, Goku and Chao from Yūyūki, and R.O.B.'s companion, Professor Hector.
  • Artsy Beret: Ado is a young artist with a red beret, but doesn't have any of the stereotypes associated with it. Attacking Kirby while possessed aside, she's actually quite friendly.
  • Artwork and Game Graphics Segregation: Ado is an unusual case. In her official artwork, she's depicted with a stout body, mittenlike hands, and Black Bead Eyes, which matches her sprite. However, the close-ups of her depicted in the game's credits show her with more realistically designed hands and eyes with visible sclerae. Kirby: Art & Style Collection features a page discussing Ado's design, revealing that her more detailed appearance in the game's credits is indeed her intended appearance and that her sprite's appearance, which the official art used as reference material, is a simplified rendition made due to graphical limitations.
  • Ascended Extra: Gooey was just a filler character that appeared if you already had an animal friend that would have been rescued otherwise in Dream Land 2. Here, he's the second playable character, who can use nearly all of Kirby's abilities. Notably, Star Allies considers Gooey to represent Dream Land 3 rather than his actual debut game of Dream Land 2 (otherwise represented by the trio of Rick, Kine, and Coo).
  • Big Bad: Dark Matter from Dream Land 2, or more accurately, Zero.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The previous Kirby games have no blood. This game's final boss Zero cuts itself to shoot its blood at you, then flies into the background to shoot Tears of Blood at you. THEN, when you damage it enough, an inner part of its eye bloodily sheds its sclera and the blood-soaked internal remainder pops out and comes after you. Then its final form explodes into blood when beaten. Truly insane for such an otherwise cutesy game.
  • Body Horror: After defeating the possessed Dedede once, Dedede's body starts floating around, making his torso rip open to reveal a set of teeth trying to chomp Kirby, and also to reveal an eye shooting Energy Balls at him.
  • Boss Bonanza: The final normal level has six miniboss fights.
  • Boss Rush:
  • Broken Angel: The very last Heart Star mission requires you to gather the feathers that have been stolen from an angel.
  • Broomstick Quarterstaff: Downplayed by the Cleaning ability introduced in this game. While some of its Animal Friend combos utilize cleaning supplies as melee weapons, the regular Cleaning attack focuses on sweeping damaging dust at enemies.
  • CamelCase: The game's manual has a quirk of spelling terms in this manner, like PopStar, WhispyWoods, and ChuChu. Some were kept in future games, most weren't.
  • Ceiling Cling: ChuChu has this ability.
  • Company Cross References: Several of the Heart Star missions involve characters from other Nintendo games. For example, you have to assemble R.O.B. in one level and defeat several Metroids in another level.
  • Crossover: Quite a bit of the Heart Star missions involve crossovers from other game series by Nintendo.
    • Grass Land 4 requires you to fetch a monkey called Goku (no, not that Goku) for a girl named Chao, both of whom are characters from an obscure Family Computer game called Famicom Mukashibanashi: Yūyūki. Chao previously appeared in the Japanese version of Kirby's Dream Land 2 (she was replaced by a female Gooey in the international release).
    • Sand Canyon 4 requires you to fetch the boy Donbe for his sister Hikari, both of whom are characters from Yūyūki's predecessor, Famicom Mukashibanashi: Shin Oni Ga Shima.
    • Sand Canyon 6 requires you to assemble R.O.B. for Professor Hector.
    • Most recognizable of them all, Iceberg 2 requires you to destroy several Metroids for Samus Aran. True to form, a mission accomplished causes Samus to remove her helmet.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Gooey is a blob made from the same stuff as Dark Matter, but he's Kirby's friend and ally with no strings attached; and can even be played as with a second controller.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Applicable to Gooey, who you can call by pressing A.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: If you visit a defeated boss after collecting all Heart Stars in their level, they won't fight anymore. Justified in that they only fought you because they were tainted by Dark Matter, and collecting all the Heart Stars in their level exorcises it from them.
  • Demonic Possession: Every boss gets subjected to this at the beginning of the game, making them hostile towards Kirby. The possession also causes them to exhibit weird behaviors unseen before, such as Whispy Woods going from Stationary Boss to Advancing Boss of Doom and King Dedede getting a Belly Mouth while floating around like a dangling puppet.
  • Demoted to Dragon: In the Hyper Zone, Dark Matter is fought similar to its second phase in Dream Land 2, although it is second to the sudden appearance of Zero.
  • Digitized Sprites: Like with Yoshi's Island, this game's graphics were hand-drawn with pastels before being digitally scanned to be converted into pixel art, contributing to its unique sketchy look.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: King Dedede is this once again just like in Dream Land 2. And just like before, fail to collect all of the Heart Stars and the Bad Ending plays.
  • Doppelgänger: The mysterious Batamon enemy, which patrols in mostly unreachable areas, although Pitch's Spark attack can easily dispatch them and there's a secret exit in Cloudy Park 3 with loads of them where you actually can touch one of them. This enemy has a highly uncanny resemblance to Kirby, just with a wider face.
  • Double Jump: Nago can actually triple jump.
  • Dual Boss: Pon & Con, which appear to be a tanuki and kitsune respectively (called raccoon and fox in the manual), are the bosses of Sand Canyon.
  • Easter Egg: Skipping over the exit in Cloudy Park 3 gets you to an alternate exit which has loads of the Kirby Doppelgänger known as Batamon, and you can actually kill one of them without having to use Pitch's Spark ability.
  • The End... Or Is It?: In the game's bad ending, Kirby and Gooey walk home while an Enemy Roll Call goes by, drawn on the area's floor. At the end of this, the camera pans up to an ominous silhouette in the sky labeled as "?", implying that you've missed something important.
  • Enemy Roll Call: The normal credits do this through Ado's drawings.
  • Escort Mission: The penultimate stage of each level always has a Heart Star mission that requires you to bring a certain animal friend to the end. In order, you must reunite Kine with his wife, reunite Pitch with his mother, reunite ChuChu with her best friend, and reunite Rick and Nago with their respective girlfriends.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Nago, except when the player picks another friend in front of him.
  • Eye Scream: As a last-ditch effort, Zero tears out its own eye and has it chase Kirby in the final phase of its fight.
  • Fetch Quest: There's always at least one level in each world that has this as the Heart Star mission. Several of them require Trial-and-Error Gameplay by replaying the level until you get it right since they require you to take the correct path.
  • Final Boss: Possessed King Dedede, the boss of Iceberg. The game ends there if you don't have all the Heart Stars. If you do have all of them, it instead leads into a scene where the Heart Stars exorcise Dark Matter from Dedede's body, the Love-Love Stick is formed from those, and you go on to fight Dark Matter and Zero.
  • Game-Over Man: A group shot of a sleeping Kirby and his friends. If you're defeated on Boss Butch mode, you instead see a picture of the boss you lost to inflicting some slapstick-y harm on Kirby.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The True Final Boss is Zero, a giant eye with a red iris who shoots blood at you as an attack, and later rips the iris out of its body in a gory manner to keep fighting. Once you defeat the boss, it explodes in a shower of blood. For a while, the game was rated K-A/E, and it took 15 years for the ESRB to catch on with Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition, which is rated E10+ with a content warning for "animated blood". However, re-releases of Dream Land 3 are still E-rated, despite the game contents being unchanged since the 1997 release.
  • Goomba Stomp: Rick, Kine and Nago have this ability. You can even bounce off enemies with it. One Heart Star puzzle requires you to master this ability while riding Rick.
  • Green Hill Zone: Grass Land, the first level (obviously), is a vibrant grassy meadow with flowers and trees all around that serves as the introductory level. The level culminates in a boss battle against Whispy Woods.
  • Guide Dang It!: Most of the Heart Star missions have very vague hints or none at all on what you need to do to complete them.
    • One of them requires you to know what you do in another video game series. To complete the Heart Star mission for Iceberg 2, you need to destroy several Metroids by freezing them with ice and kicking them into lava.
    • You would never guess that you had to use ChuChu's inhale (or rather, slap) on MuchiMuchi, the green Bouncy in Grass Land's second level.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: Invincible Candy, as usual.
  • Level in the Clouds: Cloudy Park, the fourth level, makes its second appearance in the series. Features include hills made of clouds, a maze inside the top of a mountain, a rainy stage that includes a partially flooded side, the interior of a cumulus with wind currents, tall stone pillars, and a boss battle against Ado.
  • Light Is Not Good: Zero is the primarily white core of the Hyper Zone, and revives Dark Matter in a last-ditch effort of sparing the trouble of personally eliminating Kirby. Fitting, considering that white is traditionally worn at funerals in Japan.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: There are two songs that can play at the end of each stage depending on whether or not its mission was completed. The "success" theme is the happier of the two and about as long as you'd expect a song that plays on a one-screen wide area to be (not very). The "failure" theme, on the other hand, plays for over half a minute without looping on a screen you have absolutely no incentive to stick around on.
  • Lost in Translation: A small bit of context is lost with the Kirby lookalikes, Batamon, due to their name being translated literally from Japanese. It's derived from the Japanese term battamon, which is used to describe Shoddy Knockoff Products (or genuine goods sold for suspiciously low prices), implying that they're essentially bargain-bin Kirbys.
  • Made of Good: The Love-Love Stick is made of the Heart Stars, the combined feelings of happiness and gratitude throughout Pop Star.
  • Making a Splash: Pitch's Cleaning ability turns him into a bucket of water with which Kirby uses to splash on enemies. You must use this to clear a Heart Star mission in Ripple Field by watering some blue flower seedlings.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Dark Matter is framed to look like the primary antagonist of the game, when it's in fact Zero whom the player fights as the final boss after the Dark Matter fight.
  • Mini-Game: One Heart Star mission per world is a speed memorization minigame that has to do with Gordos. They range from spotting the color of a Gordo, memorizing how many there are of a color, and memorizing what sound a Gordo makes. If you fail it, you have to do the whole level again just to play it again, let alone get the heart star of that level.
  • Mood Whiplash: The whole game is filled with cute until the final boss battles featuring Body Horror Dedede, the return of Dark Matter and the bloody eyeball abomination that is Zero.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Dedede's belly-mouth during the second phase of his fight. Pacto, a standard enemy, also has quite the handful of sharp red teeth in its mouth.
  • Moving Right Through: The intro scene to the Grass Land shows Kirby and Rick heading towards each other, with Kirby completely ignoring Rick in favor of Chuchu, the newer partner behind him, leaving Rick upset as the pair spin away on top of a parasol. This is a callback to Grass Land's intro scene in Kirby's Dream Land 2.
  • My Name Is ???: In the Enemy Roll Call of the bad ending, True Final Boss Zero is shown only in silhouette, with their name being listed as "?".
  • Nerf: Coo's Cutter attack was reduced from a Spread Shot of Feather Flechettes to a single razor feather. It's still quite useful though, since it's a large projectile that goes across the entire screen.
  • Nintendo Hard: Unlike Kirby's Dream Land 2, continuing in this title is impossible; losing all lives at any point will cause your game to be over for real!
  • One-Hit Kill: Getting crushed between two surfaces (and falling into bottomless pits) instantly kills Kirby.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Ado, if one factors out the various bosses from previous Kirby games she paints to life. Once you defeat the paintings, Ado herself tries to charge at the player, but she only takes one hit to defeat. She even holds the dubious distinction of being the only boss vulnerable to Kirby's slide kick and air puff attacks.
  • Palmtree Panic: Ripple Field, the second level, is a seaside resort filled with water sections in and about.
  • Power Copying: Burning, Ice, Cutter, Needle, Parasol, Stone, and Spark all return from Dream Land 2. The Cleaning ability makes its debut in this game, though it would take over 20 years for it to reappear again in Kirby Star Allies (although it also appeared in the anime before then).
  • Power Up Mount: The animal friends, as with Dream Land 2, give Kirby some extra abilities and change the way the Copy Abilities work while Kirby is united with them.
  • Pre-Final Boss: Collecting all the Heart Stars and defeating the possessed King Dedede unlocks the Boss-Only Level Hyper Zone, where Kirby faces off with Dark Matter. After defeating it, he immediately fights the True Final Boss, Zero.
  • Punny Name: In addition to being "orca" spelled backwards, Acro's name also ties in with the various acrobatics it performs during its fight.
  • Replay Mode: Achieving 100% Completion unlocks a menu that allows the player to re-watch any of the game's cutscenes, including an option to see them all in sequence. This menu would serve as a prototype for the "Theater" mode that would become more common in the series from the 2000s onwards.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Acro's name is simply "orca" written backwards, tying in with the fact that it's designed after an orca whale.
  • Sequential Boss: Ado, who paints several bosses from Kirby's Dream Land 2 for Kirby to rematchnote  before "challenging" him herself.
  • Serial Escalation: This time, a massive cloud threatens the entire planet. It turns out to be related to Dark Matter, the villain in the previous game who threatened the Rainbow Island archipelago of Dream Land.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Sand Canyon, the third level, is a dry canyon-like area with rocky cliffs and the like.
  • Ship Tease: Kirby's interactions with ChuChu have some very romantic connotations; the manga adaptation outright depicts ChuChu with a crush on Kirby that is, in some strips, mutual.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Iceberg, the fifth level, is a cold, harsh arctic wasteland that gradually snows. King Dedede's fortress is The Very Definitely Final Dungeon; set as the last stage that involves battling the bosses within the castle and with a final boss fight against Dedede himself on top of the fortress.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The level names Grass Land, Ripple Field, and Hyper Zone are references to the same level names in HyperZone, which was another game also developed by HAL Laboratory.
    • ChuChu with the Cleaning ability gets a large Flying Broomstick to ride on. Due to her big, red hair ribbon, she looks quite reminiscient of Kiki from Kiki's Delivery Service. And then there are the enemies called "KeKe" that also fly on broomsticks.
  • Spell My Name with an S: The manual lists Whispy Woods as WhispyWoods, Acro as Akro the Whale, Pon & Con as Raccoon & Fox, and Waddle Dee as Waddledee. It also couldn't seem to decide if the new ability is called Broom or Clean, as the game itself only shows icons rather than names for abilities. Nintendo Power used "Broom" throughout its walkthrough, while the anime called it "Clean" which later became "Cleaning" in Kirby Star Allies.
  • Surprisingly Creepy Moment: And how! First off is King Dedede's possession and resulting Body Horror — most notoriously, the razor sharp-toothed Belly Mouth formed from his body splitting open — then there's the True Final Boss Zero, who opens up red gashes around its eye to fire blood at Kirby, then tears its own eye out as a last-ditch attack at the start of its second phase.
  • Sweat Drop: Amusingly, PopStar itself has one in the intro once the black cloud arrives.
  • Tears of Blood: Zero launches these at you from the background as one of its attacks.
  • Tennis Boss: The underwater phase of Acro's boss fight is fought by deflecting his projectiles (Skulls, Rocks and smaller orcas) back at him.
  • True Final Boss: Dark Matter, just like in the previous game except it's immediately followed up by Zero.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Dark Matter, and Zero more so, to the point that it shoots its blood at you. Definitely the crowning example of this trope in the Kirby series as a whole, along with 02 in The Crystal Shards.
  • Walking Spoiler: While the game makes Dark Matter's return no secret, it keeps the revelation of their leader Zero a secret until the very end of the game.
  • Wall Jump: Rick now has the ability to scale walls by repeatedly jumping on them like Mega Man X.
  • When Trees Attack: Whispy serves as the first boss, as always. After you deplete his health by half, he uproots himself and starts walking forward.