The Forgotten: Kirby's Dream Course

Let’s take a moment to not think about Dragon Age, and talk about a game no one’s ever heard of.

Despite it’s major market branding, you’d be hard pressed to find too many people who’ve played Kirby’s Dream Course. I’d imagine most people wrote it off as Kirby’s awful golf game, and threw it squarely into traffic, where it ran around in a circle and then got hit by a bus.

But I’m going to blow your mind, friends. Kirby’s Dream Course is not only fantastic, not only is it a monumentally excellent game, but it’s also one of the best multiplayer games designed to make your friends completely hate you.

At it’s core, the KDC (that’s what it is, the KDC. That, or Kirby’s Dream Shit, which is much more derogatory) is a golf game with a Kirby twist: when you kill enemies, you get their powers. Using their powers let you do things like jump really high, turn into a rock, et cetera. Normal things for Kirby. The difference is, here you can chain together kills, chain powers to perform amazing feats of puzzling might. Nearly every hole is a puzzle you can solve in one shot, if you’re good, if you’re tricky.

And Kirby’s Dream Course encourages trickery to a degree that is unheard of in modern games. It is utterly, undeniably clever, much more clever than anyone has ever given it credit for. It requires precision, good planning, and some quick reflexes when your plan goes utterly, horribly awry. Honestly, it is a beautiful and joyous puzzle game, the kind that we get so rarely that rely not just on cleverness but also have some inklings of reflex involved. It’s a game that’s gotten in the way of my playing of Dragon Age, which is definitely saying something. It’s a brilliant, clever diversion.

What made me want to spout its virtues, though, was its multiplayer.

Kirby’s Dream Course has a multiplayer mode designed exclusively to make you hate your opponent. In effect, it plays like the single player, with a lot of enemies and a lot of obstacles, with the last enemy becoming the hole. But it’s so much greater than that. You see, when you kill an enemy, it leaves a star. That star goes to you. If your opponent were to hit that star, though, they claim it. If you hit your opponent, you send him flying, possibly off the level. Your powers, too, can help you limit your opponent’s chance to have turns, which makes it possibly the most hateful multiplayer game ever made.

It’s what more multiplayer games should be. Too many of them focus on either cooperation, or straight competitions of skill, the kind of things video games do well but that don’t capture the pure dickery of some board and card games. Kirby’s Dream Course feels like a card game: a fair bit of skill, a little bit of luck, and a lot of screwing your opponent over. It’s fantastic. It’s how multiplayer games should be: with you and your opponent going at it, face to face. Really, it reminds me of playing Goldeneye with proximity mines, or the end of Double Dragon where you fight to the death over the one kidnapped girl. It’s competitive moments like that that make multiplayer so much fun.

It’s a pretty brilliant game, and especially if you’ve got friends to play it with you owe it to yourself to check it out. Even if you don’t, it’s a pretty interesting puzzles that shouldn’t be forgotten.