This game blows.
Kirby games have a bad habit of being released when a console is practically dead. Kirby's Dreamland 3 suffered this misfortune by being released a year after the Nintendo 64 was introduced. I was one of those people who passed over this game. I recall seeing it in video rental stores, but my attention was directed solely towards the N64 at that time. Besides, I had already played Kirby Super Star, the ultimate Kirby collection, so why did I need this game that seemed to ape Yoshi's Island visually?
Years later, I realized I made a wise decision by avoiding this game. I've played several Kirby games during my close to twenty years of gaming, and most of them have been a blast, despite their brevity and their tendency to not pose much of a challenge. I figured that Kirby's Dream Land 3 would be an enjoyable adventure too, since I enjoyed the previous Kirby's Dreamland games on Game Boy. Going into this game, I didn't expect the gameplay to be on par with Kirby Super Star, but I thought I would enjoy it. As it turns out, the game ended up being a forgettable experience, that just didn't feel up to typical Kirby standards.
Kirby's Dreamland 3 has a unique visual style for the series--it is somewhat akin to Yoshi's Island in that it features a pastel art style. Unfortunately, it looks bland, and the animations are limited unlike Yoshi's Island. The enemies often remain in place, or only move short distances, and they just don't move naturally. This makes it easy to simply float over the enemies if you are in a peaceful mood. Not only are the enemy animations bad, but the backgrounds look dull and uninspired. Past (and future) Kirby games had whimsical environments that made you feel like you were in a carefree, colorful world. Kirby's Dreamland 3 in comparison feels like you're walking through a dark alley with decaying buildings and potholes in the road. It just isn't pretty.
The game manages to have some decent music, but many of its best songs are remixes from past Kirby games. This doesn't leave a new player much to look forward to. The sound effects are fairly standard for a Kirby game, and aren't really worth mentioning.
Not everything about Kirby is bad however. It presents some great ideas that have been expanded on from past Dreamland games such as including animal helpers. There are now more helpers than ever before, and you can combine moves you learn from swallowing enemies with your animal of choice. For example, if you swallow a flame enemy, Kirby can engulf himself and rocket towards enemies like a fireball. If he finds a bird helper, he can shoot the bird as a homing missile. A rodent helper on the other hand will spit flames towards enemies that are in his path. While the amount of abilities are rather limited compared to Kirby Super Star, you're able to make plenty of combinations with the game's various animal helpers. This gives Kirby a sizeable move set, but I miss being able to turn into a ninja and have four or so different moves, or being able to charge plasma shots.
The length of the game is a little on the short side, with only five worlds to explore, but each level has a secret to unlock, for the dedicated gamer. Some of these secrets are fairly difficult to discover, so it could take awhile to get 100% completion. The game wasn't compelling enough for me to find every secret, but it was cool running into familiar Nintendo characters on certain courses.
I can only recommend this game to the diehard Kirby fan. It wasn't much fun, and I've played almost every game in the Kirby pantheon. The game certainly isn't broken, but the mundane levels make me feel like I'm scrubbing toilets. Okay, they're not that bad, but the game just isn't worth eight bucks, unless you're like me and want to have experienced every Kirby game.