Next year, Kirby celebrates his 20th birthday. He may not be as mature as his Nintendo counterparts Mario or Link, but he's an established member of the family and, of course, a firm favourite in a round of Super Smash Bros.

But unlike Mario and Link, Kirby's beginnings weren't so solid. His first outing, Kirby's Dream Land, was an interesting entry point for the pink blob (although he was still white back then!), yet it was only later on that he really got into his stride, with crazy power-stealing antics.

Now available for the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, Kirby's Dream Land in 2011 reveals how far gaming has truly come.

While there are moments of Nintendo magic packed away in this incredibly short experience, the game has not aged well, and the various sequels since have completed overshadowed it.

He's dreamy

Kirby's Dream Land chronicles our puffy hero's voyage to save his land from the dastardly King Dedede, who is essentially a really fat penguin with a hammer.

Over four worlds, Kirby must float through the air and eat his enemies. Gobbled baddies can then be spat back out to kill other foes, so prepare to hammer the swallow button a lot, since this is his only line of attack.

Kirby cannot float, however, if he has something in his mouth, so the game swiftly becomes a balancing act between eating your enemies and dodging around them. Knowing when to fight and when to leave it well alone is of paramount importance.

Visually, it's pretty cute stuff. Kirby's fat cheeks bloat even more as he flaps his arms about, while that silly grin lights up his face 95 per cent of the time. There are also plenty of 8-bit ditties to listen to, all very reminiscent of gaming gone by.

It sucks

Unfortunately for Kirby's Dream Land, much of its gameplay also demonstrates exactly how far Nintendo has come since those monochrome days of the early '90s.

Let's get straight to the heart of the matter: Kirby's Dream Land is around 30 minutes long. That's not rushing through it either - we took our time, and still completed it within half an hour.

The game also shoots itself in the foot by taking the best features of the (albeit brief) experience, the boss battles, and ruining them.

Boss battles come at the end of each level and are, in general, pretty entertaining. However, once you've completed all four worlds, you're then asked to beat the four bosses all over again to access the fifth one.

Not only that, but the final boss encounter - with King Dedede himself - is an utterly awful ordeal, leaving a bad taste in your mouth when the credits roll.

It also blows

The final nail in the coffin is the Extra Game mode that comes with the title. In the Game Boy version, when you completed the game, it was possible to then hold Up, A, and Select together to access a slightly harder version.

Try as we might, it appears that there is no way to access this mode on the Virtual Console edition. It tells us what to press on the screen, and we're definitely holding down the right buttons, but, alas, nothing happens.

Kirby's Dream Land was a decent start for a young Kirby back in 1992, but nearly 20 years on, it feels old and worthless.

Let's hope Nintendo throws the sequels up on the Virtual Console sometime soon, so that our love for Kirby can once again blossom.