Kirby Wii preview: King Dedede, you, and me

It's hard to speak about Kirby Wii without a tinge of regret, and harder still to do so after seeing this video of a very similar, cancelled Kirby title for the GameCube. The game was never quite "cancelled" per se, but it was put on hold for quite some time while its developer, HAL Laboratory, pursued other projects -- Picross 3D and Face Raiders, among others.

Among a mess of other logos flashed at the end of Nintendo's E3 2011 presser, Kirby Wii prominently stood out, reminding us that the game still exists. And when I spotted the game in Nintendo's press area available at a hands-on kiosk, I jumped at the chance to finally play the six year old game. What I found was a New Super Mario Bros. Wii meets single-player Smash Bros. Brawl mashup, with a hefty dollop of pink fluffy Kirby covering everything. Something not quite as "hardcore" looking as the GC game, but not far off.%Gallery-125891% Like the footage of the 2005 demo for GameCube, Kirby Wii is a four-player sidescrolling action game starring the eponymous Kirby and his various Pop Star cohorts. Unlike the original demo, however, Kirby Wii puts Kirby in command of the foursome, meaning only he can wear the various hats that grant new temporary "Super" abilities, and if he goes down, so does everyone else.

Those same co-op buddies can team up to help out the big K, with Meta Knight offering a sword, King Dedede offering a large mallet, and Waddle Dee offering ... umm, another character spot (okay okay, and a spear). Kirby can also obtain powers with his usual vacuum impersonation, as demonstrated in the video below.

As with Epic Yarn and other recent Kirby series entries, Kirby Wii's platforming and creature battles are light affairs, demanding little more than a bit of very basic puzzle solving or well-timed actions in the few levels I played. Kirby jumps and sucks in air, which can then be blown out to defeat enemies -- most things defeat enemies, actually. You can suck enemies in and shoot them out, you can destroy them with one of Kirby's many hat abilities (such as a giant sword), or you can shoot them at each other. There are also blocks, which you can totally suck up and ... you get the idea. It's very unlikely you'll meet your demise.

As if Kirby's design weren't adorable enough as is, the Candyland-esque world I explored during the demo was similarly cutesy and popping with color. It looked as though ice cream had been dripped all over a cardboard world, though it occasionally drained of color for warp zones. These areas, accessed via black holes in the world, are a tad more difficult than the normal level, and feature a giant wall of darkness constantly approaching while Kirby tries to snag as many points as possible and reach the end.

I even faced an early boss character -- a tree that was apparently out for justice -- which required little more than patience and some stars in the face to defeat. All in all, it felt like the 2D Kirby game fans have wanted for a long time, only not quite as difficult. The clip above, however, hints at deeper challenge later in the game, so I'm really looking to get more sucked in when it finally drops this fall.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.