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Prerelease:Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land

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This page details prerelease information and/or media for Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land.

The game had a rather quiet development; its earliest appearance dates back to the release of some screenshots and a trailer during E3 2002. E3 2002 took place May 22-24, about five months before the game's release in Japan, which was also without much announcement, you may also find these screenshots on the Nintendo of Japan Archive webpage.

E3 2002


These seem to depict the same version as the trailer does.

Early Hammer Ability

Kirby Nightmare in Dream Land Prerelease 1.jpg

The Hammer ability, like all the other abilities introduced in Kirby's Adventure (which this game is a remake of), has no copy ability hat. Even though the other abilities were updated with their respective copy ability hats from Kirby Super Star, Hammer didn't get anything, although this might be because it never had a copy ability hat in that game, either. In the final game, Kirby was given a blue-and-white headband.

Early Throw Ability

Kirby Nightmare in Dream Land Prerelease 3.jpg

Enemies thrown by the Throw ability at this point take on the shape of stars like the ones Kirby exhales, which is how the ability behaves in Kirby's Adventure. In the final, thrown enemies stay in their normal form.

Early Spark Ability

Kirby Nightmare in Dream Land Prerelease 5.jpeg

The Spark ability here has a simple headband; the final version has a more detailed headpiece.

Early Waddle Dee

Kirby Nightmare in Dream Land Prerelease 2.jpg
Kirby Nightmare in Dream Land Prerelease 4.jpg

The Waddle Dees in what appears to be a level from Ice Cream Island use a different sprite with slightly larger eyes and have a dark red-orange palette compared to the bright orange one used in the final game.

(Source: Nintendo E3 2002 press CD)


Early gameplay footage from E3 2002 contains some exclusive and very different content not seen in the final game.


  • When Kirby gets a copy ability, the "ability get" sound effect is missing.
  • Kirby is seen using the Burning ability's dash attack, but his hat corresponds to the Fire ability. Even more odd, while abilities in the game's NES counterpart were limited to one attack each, Fire Kirby was seen using his standard fire breath attack earlier, meaning the ability had two attacks at this point in development.
  • The spikes on Needle Kirby's hat are considerably shorter.
  • Wheel Kirby is a darker shade of red and makes a different noise in wheel form.
  • The Hi-Jump ability not only makes a different noise when Kirby jumps, it's missing a hat entirely!
  • Strangely enough, Backdrop's attacks were given to the Throw ability, distinguished by the blue headband Kirby wears.
  • Aside from using a simpler design, Spark ability doesn't make any noise when used.
  • Stone does not change Kirby's color scheme, keeping him pink, whereas the final version gives Kirby a brown-like tone. Interestingly, Nightmare in Dream Land's official art for the Stone ability still depicts Kirby with a pink color scheme.
  • The Laser ability works a lot like it did in the NES version, with Kirby firing lasers from his hands and lacking a copy ability hat. The laser shots themselves also seem to take slightly longer to charge up.
  • The beam whip Kirby uses with the Beam ability is much plainer, also resembling its NES appearance.
  • Similar to the instance with Fire/Burning and Backdrop/Throw earlier in the trailer, Kirby is seen using the Freeze ability's ice shield while using the hat for the Ice ability. It's possible the developers originally condensed similar abilities before leaving them separate for the sake of staying true to the original game.
  • The animation for Light Kirby has different effects.
  • The Mike ability uses a similar sound effect to the NES version. In the final game, this sound was replaced with a voice clip.


  • The ability icon in the bottom left-hand corner is absent.
  • Throughout the entire trailer, Kirby's score is set to 12345678.


  • The Waddle Dees use an earlier design.
  • The fight with Meta Knight takes place in a room with an unused green checkerboard tileset and a background resembling puzzle pieces. Moreover, not only is Meta Knight's sword thinner, the cry Kirby makes when he takes damage is noticeably louder than in the final game (where his cries are drowned out by music and sound effects).
  • Some of the doors are blue for unknown reasons.
  • There are several areas not present in the final game. Since they're filled with common enemies, they were most likely used to test Kirby's copy abilities.
  • An early version of the Vegetable Valley theme is heard throughout the trailer. Compared to the final game, it is closer melody-wise to the NES theme, but has a more "hollow" instrumentation.

(Source: media.nintendo.com)

Japanese Minisite


Early Poppy Bros. Sr.

Kirby Nightmare in Dream Land Prerelease5.png

A screenshot from the Japanese minisite depicts a very different design for the Poppy Bros. Sr. midboss that uses an overall darker palette. The most notable differences are the smaller and simpler eyes, a slightly smaller hat, and a black outline on the collar (the final game uses a gray outline instead).