Kirby is by no means one of Nintendo’s forgotten franchises. In fact, just last year it received its first true foray into the world of 3D platformers through an entirely new title. But while it’s quite popular and known by many players, some fans might have missed the pink puffball’s previous adventures. Enter Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe, a remake of the Wii co-op classic that is fun and friendly for beginners, and adorable enough that any player will stay hooked on the art and music for a long time.
No need to fix what’s not broken
Return to Dream Land Deluxe won’t really make any headlines for innovation. After all, this is strictly a remake of the Wii title released on 2011, and while some content and abilities have been added the gameplay mostly stayed the same. However, what’s already there is top-tier Kirby gameplay.
The story is also quite basic for the franchise: Kirby and friends find a new friend-shaped alien (Magolor) that recently crashlanded on Planet Popstar, so they decide to help the interdimensional space wizard by gathering the scattered pieces of their ship so they can go back home. This leads the round hero to explore eight different worlds through several stages, all filled with cute monsters, big bosses, and some incredibly upbeat tunes.
Kirby is able to swallow his enemies, and doing so lets him copy their abilities to use for as long as he can keep them. These Copy Abilities range from turning into a rock to getting a sword to fight with, being able to spit water like a fountain, turning into a wheel, and much more. In fact, the Deluxe remake has added two new abilities from other Kirby games: Sand gives him a crown that allows him to throw sand waves and turn into a castle, while Mecha gives the hero a full suit of mechanical armor complete with jetpacks, rocket punches, and lasers.
At certain points, you’re even able to find power ups that give Kirby access to Super Abilities, which are powered-up versions of common copy abilities that result in screen-clearing attacks. This all comes together with the platforming to create simple yet fun levels. You won’t really be challenged much until you reach beyond the halfway point of the game, at which moment everything starts being weaved together to make a more puzzle-like level design in which using different abilities allows you to reach the end of levels. But it won’t ever be extremely difficult (which can be great for certain types of players!)
If you’re playing in coop, players can also choose between King Dedede, Metaknight, or Bandana Waddle Dee. They each come with their own abilities, so they can’t copy abilities, but later on, you can let everyone play with different colored Kirbys (Kirbi? Kirbyses?) to do so. Co-op players can share 1UPs, piggyback ride on top of each other, and in general cause chaos and mayhem across Dream Land. To be fair, this mode takes away almost all the challenge, since your team is nigh unstoppable, but it makes for a really fun time.
Some treats for dedicated fans
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is perfectly fine as it was when it was originally released on the Wii, but Nintendo has gone above and beyond with this remake. Apart from the incredibly obvious visual upgrade of this version (which makes it more colorful, and adds thick outlines to the characters that really makes them pop), the developers chose to add a few extras to the game for those who did get to play the original.
We previously mentioned some new abilities, but more notably they also included an entire additional mini-campaign that is unlocked after finishing the main game once. Called Magolor Epilogue: The Interdimensional Traveler, this new mode sees you venturing through entirely new levels while playing as the titular wizard, who is also the surprise antagonist of the main story. While not going into many details, this epilogue sees Magolor making his way back home after the events of Return to Dream Land.
Surprisingly, there’s an entirely new gameplay system in this mode that makes us think this is actually some sort of prototype for a different title. Magolor begins the mode weakened and without his powers, but as you play you help him unlock his abilities once again through a progression system. By the time you reach the end, the wizard is almost back to full power and you find yourself blasting around using all of his explosive abilities, all at once. It’s quite a different experience from the main game, but one that is thoroughly enjoyable, at the very least because it presents a bit more of a challenge than anything else in the title.
If all of that still wasn't good enough for you, then you can also enjoy a new collection of minigames through another entirely new mode: Merry Magoland is a theme park where you and your friends can enjoy a variety of quick activities, similar to Mario Party, but entirely focused on the games.
All in all, this title is an excellent entry title for younger players and people new to the medium, but fans of the little round hero will still get an incredibly good experience if they jump into the game.
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is now available exclusively on Nintendo Switch.