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Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe Review

A familiar stopgap adventure

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In 2022 we entered some unfamiliar territory with Kirby, as the pink puff made the full jump to 3D for the first time. It was a successful endeavor, though, as Kirby and the Forgotten Land stands as one of the best entries to date in the long and varied franchise. While we are waiting to hear what the next new adventure will be, HAL Laboratory decided to bring one of their older titles to the Nintendo Switch in the form of Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe

Originally released for the Nintendo Wii back in 2011, Return to Dream Land is classic Kirby with a bit of a twist. It's a traditional 2.5D side-scroller, but with the added gimmick of co-operative multiplayer. Whether as different versions of Kirby, or as franchise stalwarts King Dedede, Meta Knight and Bandana Waddle Dee, up to four players can tackle the entirety of the adventure together. Kirby's allies may lack the ability to copy powers, but they are each effective in their own way. The multiplayer options are fun, but far from essential. If anything, the chaotic nature of four players sharing the screen at once makes the title even easier than it already is. It's also not as enjoyable to mess around with your friends as it is in the multiplayer modes from the modern Mario games.

Although designed with multiplayer in mind, you won't lose anything by going through the adventure solo. From the copious number of abilities to copy to the straight-forward level design, the game is classic Kirby through and through. Introduced in this game are Super Abilities, which are more powerful versions of some of the basic abilities. These give Kirby access to screen-clearing attacks that can destroy whole lines of enemies with a single strike. They can also be used to clear pieces of the environment to unveil bonus items and hidden locations.

You'll need to take advantage of every copy ability Kirby has so you can track down the countless collectibles strewn throughout. For Return to Dream Land, Kirby is tasked with assisting stranded alien Magolor with repairing his ship. To do this, he will need to locate five different pieces of his ship, as well as 120 spheres of energy. Upon collecting all these items, Magolor has offered to bring Kirby and friends to his home planet of Halcandra. Being the upstanding figure he is, Kirby probably would have helped for free, but a trip to a new planet doesn't hurt.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe

As with Kirby's last adventure, you can more or less ignore the story here. The tale of Magolor is essentially only here to give a reason for why Kirby has to collect a bunch of items in the first place. No one comes to these games for the story, though. It's the gameplay that has allowed the character to become endearing to generations of gamers. Return to Dream Land is no different in that regard. It's an enjoyable platformer that does a great job of mixing in all the different skills Kirby can acquire in a level. You don't need to constantly cycle through abilities, but to uncover all the title's secrets, you'll need to be proactive in this area. Sniffing out secret items and areas is about as challenging as the regular campaign gets, as this is one of the easier platformers out there. However, the Extra Mode that unlocks after completing the story once offers a more significant and rewarding challenge.

In addition to the main campaign, there are a handful of other activities for you to partake in. The energy spheres you collect unlock different challenges located throughout Magolor's ship. These are divided into two categories and separated into specific rooms aboard the ship. One batch of challenges has you using specific copy abilities Kirby can wield to clear time trials. They aren't challenging to complete but getting gold medals for each of them is tricky. The other segmented room is devoted to assorted mini games that can either be played solo or multiplayer. I would classify them as Mario Party mini-game level of fun. There's not a ton of depth to them, but they're fun enough. These mini games can also be located in Merry Magoland, which is a hub location that has been added specifically for this remaster.

For Return to Dream Land Deluxe, the developer wasn't just content with giving the title a visual refinement and calling it a day. HAL Laboratory has added in several new features to the game. Two new copy abilities have been added for Kirby to acquire, which brings the total amount available to over 20. Sand Kirby lets the pink puff kick and blast sand into enemies, while Mecha Kirby gives him a sweet mech suit to fire bombs and missiles from. Mecha is one of the strongest forms out there, and something I would recommend to new players immediately to seek out. While I already found the main campaign to be incredibly easy, for the younger gamers out there, the Helper Magolor feature could be fruitful. If Kirby falls into a pit, or is lacking in health, Magolor will pop up and help save the day. I think most players will be fine without having to turn this on, but it's a nice feature to have for those that may struggle.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe

The biggest addition in this remaster, though, is the new story chapter: Magolor Epilogue: The Interdimensional Traveler. Unlocked after you complete the main story, the epilogue follows a de-powered Magolor as he attempts to make his way back home. As you progress through the chapter, you'll slowly unlock new skills and level them up so that he can reach the power level he previously achieved. Unlike the main story, this chapter provides a robust challenge. Magolor is not nearly as powerful as Kirby, and the early portions of the story are brutal due your limited strength. It doesn't help that the controls feel off, particularly when it comes to using abilities such as Magolor Surge and Magic Barrier. Still, it's a nice addition to the title, and serves as a fun capper on the story.

Since this is a remaster of a decade old Wii game, the visuals can only be improved so much. Thankfully, the cartoony art style masks most of the technical blemishes the graphics have. It's Kirby, so everything is pretty cute and colorful across the board. It's when you look at effects such as fire, or the relatively barebones levels do you see how dated it can look. More disappointing to me is how often you see the same enemy and boss designs. They are constantly repeated throughout the campaign and having to fight the same style of boss across multiple levels gets old fast.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a decent remaster of a solid platformer. It's one of the tamer adventures out there, sacrificing gimmicks for competent 2D platforming. It's not going to awe anyone with creativity, though, and the meager challenge of the campaign may turn off more experienced fans of the genre. There are plenty of options out there for those fans on the Switch. For the younger crowd, though, the simple story mode and collection of mini games should provide ample fun.

Our ratings for Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe on Switch out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
The colorful art style and cutesy designs help mask the fact that this is a remaster of a Wii game from 2011. The repetitive enemy designs and bland levels can't be covered up, though.
The amount of copy abilities gives you plenty of ways to tackle the campaign, and they are all at least kind of fun to use. Controlling Magolor in his side-story can feel a little stiff in parts.
Single Player
You can ignore the story entirely, but the bigger issue is just how easy it is to complete the campaign. The Extra Mode provides a stiffer test, but it would have been nice to be able to jump into that from the get-go.
There's nothing groundbreaking here, but both the four-player campaign and assorted mini-games are fun enough.
No major issues to report when playing either in handheld or docked. Restarting levels from the pause menu could probably have been sped up a little bit.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe turns a solid Wii platformer into a slightly better Nintendo Switch title. The extra copy abilities are fun to use, and Magolor's Epilogue is a good way to wrap up the story. However, the lack of challenge in the campaign is difficult to look past.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe box art Platform:
Our Review of Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe is ranked #1378 out of 1970 total reviewed games. It is ranked #60 out of 101 games reviewed in 2023.
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PlayStation 5
1378. Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe
1379. Scars Above
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