Kirby’s Return To Dream Land Deluxe rounds out the iconic pink puffball’s 30th anniversary celebrations. His third birthday bump after Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Kirby’s Dream Buffet, HAL Laboratory has waved its Star Rod to remaster 2011 Wii classic Kirby’s Return To Dream Land – which is known as Kirby’s Adventure Wii in Europe. The result is wondrous.
The original game had followed where New Super Mario Bros. Wii‘s hefty Goomba’s Shoe had first trod, furthering Nintendo’s constant push to create gameplay experiences that family and friends can enjoy together – a mantra that the Wii had embodied from the outset. The Nintendo Switch has ably carried that baton to make it a perfect home for this Kirby outing, delivering another cooperative platforming adventure in which you can share Joy-Con controllers to play with up to four people whenever you wish.
Whether choosing to play solo as Kirby or teaming up with others to see King Dedede, Meta Knight and Bandana Waddle Dee join you, your quest this time around is focused on helping the mysterious magician Magolor after his spaceship crashlands on Planet Popstar. Desperate to return to his home planet, you will need to recover the crucial parts that have broken off from it and the many Energy Spheres that kept it powered.
With its story largely conveyed through wordless storybook sequences, that adventure will take you from Cookie Country’s colourful greenery to the sun-scorched deserts of Raisin Ruins and far beyond. Now resplendent in high-definition thanks to its graphical overhaul, Kirby’s Return To Dream Land Deluxe is a beautifully captivating game to behold that HAL Laboratory – with help from Vanpool – has clearly treated with much care. The developer has breathed more life into Planet Popstar compared to what I remember from the original Wii version, the experience is all the better for it with even the game’s characters treated to strikingly bold outlines that threw my mind back to Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS when I first saw them.
Seeing as this is a remaster (or a remake to some, but I won’t wade into that argument), much of the experience remains the same, for better or worse. The game’s main Story mode is as carefree, fun and accessible as it always was, but, despite many standout boss encounters, secrets to uncover and engaging level design, there is an ease to the difficulty that is hard to ignore. There isn’t a tremendous challenge in seeing the game through to its credits – especially with the optional Helper Magolor assist that chucks recovery items at you and rescues you from pits that you awkwardly tumble into – but the more hardcore audience would argue that comes from overcoming the Extra mode that you can unlock upon completion.
This not only reduces the maximum health of Kirby and his pals and increases the rarity of recovery items, but it heightens the threat that you will face from bosses who now have different attack patterns from before. The problem is, the expectation with Extra mode is that you will want to replay the entire game from the start. After beating Story mode, that was the last thing that I wanted to do and I can’t understand why the choice between them wasn’t available from the start. Especially as there will be many like me who have already seen the game through to its conclusion on Wii.
With Copy Abilities once again at Kirby’s disposal, you can expect returning favourites such as the seemingly Link-inspired Sword, superhero-like Hi-Jump or to take flight with Wing. The Festival Copy Ability has been added in from 2018’s Kirby Star Allies, whereas HAL Laboratory has come up with brand new Copy Abilities in Sand and Mecha. These let Kirby transform the beach-associated granular material into shapes such as fists and castles, or take to the skies using a futuristic jetpack that doubles up as potent shoulder-mounted plasma cannons. Neither feels like an abandoned idea plucked from a scrap heap, both being well-thought-out and considered in their design and implementation that welcomingly expand the pink puffball’s arsenal.
Have Kirby inhale and gulp down glowing foes that cross your path, and you will be able to temporarily use Super Abilities. Whether slicing your way through enemies and terrain with the Ultra Sword, unleashing fiery dragons using Monster Flame, or rolling around as a giant snowball with Snow Bowl, these look spectacular and deliver the game’s outrageously destructive moments.
Kirby’s Return To Dream Land Deluxe isn’t short on content to keep you busy. The Energy Spheres that you retrieve steadily reactivate otherwise inaccessible broken doors aboard Magolor’s spaceship, unlocking Copy Ability-specific Challenge Stages and multiplayer-orientated Subgames. These are more playfully presented in Merry Magoland, a “fantastical amusement park” built by Magolor so that he could entertain his friends. You can participate in the subgame-based attractions to earn stamps to complete Stamp Rally cards, rewarding you with new dress-up masks to wear and souvenir items that you can choose to use in Story mode. There are also Missions that Magolor challenges to complete, encouraging you to spend more time playing the subgames in an effort to gain the stamps needed to unlock every mask.
Everyone will have their own favourites, but the subgames include Samurai Kirby where the fastest reaction speed wins, gulping as many eggs (but not bombs!) as you can in Egg Catcher, removing floor blocks to eliminate your rivals in Checkerboard Chase, and Magolor’s Tome Trackers where you are challenged to grab the Magic Tome with the same cover image that Magolor is thinking about. After competing in your first few subgames, Magoland Tours will unlock which will see you participate in four attractions – the player with the most points at the end being declared the winner. With the Missions and dress-up mask rewards helping to structure my time with these subgames, there’s more than enough fun to be found here even when I was playing solo.
It is Magolor Epilogue: The Interdimensional Traveler that is the game’s most substantial addition, which can be accessed after clearing Story mode. You play as the magician in this new content, who wakes up to learn that he has lost his magical abilities and much of his strength. Without the help of Copy Abilities, you set out to gather Fruit Fragments to restore his abilities and must collect Magic Points that can be used to increase their power. That could extend the range of the standard Magic Sphere that he casts, increase the blast radius of his Magic Bomb, allow him to fly for longer to cross larger gaps, or simply increase his health.
Playing as a character other than the pink puffball was a welcome change of pace, differentiated from the rest of what Kirby’s Return To Dream Land Deluxe has to offer. When you aren’t working your way through the new stages to escape from this realm between dimensions, you can take on Ordeal Doors – which are special challenge stages for Magloro to overcome.
Kirby’s Return To Dream Land Deluxe is packed with heartwarming charm, but it lacks HAL Laboratory’s playful invention that was to come later on Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch. There’s still more than enough fun to be found here, especially when playing with family and friends, but even with the new additions there isn’t as much that excites compared to the pink puffball’s more recent adventures. Kirby Planet Robobot next, please.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Nintendo