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Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review

Last year, Kirby and the Forgotten Land brought the beloved Kirby series into 3D for the first time, receiving very positive reviews, including from us here at My Nintendo News, as it exceeded the expectations of critics and fans around the world. Prior to this, back when the main-line Kirby titles were 2D platformers, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land (2011) on the Nintendo Wii was one of the most well-received games in the franchise. As it soon makes the leap over to Nintendo Switch on 24th February 2023 with an enhanced HD remaster, let’s find out if Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is really a dream come true, or if it should return to the land of nostalgia from whence it came.

When a spaceship crash lands on Planet Popstar, Kirby and his friends offer to help the mysterious owner of the ship, Magolor, in finding the missing aircraft pieces that have been scattered across the world to help get it up and running again. If you’re wanting an interesting and compelling narrative to tie into your adventure, the main story doesn’t go much beyond a simple, general explanation of your motives. That isn’t to say there isn’t any lore if you go looking for it, on the contrary, but the gameplay is what makes Kirby’s Return to Dream Land shine its brightest, and is personally where I got the most enjoyment.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a level-based side-scrolling platformer where your goal is to get to the end of the stage; defeating enemies, collecting items, and finding secrets in the process. As with most games of the genre, Kirby has a set number of lives that can easily be increased by either gathering 100 stars or finding a hidden 1-Up. You lose one of your lives if you fall off the stage, get squashed by a moving platform, or your health-bar is depleted by enemy attacks. Almost every level feels different from the last, complete with an imaginative aesthetic and upbeat music that you can’t help but smile while listening to. From the get-go, Kirby has his standard moveset of jumping, hovering, inhaling, swallowing, spitting, sliding, guarding, and dodging, with the real excitement, of course, coming from his signature Copy Abilities.

There are a total of 26 Copy Ability power-ups to be discovered and used throughout the levels, three of which didn’t appear in the original; those being Mecha, Sand, and Festival (originating from Kirby Star Allies). As always, Copy Abilities can be obtained by inhaling and swallowing select enemies, or by picking up one from a capsule. Each one is entirely unique, with a surprisingly robust set of attacks, and there weren’t any I particularly had a distaste for. All of them are satisfying to use as you make your way through the stages. In addition to the Copy Abilities, you’ll also come across a few Super Abilities, a mechanic that was created exclusively for Return to Dream Land, and they’re an absolute blast to use, making you feel super powerful.

With the exception of the boss battles, the main stages contain hidden Energy Spheres, and by finding them, you can unlock a variety of different modes, including special rooms dedicated to trying out Copy Abilities, and Challenge Stages to really test your skills. These side-stages in and of themselves aren’t inherently difficult, but getting a score that’s high enough to earn yourself a gold medal isn’t exactly a walk in the park. I found the Challenge Stages to be a nice change of pace to attempt every time I’d collect enough Energy Spheres to unlock another one.

While the main story is relatively short, taking only about 5-10 hours to complete, there is thankfully more where that came from, with plenty of other exciting modes to explore, including Extra Mode and The Arena. What’s commonly known as New Game+ in many other games, Extra Mode (unlocked after completing 70% of the main story) allows you to replay the entire game with a number of changes that make it much more difficult. The Arena is a boss-rush mode (unlocked after completing the main story) that puts you up against familiar bosses one after the other. If you’re looking for even more of a challenge though, you can also try your hand at The True Arena (unlocked after completing Extra Mode) for an even harder boss-rush.

If you’re one of the 1.79 million Wii owners that bought the original Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, you may be wondering what’s so different about the Deluxe version that would make it worth a double-dip. Fortunately, not only is the game now beautifully remastered in an HD resolution with updated graphics and detailing, Nintendo and HAL Laboratory also added quite a lot of new content to help justify it costing the same as other controversially priced Switch ports. This includes Magolor Epilogue: The Interdimensional Traveler, a brand new story mode that you’ll unlock after completing the main game, as well as Merry Magoland, an amusement park that’s filled with highly competitive, multiplayer Mario Party-style minigames.

As expected, Magolor Epilogue: The Interdimensional Traveler isn’t as extensive as the main game, but it’s a welcome inclusion that certainly adds major value to the overall package. Starting off with nothing more than a basic attack and jump, in this mode you play as the interdimensional travel Magolor, who has lost all of his powers between dimensions. As you progress through over 20 unique stages, you slowly retrieve and upgrade Magolor’s magical skills by collecting Magic Spheres that are dropped by the enemies you defeat. The stages of the Magolor Epilogue are just as imaginative and inspired as the ones in the main game, but with an interdimensional twist, and I thoroughly enjoyed actually getting to play as Magolor.

Merry Magoland includes a total of 10 sub-games from across the Kirby series, and as mentioned before, they are very reminiscent of minigames you would find in a Mario Party title. Each sub-game can be played alone or with up to 3 friends locally, with multiple difficulty options available. The more you play, the more you earn, as you fill out a Stamp Rally card to win masks for your characters to wear. Stamps are collected simply by playing, but you can gather up even more by completing the 100 total missions available. Although the sub-games aren’t very in-depth, they are all very replayable for short bursts of amusement, especially if you’re the type of person that loves working towards getting collectables. If you want to try Merry Magoland out for yourself, two of the sub-games can be played via a free demo available now on the Nintendo eShop.

It should also be mentioned that the entirety of the main story, as well as the Magolor Epilogue, can also be played with up to four players on one system. When playing the main story, your friends can play as either King Dedede, Meta Knight, or Bandana Waddle Dee, and when playing the Magolor Epilogue, you each play as a different coloured Magolor. I unfortunately wasn’t able to gather enough friends to try the local multiplayer modes out for myself, but I can only assume Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is even more exciting and chaotic with a group of friends or family to share it with.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe gives a gorgeous new coat of paint to one of the most charming 2D platformers of the Wii era. It features expertly-crafted level design, fun and easy to use mechanics, and incredibly cute, colourful environments that offers an excellent escape from the often grueling tasks of the real world. While the main story may not be difficult enough to appeal to the more hardcore gamers, it’s still an absolute joy to play from start to finish, and there is enough of a challenge in the bonus content to mean there is something for everyone. Adorable and delightful, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe scratches a Kirby-sized itch as we patiently wait for the next big original adventure featuring our favourite pink puffball friend.


A copy of Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe for review purposes was provided by Nintendo UK.

8 thoughts on “Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review”

  1. How was the new reviewer for this site? Saw them once a few weeks ago and haven’t seen ‘em since. Was hoping they would post more articles so I could get a feel for their personality and writing style. Miss Imcontaldi.

    1. She was just on a test run. We should have another permanent reviewer soon alongside the excellent Nintendojam! At the moment I’m happy with SSF1991 and myself covering the news, etc 😊

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