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Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe Review

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1943609218_KirbyReturntoDreamlandDeluxeboxart.jpg.afa84a22abdd0e33a5ec4e63cb5a834f.jpgAfter his first foray into 3D platforming with Forgotten Land, Kirby returns to his 2D roots with this remaster of the 2011 Wii title. Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe brings a few new bells and whistles but is fundamentally all about bringing Kirby back to classic solid side-scrolling gameplay that the whole family can enjoy. It feels like a blast from the past in more ways than one, and serves as a good reminder of how fun Kirby's core gameplay formula truly is.
Kirby is hanging out on Planet Popstar with his pals when an alien named Magolor crash lands on the planet, scattering parts of his ship across the land. Kirby offers to help repair the ship and off we go on the adventure. It is an understandably story-light game, but the little cutscenes that you do get are pretty cute. Deluxe adds a chunk of new content at the end of the game called Magolor Epilogue that lets you play as him, though it is also not focused on storytelling. Still, the few new cutscenes and text that you get are pretty fun.
When the game was originally released on the Wii, it wasn't just a return to Dream Land for Kirby but a return to form. The previous few Kirby games (Epic Yarn, Mass Attack, and Canvas Curse several years prior) had played around with unique gameplay hooks, but Return to Dream Land brought the focus back to Kirby's iconic copy ability. Those core mechanics feel great here: there's a good amount of copy abilities available, they all have multiple uses, and there are the super abilities that grant you screen-clearing powers of destruction which are awfully satisfying, even if the super abilities are limited to specific stages. The core platforming also feels great. It runs through all of the basic platformer tropes—grassland/forest, underwater, ice, etc.—but Return to Dream Land does the classics so well that it's hard to complain. And of course, as a Kirby game, the difficulty is extremely lax, so it's a perfect game for young players or for getting the whole family involved with multiplayer.
Deluxe essentially adds a little bit of everything to the game. There are two new copy abilities, Mecha and Sand, which feel so at home with the game that if you didn't know you probably wouldn't even realize that they're new additions. A new even easier mode is available if you need it with Helper Magolor who saves you from dying in pits and increases your attack power. You can also carry an item into any stage as a backup health item or random copy ability as another handy way of easing the difficulty a bit. There are also additional multiplayer mini-games and a whole mode dedicated to them with Merry Magoland, which basically feels like a mini Mario Party. There are some mini-games that return from other Kirby games as well as a couple of brand new ones, and you can play locally or play a limited online competition mode where you essentially compete for high scores. Merry Magoland is cute but unless you're a big mini-game fan it'll feel like a lot of added fluff.
The Magolor Epilogue is the most substantial addition to Deluxe, with a brand new adventure that lets you play as Magolor. He doesn't have Kirby's copy ability but he does have a variety of magical attacks that you'll need to gradually unlock by collecting Magic Points, upgrading his skills, and defeating bosses. It's a cool change of pace for a Kirby game—the slight RPG feel of choosing how to upgrade his skills adds a satisfying sense of progression, and tackling the normal Kirby enemies and bosses with a completely different moveset is a fun challenge. You'll also gain bonus Magic Points by maintaining a long attack streak combo, so there's also a different sense of flow to each level as you try to maximize and maintain your combo chain. Magolor definitely feels slower and more clunky than Kirby when you first start out, but it's still a neat change of pace. Magolor Epilogue is sadly pretty short though, clocking in at around two hours, even though it feels like it could've sustained a longer adventure.
Kirby's adventure isn't too long either actually—around seven hours or so will get you through the entire story mode. However, there are plenty of extras to keep you occupied as well. Finishing the game unlocks Extra Mode which is essentially hard mode, there's the Arena—a Kirby staple that runs you through a gauntlet of bosses—and there are all of the multiplayer mini-games available as well. If you try to do everything in Return to Dream Land Deluxe, you'll stay busy for a good long while.
The game's presentation has also obviously seen an upgrade from the Wii's SD graphics. Everything is smoother, more detailed, and there's a stylish crisp outline around characters and enemies. In short, Deluxe looks great without completely overhauling all of the style and personality of the original Wii title. The soundtrack is also fun and bubbly, perfect for a cute and cheerful adventure with Kirby, and the new tracks for Magolor Epilogue are particularly great.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a trip well worth taking if you missed the Wii original. This is classic Kirby gameplay with a handful of new features for the Switch remaster, including a unique but all too brief epilogue adventure. On their own the Deluxe additions are perhaps only okay, but considering it's been a decade since the original and there's a sharp jump from SD to HD visuals, even veteran players can enjoy returning to one of Kirby's best adventures.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Copy Abilities
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