Kirby’s Return to Dream Land was esteemed as one of the strongest entries into the Kirby franchise when it was initially released on Wii in 2011, offering a traditional yet modern Kirby experience, so there were some pretty high expectations to meet when Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe was announced to launch on Nintendo Switch over ten years later following its predecessor’s high praise.
Return to Dream Land (2011) encapsulated everything players adored about Kirby, with bright and colorful character design, simple yet satisfying platforming to complete, and of course, everyone’s favorite bright pink protagonist, but it still defines its own identity by offering destructive super abilities and new areas to explore, making it feel familiar yet fresh.
So one of the main concerns any player faces when going into a remake is whether it’ll be exactly the experience you had the first time you picked up a title or whether there will be a number of changes to alter the experience enough to keep it fresh and modern as opposed to a carbon copy. While one of the reasons many of us pick up a remake of a title as well-loved as Kirby’s Return to Dream Land is familiarity, it still manages to offer a few new elements such as a new epilogue and a few new copy abilities to keep things exciting.
Let’s Get to Grips with Gameplay
Gameplay itself is in no way challenging — and the simple platforming elements of the initial few stages mean that it takes you a few hours to really get stuck into the story — but the improved graphics and bright visuals alongside some high-quality animated cutscenes keep the first few hours fun, and when you’re starting to get to grips with the story a few areas in, you’ll start to see exactly what makes Return to Dream Land so special.
Before long, you’ll have to rely on Kirby’s copy abilities to progress through a level. Whether that’s using a water ability to cross fiery platforms or Kirby’s Whip Ability to take down anything hovering above you, it’s a more ingenious way of bringing fun to taking down hordes of enemies instead of jumping over them in the ample open space of the initial few levels. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it helps bring life to Kirby’s Copy Abilities instead of just being a way to clear enemies and helping you look for a new angle in sticky situations where you need to find a solution quickly.
Related: How to Play the Kirby Games in Order
Plus, with the newest additions for Copy Abilities, there’s something fresh about Kirby’s powers for gamers who have played through these not-so-challenging levels before. These abilities promote how Return to Dream Land is more than just a re-skin of a classic title and offers a little more compared to the original. There’s a lot to build on without shaking any of the original’s charm, and even well-versed, veteran players will have new skills to harness and learn.
Everything is Fun with Friends
With a game like Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, the ability to play alongside friends is a welcome one, but that’s not to say the game is equipped and designed to offer the same challenge for four players as there is for a solo adventurer. As you’d expect with multiplayer in a simple platforming game, there is not a lot of challenge in each level to distract you from generally using multiplayer to goof around and have fun rather than focusing on the game and challenge at hand.
Even boss battles pose no threat to multiple players, and since their attack patterns are easily tracked anyway, four players attacking at once will only delay these attacks and make it almost laughably easy to take down enemies. Essentially, each level — regardless of how far into the game you are — becomes a race among friends to see who can reach the end first or cause the most damage. The brute force of each player attacking at the same time makes any enemy attack void, which is great for any player who needs extra help, but can be a bit frustrating if you want a decent multiplayer gaming experience without feeling completely overpowering.
Related: Is There Online Play in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe?
But, going back to the core values of Kirby, these games are designed to be fun rather than infuriatingly challenging among friends, unlike something like Super Mario 3D World, which makes you rely so heavily on teamwork and communication to make any sort of progress. It also makes gameplay entirely welcoming to new and younger gamers who can jump in without having to worry about memorizing any core mechanics and having to know the controls’ ins and outs to add to the experience.
Post-Game Promises and Merry Magoland
Though even when you think you’ve finished, there’s still content to sink your teeth into, with one of the most noticeable additions being Magolor’s Epilogue which offers a completely new, two-ish hour experience. Levels are similarly designed to the main storyline, but you begin the tale very weak and with minimal attacks. As you progress, you’ll gain new powers and work on picking your strength back up — a physical representation of your journey through the story to help you acknowledge that you are headed in the right direction — which is particularly rewarding since you can breeze through the central storyline of Dream Land Deluxe without any issues.
In a way, it’s a shame that the epilogue isn’t available from the beginning of the game for any returning players since you’ll have to embark on the same base adventure to unlock the most significant dose of new content. However, it does make sure that you’re making the most of the entire adventure rather than just making a beeline for the new parts and missing out on what is a genuinely enjoyable revisit of an incredible game.
Furthermore, Merry Magoland also offers players an incentive to re-do levels and find stamps to unlock new minigames, so there’s a huge amount of replayability for anyone who wants to make the most of their experience with the game and have alternative games to jump in and out of when you don’t fancy level after level of platforming and want to try something new. So even though it’s easy to enjoy the game without giving Merry Magoland a second thought, it’s a fun incentive to keep playing and maintain the adventure.
Although players of the original Kirby’s Return to Dream Land will appreciate the experience of re-visiting the title with better graphics and smoother gameplay, the title is still just as appealing to new players who want an authentic Kirby experience. In comparison to a game like Kirby and the Forgotten Land, it’s nowhere near as explorative. Controls and levels are linear and simple to jump in and out of — which some may think is more restrictive — but it’s a perfect remaster of a loved game.
It eschews challenge in every sense of the word. However, it still offers a fun, traditional experience with well-loved characters that doesn’t stray too far from the 2011 release, but still manages to build upon its foundations to remain relevant, up-to-date, and, most importantly, fun. If you want an authentic platforming Kirby experience, then Return to Dream Land Deluxe ticks all the boxes regardless of whether you’ve played the original or not.
- This article was updated on March 6th, 2023