Kirby fans have been enjoying an all-out buffet in the Switch generation. From mainline games to free-to-play spin-offs, a large variety of games featuring our favorite pink fluff ball is available to play. Last year, he entered the third dimension for the first time in Kirby and The Forgotten Land. This year, Kirby returns to his roots in a remake of a beloved Wii title. Let’s see if Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is worthy of its deluxe title.
On a sunny day, Kirby and his friends are playing on Planet Popstar. Suddenly, the sky is disturbed by a crashing airship. That ship belongs to the interdimensional traveler Magolor, who needs help recovering the parts of his ship and asks Kirby and his friends for help. In return, he’ll take them on a trip to his home planet. Of course, he obliges, and they set out on a journey to rebuild the Lor Starcutter!
Return to Dream Land tells a basic story that anyone can sympathize with. This family-friendly story is expectedly nothing special but provides opportunities for great action set-pieces. As such, the tale perfectly executes its goal. If I had to give any piece of criticism, it’s that some of the dimensional aspects aren’t explained, but that’s just nitpicking. The story does what it needs to do and nothing more, which fits Kirby like a glove.
I have to be honest: when I was asked to review this game, I expected an easy, mostly mindless platformer. While I wasn’t wrong, I wasn’t entirely right either. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is expectedly incredibly accessible, the game is always engaging and does a great job at keeping you on your toes.
Controls and Copy Abilities
Any platformer needs an agile hero and Kirby certainly fits the bill. Aside from his expected jump, he can also puff up and float to do as many midair jumps as he wants. To attack, he has his signature suck-and-spit to turn any object or enemy into a weapon. More importantly, some enemies can be digested to obtain their Copy ability, which makes encountering new enemies a true delight. These can offer a wide variety of new powers, from melee strikes to mobility. However, if you’re floating, you cannot immediately chain it into a Copy Ability Attack, you need to puff out first. This makes floating around a risk, as it leaves you vulnerable while airborne.
Additionally, you’ll come across some extra movement options, such as swimming and using a giant shoe to bounce around. Swimming might feel clunky at points, particularly in combat or when trying to jump out of the water, but apart from that, Kirby is always a joy to jump around with!
The Lor’s parts are scattered all across Planet Popstar, and as such, you’ll be visiting a variety of sites to rebuild the ship. From grassy plains to a cold mountain, you will never get bored with the scenery! These aren’t just backgrounds either; you’ll certainly need to take the environment into account! Each stage also gives its own take on the level’s theme. For instance, the second area is beach themed, and you’ll be doing lots of swimming. In one stage in particular, you’ll have the additional gimmick of swimming through strong currents. As such, the variety in stage design is excellent throughout!
Throughout the areas, you’ll need to keep your eyes open for some collectibles. Stars are scattered all over the place, and getting 100 grants you a free 1-up. While I am a bit disappointed that’s all there is to the most plentiful collectible, it’s enough to keep you chasing after the shinies. You’ll also find extra 1-ups in the levels themselves, so you’re unlikely to run out.
Most important are the energy spheres, additional parts to unlock extra stages in the Lor, which we’ll discuss later. These are often the most challenging collectibles to find, but they’re manageable if you’re thorough. However, there are many spheres that are easy to miss, with no way to backtrack. This would be manageable, but the game does not feature an easy level retry button in the regular stages. If you are locked out of getting an energy sphere, all you can do is either self-destruct or leave and re-enter the level. It’s quite a hassle. Lastly, you also might come across some tickets, which we’ll cover later.
Overall, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe boasts great levels that feel great to explore!
If you want to collect all missing segments of the Lor, many foes will stand in your way. At some points through your journey, you might even encounter some bosses. While the mid-bosses you can come across aren’t the most memorable, the ones concluding each level are spectacular. These two-staged boss fights, like the famous Whispy Woods, make for a great finale to a level. If you do get hit pretty badly, you’re not defenseless, as the boss’ powerful attacks leave stars that you can inhale and spit back. These are engaging battles that are always a delight.
Super Abilities & Another Dimension
What makes this Kirby game unique is the existence of Super Abilities. In some stages, you’ll find an empowered enemy, and its defeat grants Kirby a Super Ability, a powerful form to unleash havoc with. You can’t just violently mash buttons though; some enemies require you to carefully aim and time your attacks, making for a great mix between power fantasy and careful, engaging gameplay.
Successfully clearing an area with these Super Abilities can open up a portal to Another Dimension, presenting you a two-staged challenge that awards you two energy spheres. The first strands you in a race against a dimensional wall without a Copy Ability, requiring you to complete an obstacle course without fault before the wall catches up. These are some of the most challenging parts of the game, as you really have a low margin for error. If you do manage to survive, you’ll be given a Copy Ability from a small selection and fight a Sphere Doomer boss fight. They do often change their element to prevent repetitiveness. All this creates a rewarding and challenging platforming course that is worth the interdimensional trip.
As mentioned earlier, collecting enough energy spheres unlocks new activities in the Lor Starcutter. First off, you can get access to rooms where you’re able to try out the various Copy Abilities in the game. Secondly, you’ll unlock some subgames, which I’ll discuss in the next segment. Last but not least, you unlock some special challenge levels which require you to use the full extent of a specific Copy Ability. Getting through one of these isn’t hard, but getting a gold medal will require thoughtful platforming.
If you want even more challenge, beating the game and getting enough energy spheres unlocks Extra Mode, which involves playing through the game again with less health and more difficult enemies and bosses. And if you yearn for more Kirby combat, the Arena is another post-game reward, allowing you to play through a good old boss rush. There’s plenty to do in this game, and that’s not the end of it!
Multiplayer, Subgames & Merry Megoland
If you are seeking to play with friends or family, this game has you covered! The entire campaign can be played with up to 3 friends, and they can even play as Bandana Waddledee, Meta Knight, King Dedede, or another Kirby.
If you want to just have some quick fun, you can visit the Lor and try out one of the subgames. These are a wide variety of minigames that can be played with friends, and they’re plenty of simple fun! Weirdly enough, they’re also accessible in another mode, one exclusive to the Deluxe game. Merry Magoland features all the subgames, without having to unlock them by collecting enough energy spheres. There, you can also earn achievements and tickets (the latter of which can also be earned on the Lor or found in levels). Getting enough stickers also allows you to earn items for use in stages or masks of iconic Kirby characters to wear.
Extra Story: Magolor Epilogue
All that I have discussed further is exclusive to the main game, starring Kirby and friends. However, this remake has one additional ace up its sleeve: the post-game epilogue starring the Interdimensional Traveler Magolor. Weakened after his journey, he starts off weak and powerless. As you progress through the stages, you’ll collect points that allow you to upgrade Magolor’s abilities and even gain new ones. This progression and the choices you make result in an incredibly satisfying campaign.
It could do with some more level variety though. Compared to the base game, the area’s themes don’t influence the level design that much. Luckily, the mode is short enough to prevent it from getting boring. The boss fights are also reskinned from Kirby’s adventure, but they were given enough changes to keep it interesting. Speaking of bosses, I might just be bad at video games, but the epilogue’s finale was quite challenging. Another issue I have is that Magolor’s Magic gauge is not always visible, making it difficult to see how long it takes until you can fire up your strongest attack. However, even if you already have played the original Wii game, this mode makes it worth your while.
As one of Nintendo’s flagship family series, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe stars an art style that invokes cuteness that anyone can appreciate. While its art style is not remarkable, it’s still a joy to look at. I particularly like the storybook style used for the cutscenes. The game also runs great with barely any glitches. Its music is also excellent, with many tunes that’ll get stuck in your head.
Of the many child-friendly platformers available on the Nintendo Switch, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is certainly one of the best. This is a well-controlling game that constantly stays fresh with great levels to explore. Combine that with great presentation and plenty of content, this is one worthwhile remake to pick up. The extra additions, such as Merry Magoland and the Magolor Epilogue, make this a great package, even if you have played the original Wii game. While not incredibly difficult, it does a great job of keeping you engaged. The game has some problems, like not having the option to retry a stage while in one, but they are hardly a deal breaker. This is a solid game that can be enjoyed by everyone. Let’s be honest: everyone loves Kirby!
Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe gets a 9/10.