It is actual funny how, in a world beset with remasters and remakes, one would find the likes of Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe. For one, the game is a remastered version of the 2011 Wii title, which was based on the 1992 Game Boy and Nintendo 3DS title, Kirby’s Dream Land (or Hoshi no Kirby)! While marketed as an outright remake, it should be noted how the game does, essentially, play like a port and nothing more.
Players and fans familiar with the beloved pink puffball will already know all they need to in terms of what this ‘remaster’ is about. For the unfamiliar, Kirby and all of his friends must embark on a quest to help a stranded alien fix his spaceship. Strange as this notion may seem, it is not outside the realm of plausibility when it comes to Kirby, and neither is its lack of a deeper premise – the aforementioned is literally the long and short of the narrative. Whether this result is remnant of the Wii era, or merely an outcome of needing a simple plot for a simple game, is up for interpretation.
In many ways, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is as faithful of a “remake” as they come. It features the exact same gameplay and story as the original, with improved graphics, better performance (it now runs at a smooth 60 frames per second when docked), and a plethora of new animations to keep things fresh and exciting. Even the music has been reworked and tuned for improved stereo output and modern-day drivers.
In terms of gameplay, players will be happy to learn how this Kirby title is still decidedly traditional in its platforming. Players return to Planet Popstar once again, only this time Kirby has learned how to copy enemy powers, use super abilities, and even join up to four [real, human] friends for some cooperative fun. Popstar even has a bunch of new mini games specifically catered towards multiplayer gameplay, because the main narrative clearly does not cut it in terms longevity.
Kirby can inhale and suck up a bunch of enemies in order to gain their abilities, each of which features its own moveset and advantages, while some moves are even required to solve puzzles or access secret areas. Super abilities, on the other hand, are powerful attacks able to clear large portions of the screen or interact with the environment in unpredictable ways. Using Ultra Sword, for instance, will slice through most giant blocks and enemies in one fell swoop, while Flare Beam draws lines of electricity that can be used to link switches.
Multiplayer is just as easy and accessible, with up to three friends being allowed to drop in or out at any time during a gameplay session. While mostly cooperative (think any LEGO video game), Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe features mini games where players can compete to collect enough resources or get to certain points. It really does get the blood pumping. Moreover, multiplayer adds a few additional abilities whereby players can use it in tandem with one-another to create new “Team Attacks” or “Team Throws”. The game may not have much going for it in terms of narrative, but it most certainly does have content.
A Kirby game without worlds to explore would not be a true Kirby title. As such, players can expect to explore seven fully realised worlds, each with their own themes and challenges, in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe. While creative and well-designed, the worlds do have an aura of old timey level design hovering over them. Things just never feel “modern” enough for the game to stay exciting. With that said, every level (or world) features tons of hidden areas, collectibles, and even mini bosses who gradually ramp the challenge up to the extremes for any well-to-do adventurers. Puzzles, on the other hand, never become a challenge. By the fifth hour or so, they feel much more like time wasters than exciting segments meant to wrack the brain.
Once the main story (and all of its puzzles) are beaten, players will unlock a whole new campaign called Meta Knightmare Returns. In this campaign players take on the role of Meta Knight, who features his own abilities and unique move-set that truly changes the way the game is played. Flying is unlimited and his sword his massively overpowered, just to name two standout abilities, but players can also block attacks using Meta Knight’s cape, and waste a perfectly sexy super meter on utterly overkill abilities. In reality, however, Meta Knight Returns is really just a much more challenging version of the campaign in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe. Think New Game +. Enemies are more challenging (and just… more), while obstacles pop up more often, and bosses have way too much health to be considered anything less than sponges. Players who partake in this campaign will also be ranked amongst their friends based on performance and speed. Needless to say, it is a nice addition to an otherwise serviceable title.
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe Park, which is accessible from the main menu, is another new game mode offering various minigames and extras to enjoy. Some of the minigames are based on Kirby’s abilities or super abilities, such as Sword Challenge or Flare Beam Rally. Others are based on classic Kirby games or spin-offs, such as Kirby’s Air Ride or Kirby Fighters. The theme park also has a museum where players can view artwork, listen to music, watch movies, or read trivia about the game. In a way, it is a memorialisation of the game’s long history and many iterations.
While the game really is nothing more than a modern port, there are more than enough humble additions to call the game new and unique. It is just a shame, then, how it feels dated! Newcomers will find a lot of content to like, while Kirby fans will relive one of the pink puffball’s more beloved adventures in Popstar. Meta Knight is an excellent addition, but is ultimately brought down by the same old timey vibes the game’s many worlds give off — it is just not fun to traverse the same worlds for a second time, no matter how much more challenging they may be.
Ultimately, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe plays it very safe. It is a solid ‘port’ of a good Wii game, and is therefore susceptible to the same issues relating to the original title’s gameplay and structure; with very little added to feel exciting or new. Innovation has seemingly gone out the window, and surprise is nowhere to be seen; leaving faithful Kirby fans in the dark just as much as newcomers to the franchise. With that said, it remains a solid game. It performs well on the likes of the Nintendo Switch, and feels polished and refined enough not to complain about anything other than its age. The game is a serviceable nod to the original Wii version, and should complement the average Kirby fan’s library well enough.
|Masterful port of a classic Wii title||Everything about the world design feels old|
|Meta Knight Returns is a fun twist on NG+||Plays it too safe|
|It has multiplayer now|
Title reviewed on Nintendo Switch with code supplied by Nintendo.
Junior Editor at Vamers. From Superman to Ironman; Bill Rizer to Sam Fisher and everything in-between, Edward loves it all. He is a Bachelor of Arts student and English Major specialising in Language and Literature. He is an avid writer and casual social networker with a flare for all things tech related.