Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe – Review
Follow Genre: Platformer, Party Game
Developer: HAL Laboratory, Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Switch
Tested on: Switch

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe – Review

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Good: A ton of additional content
Bad: Plays it a bit too safe
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Few of Nintendo’s core franchises cater as much to the public on the Switch as the Kirby series. Virtual console releases included, there are no less than eleven games available where the gluttonous pink fellow takes center stage, and that’s not counting his appearance in Super Smash Bros. That being said, the majority of the non-virtual console titles stray away from the classic Kirby gameplay that we’ve seen over the last few decades, with titles like Kirby Fighters 2 offering a Smash-like fighter, and the award-winning title Kirby and the Forgotten Land being the series’ first full 3D outing. Enter Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, a remake of the 2011 Wii game, which brings ‘traditional’ 2.5D platformer action to the Switch. Is this a port worth gobbling up or is a second portion too much?


Kirby games have never been heavy on story, and Return to Dream Land isn’t different in this regard. The game opens with a short cutscene that sees Kirby and his pals, including King Dedede and Meta Knight, having an all-around good time, until a spaceship crashes nearby. Said ship belongs to the mysterious Magolor, and he enlists our friends to recover parts of the spacecraft that were lost in the crash. It’s a simple premise that is perfect for the cheerful and laid-back atmosphere that is present throughout the entirety of the game, even if it isn’t the deepest tale.


The bright and colorful aesthetics of Kirby games lend themselves well to the Switch, where they can shine without pushing the hardware to its limits. There’s a decade-plus old Wii game running under the hood here, of course, but you wouldn’t say it based on the visuals, which have been polished and brought in line with modern releases. The game’s simple graphics benefit a lot more from the remaster treatment than something like Skyward Sword HD, putting Return to Dream Land more in line with Metroid Prime’s recent visual upgrades. The frame rate remains consistent throughout as well, even when four players are teaming up to take on the game in co-op.


It’s hard not to crack a smile when hearing the familiar sound effects of the Kirby series and here they sound crisper than ever. The music fares fantastically as well, with catchy tunes that sound cheerful and atmospheric. Apart from the gibberish that has been a hallmark of the series, there is no voice acting present here. Of course, this is one of those rare cases where we’ll let it slide because we can’t even begin to imagine Kirby talking in full sentences.


Central to Return to Dream Land is a rather short but sweet story campaign, but there’s more to the game than just the classic 2.5D platformer action we’ve come to expect from everyone’s favorite pink puffball. The story campaign is roughly seven hours long and if you’ve ever played a Kirby game before, you probably have a good idea of what to expect. You’ll step into the magenta shoes of our titular hero and make your way through eight worlds as you suck up enemies to copy their abilities and take on a selection of familiar bosses in battle. The aim is to retrieve the missing pieces so that Magalor can repair his spaceship. You can tackle the campaign solo, of course, but you don’t have to do so as the levels can be tackled by up to four players in co-op. That might seem redundant at first glance, as Return to Dream Land isn’t a very difficult game, but being able to team up with a younger gamer and carry them through the game makes for a fantastic bonding activity. Additionally, later stages can throw a curveball your way when it comes to collecting every single one of the 120 energy spheres hidden throughout the levels, and certain ones of these are definitely easier to grab if you have a buddy with you.

Where Return to Dream Land’s multiplayer really comes into its own, however, is in Merry Magoland. This mode offers up a selection of eleven minigames that, bundled together, feel like a party game. Presented as an amusement park of sorts, with each minigame acting as a “ride”, Mery Magoland’s offerings include eight mini-games seen previously, supplemented with three all-new ones. It’s a surprisingly varied package too, including a top-down shooter, a ninja star-throwing game, and a duel between Samurai Kirbys. With online leaderboards, 100 “missions” where you need to achieve specific goals in these minigames, and 86 masks for Kirby and his friends to unlock and wear, there is plenty to keep you occupied and entertained here. As if that wasn’t enough, once you beat the main campaign for the first time, you’ll unlock a slew of additional content, the main selling point of which is an all-new mini-campaign, titled Magolor Epilogue: The Interdimensional Traveller. This sixteen-stage campaign puts you in the shoes of Magolor himself. It’s significantly more challenging than the Kirby campaign, with the boss battles in particular being a highlight.

Other post-credits unlocks include the more challenging ‘Extra’ variant of the main campaign and The Arena, which adds a boss rush mode. That’s without even getting into the challenge levels and the content that is tied to the number of energy spheres you have collected. So while Return to Dream Land’s main campaign may have had you thinking this would be a fairly short Kirby title, in reality, the game is absolutely jam-packed with content. We’re not familiar with the original Wii release, so we can’t say how much of what’s present here is new but the ‘Deluxe’ moniker in the title certainly feels appropriate.

From a technical perspective, Return to Dream Land nails things as well. Controlling Kirby feels intuitive and responsive. Despite the fact that the control scheme is more elaborate than that of Super Mario, things remain accessible and straightforward. There is a noticeable difficulty curve, but things never get frustrating. Granted, the Kirby games are geared towards a family audience, but the same can be said about many licensed platformers and the difference between those and Return to Dream Land is night and day. The levels are designed in fun and inventive ways, and although the specific power Kirby copies doesn’t matter all that much early on, the latter half of the game requires you to be more creative to overcome specific obstacles. Want to make your way across fire? Water Kirby is the way to go! Three new powers, Sand, Mecha, and Festival, were added to the game, and these fit in surprisingly seamlessly to the point that you wouldn’t know they weren’t in the original Wii game if you weren’t told. There are also ‘super’ versions of specific powers present at key points in the game, and these are limited in how many times you can use them but they feel very satisfying to use.

If there’s one thing we can fault Return to Dream Land for, it would be that things are played a bit too safe. We understand that this is an outright remaster of a Wii game first and foremost, but even the new content feels like it could have offered something innovative rather than more of the same. That’s a minor gripe all things considered because where last year’s Kirby and the Forgotten Land literally took the game to a whole new dimension, Return to Dream Land is the equivalent of comfort food. Kirby veterans know what they are getting here, and the sheer amount of content warrants not only the €59.99 asking price, but also returning to Dream Land if you visited it back in the Wii days.


It’s hard to believe that Return to Dream Land is over a decade old at this point, mostly because this updated version doesn’t feel the slightest bit out of place as a 2022 release. The accessible control scheme, updated visuals, and tons of additional content all come together to form something that will delight those that are experiencing everything for the first time and returning veterans alike. The only real ‘downside’ is perhaps that the game plays it a bit too safe in terms of both innovation and difficulty level. That does mean that you’ll be getting exactly what you’d expect from a 2.5D Kirby platformer, so if that’s what you’re in the mood for, you can’t go wrong with Return to Dream Land.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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