Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review | Nintendo’s pink round glutton is back on the Nintendo Switch! While it’s not an entirely new adventure, but rather a remaster from a 2011 Switch title, it is universally praised as one of his better escapades. I have no prior experience with the title, so the new bells and whistles will mostly be lost on me, it’s the perfect excuse to check out a classic title that I sadly missed out on back in the day.
There’s also something very magical about Kirby games that make me feel more optimistic, even after a few recent personal setbacks and I’ll never pass on the opportunity to get some Nintendorphines coursing through my veins.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Nintendo Switch | Review code provided by Nintendo, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Visually impressive | As mentioned in the intro, I never got to play the Wii version of the game and can’t compare directly, but from what I’ve seen in videos, the graphics are very comparable. Now that may sound like a negative, the art direction was brilliant to begin with, and it aged like fine wine. This is the kind of colourful eye candy that will remain impressive to look at no matter how many years we’re down the line. The biggest upgrade seems to have happened in the backgrounds, if you check the sandy fountains in the desert level for example, the Switch remaster does a much better job in getting the details right. Expect cheery, colourful and downright joyous visuals throughout!
- Sounds like happiness | Kirby’s main themes are decades old by now, and they still sound every bit as good. While there is new music added, it can’t be denied that it’s the classic ditties that steal the show. I’ll never tire of the victory music after you beat a level, with the accompanied dance of course.
- Super Abilities | At certain moments in the game, you’ll unlock shiny boosted versions of regular abilities, and they bring with them screen-filling effects and powerful attacks. It’s an amazing feeling when you get to plow through the level with them, and you feel even more powerful than before.
- New content | I had to look up exactly what was new, and while there are some tiny changes like new masks to wear, it’s the new epilogue where you play as Magalor himself that offers the most substantial new content. It’s a fun side adventure that takes about 1h30 to beat, but when all the little bonuses are taken into account, like two brand-new abilities for instance, this short game still feels like it has plenty to offer.
- Co-op fun | You can play the main story with up to 4 players on the same screen (local co-op) and it’s a blast! I played some levels with my kids, and they had a great time helping me out. There are even some special team abilities you can use for extra visual splendor. Though they did seem to prefer the minigames which you can all play together as well.
- Minigames | At any point, you can visit Magalor’s park and play one of the 10 minigames. These range from well-known romps you may remember from older Kirby games, like the quick reaction samurai game or swallowing eggs while avoiding bombs, but the new blaster and tile destroying games have the most longevity. The latter is simple in concept: eliminate rows or columns of blocks, so your opponents fall down, while you try to survive as long as possible. Or what about a quick thinking exercise in Magalor’s library and try to be the first to find the correct book. It’s surprisingly fun, even for longer play sessions.
- Lots of things to collect | There’s always something new to collect that keeps you motivated. Throughout the levels, you can pick up stars and 99 of them will grant you a new 1UP, but it’s the 120 hidden energy orbs that will get the completionist in you hungry to find them all. You’ll unlock new challenge rooms for finding more of them, and it feels properly rewarding, even though 90% of them will be collected if you simply pay attention to the surroundings and switch to the correct power in time. Furthermore, you can also unlock up to 86 masks for your characters to wear, with most of them being locked behind collecting enough stamps by playing the minigames and the accompanying optional challenges.
- Maybe too easy | I’m a (pink) sucker for easy modes in games, and when you give me the option, I’ll usually take the easy way out. Kirby is already an easy game that doesn’t offer a lot of challenge (it doesn’t have to) but with Magalor’s Help enabled, you’ll even get rescued by your extraterrestrial friend if you jump off a ledge or get low on life. I don’t mind these features at all, especially when playing with younger kids, but I can see how a lot of veteran players may yawn when there is almost no real risk of every losing a single life. Luckily, you can opt to turn this off, but no matter your settings, this isn’t exactly a title that will every put your skills to the test.
- Maybe too hard | Wait, aren’t you contradicting your previous statement? Yes, but this only applies to the post-game, which is why I don’t see it as a negative. People who intend to go for 100% will have to beat the game twice, once again in Extra mode and collect everything a second time. Though it is nice that bosses get a visual upgrade and that the extra mode brings along plenty of little touches that are different. But getting the 100% nearly broke me and I gave up because some of the asks, like beating all the bosses in a row or certain minigame challenges seemed impossible for me. Basically, the difficulty slider goes from too easy to too hard, with nothing in between.
What we Disliked
- Online | You can compare your scores to online friends, but sadly it requires having an online subscription for this simple element. And while you can play the main adventure or the minigames with up to 4 local co-op players, there is no option to challenge your online friends to a trip around Magalor’s park.
How long to beat the story | It took me around 9 hours to see the credits roll (and collecting a lot of stuff on the way)
How long to complete the game 100% | ~20 hours, depending on how good you are in the minigames and extra mode
You’ll love this game if you like these | Kirby and the forgotten land, Yoshi’s Crafted World
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe really gets your Nintendorphines flowing! It’s the feel-good game that puffs you up when you are down. And if you bring three extra spoons, you can even give your friends a mouthful of gaming bliss as well.
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.