Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Kirby's Return to Dream Land

Review: Kirby's Return to Dream Land

10:00 AM on 10.23.2011 // Jim Sterling

Kirby was in line for a Wii game years before we finally saw Kirby's Epic Yarn, a platformer that turned Nintendo's adorable pink puffball into colored string and changed the series' formula considerably. Interestingly, Kirby's Epic Yarn was not the game Nintendo has promised for all those years -- it was originally an all-new concept that Kirby had been retroactively inserted into.

Here we are, a year on from Kirby's Epic Yarn, and we finally have the game everybody was actually waiting for -- Kirby's Return to Dream Land. The pink puffball is back and ready to prove that good things come to those who wait.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Wii)
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: October 24, 2011
MSRP: $49.99

Kirby's Return to Dream Land is a fitting name for a game that takes our blushing cream puff back to the formula that made him famous. He's no longer made of yarn, he's not been split into ten pieces, and he's not rolling around on magical rainbows -- the experimental directions his last few adventures have dabbled in have been replaced with the traditional gameplay that Kirby fans grew up with.

Kirby, Meta Knight, Waddle Dee, and King Dedede unite to help a lost alien rebuild his spaceship for no other reason than charming hospitality. Visiting a variety of levels scattered around the Planet Pop Star, each with their own selection of stages and bosses, Kirby is once again doing what he does best -- eating enemies and swallowing them to gain super powers in a significant collection of ambrosial platforming escapades.

A vast number of classic Copy Abilities are back, including the Sword, Flame, and Rock powers. A few new skills have been thrown in to keep things fresh, such as the self-explanatory Whip and the incredibly useful Leaf that allows Kirby to summon gusts of shredding greenery. As always, Kirby gets a cute redesign with every power he attains as well as a range of contextual attacks dependent on whether he's jumping, running, standing, or aiming in a specific direction. In addition, Sleep Kirby is back -- a thoroughly useless ability that is nonetheless too cute not to use.

At various points in the game, Kirby will be able to access Super Abilities by swallowing glowing enemies. These powers are audacious in their strength, allowing Kirby to summon gigantic swords, controllable energy beams, or roaring flame dragons. These powers can not only rid entire screens of enemies but also break down otherwise indestructible obstacles, clearing the way to special sub-stages that contain increasingly tricky platform challenges and evil "Sphere Doomer" bosses.

Kirby's standard ability to inhale objects has been given a boost as well, with a shake of the Wii remote creating a powerful vacuum that sucks in large enemies or impenetrable brick walls. While mostly optional, there are areas where Kirby's suckage will be crucial, especially in those crafty optional stages.

For those with extra remotes, other players can drop in or out at any time, stepping into the shoes of Waddle Dee, Dedede, Meta Knight, or a different colored Kirby. Interestingly, the co-op harks back to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, with extra players filling more of a "Tails" role than becoming truly independent characters. If secondary players die or fall out of the camera's range, they'll respawn next to the main pink protagonist, as lives and progress are only at risk if the first player dies. Non-Kirby player characters don't possess their own unique attacks either, taking their cues from established Kirby Copy Abilities (Waddle Dee uses Spear, Dedede uses Hammer, and Meta Knight uses Sword).

Co-op is fun but entirely optional. There are no forced and convoluted co-op puzzles, instead inviting the kind of couch-based multiplayer that we had in the good old days. Just having friends jump into a game at any time is so much more refreshing than watching two characters help each other open doors in games that are desperate to justify their co-op status.

In fact, refreshing is a great word to use for Kirby's Return to Dream Land in its entirety. After a year of complex and brooding games, it's a breath to fresh air to have Kirby on a console again, sticking to the colorful and adorable basics of good, old-fashioned platforming fun. Kirby's more unique adventures have been great, but it's ironically stimulating to have Kirby going back to a conventional title, especially in an industry so pressured to innovate. Kirby doesn't need to innovate, he just needs to be fun; Return to Dream Land brings the fun in spades.

As ever, much of the challenge in Return to Dream Land is volitional. Finding hidden items to unlock sub-games and other bonuses can provide considerably more demanding gameplay, but the main stages can be conquered by players of almost any skill level. That said, those who want to see harder platforming action ought to play through to the end, because a few of the latter stages will give such gamers what they're looking for. While the game never ramps up the difficulty to hardcore degrees, these levels put up just enough resistance to satisfy all but the most desensitized of masochists.

Graphically, Hal Laboratories deftly ignores the technical limitations of the Wii and delivers a game that looks damn beautiful, despite the standard definition. Character animations bubble with life, and environments are bright and gladdening. If there are any glitches to be found, I couldn't see a single one. As with nearly all Kirby games, there's a great soundtrack on offer, although the selection of tunes aren't quite so memorable as in other titles.

Come to think of it, the soundtrack is the only real complaint I can muster about this game. It can take a solid six hours to beat the first time around and packs plenty of extra content to keep it bolstered. The levels are superbly constructed, and the boss fights make for engrossing confrontations. Outside of the music, there's not a single thing about Hal's latest game that I could think of changing for the better.

With its impeccable balance of difficulty, satisfyingly simple level design, and insurmountable overload of squishy charm, Return to Dream Land provides a platform experience that comes as close to perfect as one can get. As so many games strive to be considered art or emulate blockbuster movies, it's becoming increasingly rare to find a videogame that sees itself simply as a videogame and devotes itself entirely to giving gamers the kind of authentic, natural fun that many of us grew up enjoying.

Although polished to modern standards, Kirby's Return to Dream Land carries the spirit of the 16-bit era in its heart, bringing one back to a time when games could be bright and happy without feeling the need to serve two scoops of cynicism at the same time. This is the kind of game you could once find in abundance on the SNES and Sega Genesis, now refined to a distilled and ultimately superior form. Videogames simply do not get any more pure than Kirby's Return to Dream Land.



Kirby's Return to Dream Land - Reviewed by Jim Sterling
Editor's Choice Award - Is it legal to marry a videogame? Because I want to be with this game every day for the rest of my life. It completes me. It is my soul mate.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Kirby's Return to Dream Land

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Cittadini di Twitter

Cblogs of 11/29/15 + Scott Pilgrim You Nefarious Swine!

Sexism in video games culture: social science says it’s real

How YOU can save DOAX3 (with diagrams)

Recap: Metal Gear Solid 2

Backward Compatibility Is More Important Than Ever (Maybe)

My beef with Sony

It's beginning to look a lot like censorship.

Solar Pony Django's Review on: Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival

Indivisible exposes why forced diversity and its proponents keep failing

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
I was happy to have never spoiled myself the final boss of Splatoon's campaign. That was one of the best boss fights ever and I absolutely love the credits track. So relaxing. [youtube][/youtube]
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Today's kids will never know the struggle of putting an encyclopedia on top of an NES Max to auto-buy 99 potions before heading into Terra Cavern
CblogRecaps avatarCblogRecaps
Sometimes, on more dreary days, I make a smiley face with sliced-pickle eyes and bacon grin in my lunch-burger. It fills me up all the same, but I feel a warm sense of accomplishment, achievement and satisfaction on top of it.
Shinta avatarShinta
[youtube][/youtube] Isn't this the greatest thing ever?
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Well, my Bloggers Wanted post is up, but it timetraveled back to Sunday behind Zetta's blog or will only post two days from now otherwise. Mrgrgr.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Yeah I still can't take the new Batman and Superman seriously, Batman just looks so stupid with his cowl lol.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
This near final build of Nuclear Throne is going to bring back my eye twitch.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
When I was a lad, I loved this game something fierce. [img][/img] Anyone else ever play the tie in Small Soldiers games? Maybe it's nostalgia, but I remember them being not too bad.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Finally got my surface pro 3. Holy shit I love this little guy. And Windows 10 is better than I thought.
Putting more effort into iOS game review than African American history book report. This is not what Dr. King died for. Or maybe he did, I wouldn't know because I'm not doing the book report. Wha-hey!!
Lawman avatarLawman
More info and footage on that cancelled first-person THQ Avengers game is shown. The heartache's still real.
Archelon avatarArchelon
DailyFloze avatarDailyFloze
So just dropping in, just finished my first hands on with the new Bloodborne DLC..... in one word...Potatoes!!? #theoldhunters #dropitlikeitsyarnham #aintnothinglikeafromsoftwarething
EdgyDude avatarEdgyDude
Indivisible's campaign just made it to $1.300.000! if you can back it please consider doing it.
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
Slow day at work. [IMG][/IMG]
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
22/31 missions completed on Prototype, fun game with a ton of destruction but crashes on my desktop PC and barely runs on my dad's laptop. And it's distracting me from playing more Fallout 4. But hey, I can slice+disguise as tank commanders and that's fun
Virtua Kazama avatarVirtua Kazama
Virtua Fighter month begins tomorrow! First blog will be coming sometime this week (mostly Wednesday).
voex avatarvoex
*Sigh* time to figure out how much a Fallout 4 capable PC upgrade is gonna cost me...
ooktar avatarooktar
Ordered this on Thanksgiving and surprisingly got here today. The case is amazing and Now I got all the Persona Cards. [img][/img] [img][/
Jiraya avatarJiraya
You probably already saw this - but it is gold - Fallout 4 One Punch Man Mod [youtube][/youtube]
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -