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
  @JimSterling

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.



THE VERDICT

10

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 *.disqus.com 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!


Summer Wars: The Video Gameā€¦.I mean Digimon: Cyber Sleuth

Gaming's Beautiful People #4: Valentine's Day Special OR Love Multi-Kills

Exist Archive: The Other Side Of The Sky Import Review

Stupid Teens Do Stupid Things: An Oxenfree Critique

A blog test. Brought to you by Buckner & Garcia

Cblogs of 2/11/16, 2/12/16 + Firethoughts

PS+ Games of the Month January 2016 - Feat. GajKnight and SolarPonyDjango

Your Opinions On Racing Games Are Stupid

The Nerds Have Won

Emily Wants To Play has come to mobile (and I wish it would go away again)

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
I can't wait to mute Niero. #NoRules #ThePurge
Joe Parlock avatarJoe Parlock
I spent all last night playing Day of Defeat: Source. If only Valve gave it even half the attention it did to TF2 or CS:S...
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Nearing Platinum status.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
THIS IS THE BEST EMAIL I'VE EVER GOTTEN HOLY SHIT
Parismio avatarParismio
Sheesh i played metal gear rising before and Platinum ruined the franchise.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Toonami is running a poll right now at [url]www.toonami.com/poll[/url] where one of the questions is which show you'd want un-cancelled. Oh, Teen Titans is included? That's curious...
SlyTAdvantage avatarSlyTAdvantage
"The Ravagers dropped the giant insects and waited for them to evolve ... it's clear. This is their plan from the start" -EDF 4.1 scientist So dragons are evolved forms of ants, spiders and/or wasps ....... what?
Ckarasu avatarCkarasu
Every time I hear "I don't understand why people like _____ game", I get annoyed. Of course you understand, if you've listened to what those people were saying. You just don't agree, and that's A-OK. I HATE Twilight, but I understand why people like it.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Just tried playing the first Bayonetta game... it was really bad. Honestly I don't understand why Platinum games are so well regarded. None of them are really worthwhile.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
The first person I block is the person who talks shit about Platinum
Torchman avatarTorchman
Even though your waifus are shit
Darth Wachen avatarDarth Wachen
Finally, a blog that I can call my own, I feel accomplished somehow.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Gonna be honest; this really made my day.
Rico the Penguin avatarRico the Penguin
I doubt I'll use it much but I'm totally fine with a block/ignore feature. Everyone has a right to speak, but I don't think anyone has a right to be heard. If this place played country music I'd want a mute button, basically :p.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Mall haul today (plus I split a BEAUTIFUL Star Wars Slave I with my brother). Any thoughts on Haze? Wanted to play it back when it came out and I had no PS3. For a dollar you can't go wrong!
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
I'm not gonna lie, I don't feel "good" about the upcoming "ignore" feature. Maybe it's just me, but I don't like the idea that people can mute other people because they don't agree with them. Spammers and trolls, sure, but not regular community members.
Gundy avatarGundy
Oh man. Those Next Gen transformations in Megadimension Neptunia are legit as fuck!
TysonOfTime avatarTysonOfTime
The first thing I do when I see clickbait is click on it and complain about clickbait.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Wow, uh, after having a lovely time with Kirby Air Ride, I decided to try playing some melee, for old times sake... I pretty much disliked my whole time with it. More details in a comment if I get around to it.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Help me gather games for a new blog series - "Worst Sequels Ever"
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

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 -