Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe takes the already beloved 2011 Wii title and expands upon it in a variety of interesting, meaningful, and undeniably effective ways. Not only have the visuals been given a fresh coat of paint, with the game looking downright dazzling on Nintendo Switch (particularly on OLED), it’s also been inflated with a smattering of new activities as well.
Like other entries in the Kirby franchise, Return to Dream Land Deluxe places great emphasis on approachability. So much so, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe ends up feeling like one of the most approachable Kirby games to date. In fact, I’d go so far as to say Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe serves as one of the best offerings among casual titles in 2023 as it can be enjoyed easily both by younger gamers and anyone who’s simply looking for a stress-free, laid-back experience.
Kick back with Kirby and friends
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe features a cute, colorful story that opens with the mysterious Magalor experiencing a catastrophic crash that renders his ship, the Lor Starcutter, temporarily grounded on Planet Popstar. Fortunately for Magalor, Kirby and friends are eager to help track down all of the ship parts that have gone missing, along with lost Energy Spheres.
In Return to Dream Land Deluxe, players are tasked with guiding Kirby (and Kirby’s friends, with the game supporting 4-player co-op throughout) through an assortment of colorful areas like Cookie Country and Raisin Ruins. Each area has multiple stages with the main objective in each being to search for and collect Energy Spheres.
With these, players will be able to unlock broken doors within Magalor’s ship. Behind these broken doors, you'll find things like subgame activities like Magalor’s Tome Trackers that can be played solo or with friends just like the game’s campaign. Unlike some of the other uses for Energy Spheres, unlocking subgames can feel a little redundant here as most are already available to players in Merry Magoland, which I’ll dive deeper into a bit later on.
Energy Spheres can also unlock new copy ability test areas for Kirby as well as optional challenge stages that’ll put your skills to the ultimate test using abilities like Sword or Sand. In addition, each area has its own unique boss battle at the end which rewards players with a key piece of Magalor’s ship.
For example, you can get the oars back for the Lor Starcutter by defeating Whispy Woods at the end of the game’s first area, Cookie Country. As previously mentioned, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is incredibly approachable for gamers of all ages, particularly younger gamers. One of the ways it accomplishes this is with features like assists provided by the optional Helper Magalor who does things like pick Kirby back up if he falls over a ledge, thereby making platforming sections even easier.
When playing co-op multiplayer, players can stack their characters on top of each other which allows for teammates to be carried from one point to the next, and even tap into special copy ability moves and opportunities based on how characters are stacked up when riding Piggyback. Gameplay wise, Return to Dream Land Deluxe does a lot as well in terms of offering players opportunities to pick up extra lives and healing items throughout.
Kirby’s copy abilities can also feel a bit overpowered in that they leave plenty of room to button mash your way to victory. Despite how simple copy abilities make everything though, I loved how varied each one feels, especially the two abilities new to Return to Dream Land Deluxe, Mecha Kirby and Sand Kirby.
Basic copy abilities aside, the game features five Super Abilities including Ultra Sword, Monster Flame, Flare Beam, Snow Bowl, and Grand Hammer. Using something like Ultra Sword, Kirby is able to take one big swing and pulverize multiple enemies and obstacles, with adorable effects attached like enemies flying forward and smacking the screen.
In the surprisingly rare event you do fail at something there isn’t too much backtracking required with the game’s stages, and boss battles are fairly quick to complete so restarting them isn’t that big of a deal either. Once you complete the main campaign, you’re rewarded with the opportunity to explore the new Magalor Epilogue. Here, players will get to play as Magalor and work to help him restore his magical powers.
Magalor doesn’t control as easily or smoothly as Kirby, with the Epilogue giving good reason for this backstory wise. Regardless of being understandable, it can be a bit frustrating to play as Magalor in terms of platforming, especially at the start of the Epilogue. However, there’s enough reward and plenty of charm with Magalor to make the Epilogue feel worthwhile. It also helps pad the game’s short-ish main campaign in a similar manner to the newly added Merry Magoland.
Welcome to Merry Magoland
Merry Magoland is new to Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe and acts as an amusement park hub full of subgames that can be enjoyed either solo or with friends (with the exception of Samurai Kirby which is solo only). As you play subgames like Kirby on the Draw or Egg Catcher, and as you work your way through the main campaign, you’ll collect stamp tickets to redeem for souvenirs. Namely, dress-up masks.
Dress-up masks can not only be worn in Merry Magoland, but also by Kirby and friends in the game’s main campaign. Removing these masks is wonderfully simple, with pressing down on the right thumbstick promptly slipping the mask on or off. You can also change or remove masks by speaking with Souvenir Shop Waddle Dee.
As you defeat bosses in the main campaign like Whispy Woods, you’ll unlock their presence in Merry Magoland which encourages you to keep returning to see what’s new. You’ll also expand the decor of Merry Magoland as you complete missions for subgames (such as catching 10 Eggs on Level 1 of Egg Catcher) with the addition of things like statues.
You can visit Merry Magoland at any time during your adventures with Kirby either from the main menu, or by pressing X in areas outside of the game's playable stages. As previously mentioned, by collecting Energy Spheres you’ll unlock subgames in Magalor’s ship, with these being the same subgames present within Merry Magoland.
For example, collecting 10 Energy Spheres unlocks Magalor’s Tome Trackers in Magalor’s ship, but this subgame is also present pretty much from the get-go to anyone who visits Merry Magoland. Elements of redundancy aside, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe makes it easy for anyone looking to partake in subgame activities to access them. Subgames also feature three difficulty levels ranging from extremely forgiving easy settings to harder settings ideal for those hungry for a real challenge.
Subgame highlights for me included the carnival shooter Kirby on the Draw, timing-based Egg Catcher, bumper cars-style Smash Ride, and strategic Checkerboard Chase.
Some call it magic
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is nothing short of a delight. It takes everything that made the original 2011 Wii title a fantastic, must-play experience and adds to it exponentially. The improved graphics can even rival those seen in Kirby and the Forgotten Land at times, and gameplay is both smooth and highly approachable.
Not to mention, there’s tons of bonus activities to help keep you busy both in terms of subgames in Merry Magoland subgames and the new story content via the Magalor Epilogue. If you’re looking for a game for your kids to play, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is without a doubt one of the best offerings in 2023 with approachability found in every aspect from gameplay, to its whimsical core themes, to the fact that co-op multiplayer is offered pretty much throughout.
Kirby has really been on a roll lately, and it seems like he isn't likely to stop anytime soon. If Return to Dream Land Deluxe does anything, it shows us that the era of Kirby is firmly upon us, and it leaves me eager to see what else Nintendo and HAL Labaratory has planned for everyone’s favorite pink puffball in the future.
This review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy of Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe provided by the publisher. Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe is set to release on February 24 for Nintendo Switch.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe
- Approachable gameplay
- Great for gamers of all ages & skill sets
- Multiplayer offered throughout campaign & side activities
- Updated graphics that look stunning on Switch OLED
- Fun new content like Merry Magoland & Magalor Epilogue
- Expansive variety of copy abilities for Kirby + 2 new abilities
- Simple, heartfelt, easy-to-follow story
- No real challenge outside of some Merry Magoland subgames
- Redundancy with subgames in Magalor's ship & Merry Magoland
Morgan Shaver posted a new article, Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe review: Magical merriment