Review: Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe (Switch)

The definitive version of an already excellent game!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 03/07/2023 18:39 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Delightful HD visuals that take the original's and make them even better; lots of replay value thanks to numerous sub-games, modes, and even a full epilogue quest; soundtrack is cheery and bright, complimenting the on-screen action well; multiplayer is seamlessly integrated
Poison Mushroom for...
Relative lack of challenge might put off some players

I’ll be honest: when Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe got announced back in September of last year, I wasn’t all that excited. The original Wii version of the game was definitely fun, but it launched less than a year after the release of Donkey Kong Country Returns, which is one of my favorite games ever made. Thus. my memories of playing Wii during that time are dominated far more by DK than Kirby. In the 12 years that have passed since Return to Dream Land launched and now, I can say that I remember enjoying the game but not too much about the specifics as to why. After having spent many hours absorbed in Deluxe, however, I can say that this particular iteration of the game has left a much stronger impression on meā€”this is definitely one of the funnest Kirby adventures I’ve ever played, right up there with the likes of Kirby Super Star and Kirby: Planet Robobot.

Deluxe revolves around the character Magalor whose starship the Lor Starcutter has crash-landed on Planet Popstar. Kirby and his usual pals/frenemies must work together to help retrieve the missing pieces of the ship and get Magalor back home. Unlike Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Deluxe is a 2D game and can also support up to four players simultaneously. The shift to 2D might feel jarring for those whose first Kirby experience was Forgotten Land, but the DNA of the 2D Kirby titles is baked into that game. Anyone coming into Deluxe with fresh eyes is going to feel right at home, including people who are playing a platformer for the first time. As is the case with virtually every Kirby release, this game is meant to be truly all-ages. Some might derisively say Kirby games are “too easy,” but it’s a lazy criticism. Kirby games are meant to be fun and approachable, and anyone hankering for an extra layer of challenge can scour each stage for hidden energy spheres.

The foundation of Deluxe is built on top of Return to Dream Land, and the studs are as sturdy as it gets. The HD sheen that’s been applied to the already intricate, entrancing Wii visuals make Deluxe really pop. I couldn’t fully appreciate how beautiful this game is until I fired it up on my Switch and played it myself. Absent from the original is a cel-shading style that’s been applied to Kirby, his buddies, and enemies. It adds greater substance to the characters that helps them to stand out from the background and keep gameplay clear and easy to follow. Along with the strong aesthetic, the controls in Deluxe are also top notch. Kirby floats and inhales with ease, and busting through packs of baddies has just the right amount of weight to it. Super Abilities, meanwhile, are essentially screen-clearing attacks that let Kirby mow down every enemy in sight. Granted, they only appear every so often, but the more restrained use of Super Abilities mean that when they do become available, those segments of gameplay are exciting and memorable. Try rolling through giant bowling pin-shaped foes as a snow-covered Kirby ball and see for yourself how thrilling these sections can be.

New to Deluxe are a handful of features and changes that help make this the definitive version of Return to Dream Land. In the original game, some of the returning Copy Abilities were reworked, while several new ones were introduced (Leaf, Whip, Water, and Spear). For Deluxe, there are two new Copy Abilities for fans to learn on top of those: Mecha and Sand. Mecha is arguably the more interesting of the two, granting Kirby a jetpack, laser beams, shoulder-mounted rocket blasters, and more. Neither is essential to the gameplay, but they’re fun additions that give Kirby one of his largest yet suites of available power-ups. As is typical in a Kirby adventure, a big part of the fun is experimenting with all of the different Copy Abilities and finding the ones that suit your playstyle. I’m partial to Hammer, Ninja, and Sword, myself, but Mecha is very quickly growing on me.

Four-player co-op returns and is incredibly easy to implement. Friends can hop in and out at will, making it a breeze to bring in helpers and, when they’re done playing, move on solo. Seamless multiplayer integration in games like this is always welcome, as it allows a player to share in the fun instantly without having to back out and restart in order to continue with the adventure. There are a number of fun minigames that were included in the original Return to Dream Land that have been carried over to Deluxe. Samurai Kirby is likely at or near the top of most people’s favorite asides from Return to Dream Land, but Deluxe has taken the concept and expanded upon it with the new Samurai Kirby 100, which see players competing online via leaderboards to see who can be the best. These sub-games are all collected into a party game-like mode dubbed Merry Magoland. This mode is solid fun for multiple parties and helps to add some cohesion to all of the minigames.

Beyond Merry Magoland, another notable addition in Deluxe is the special Magalor Epilogue: The Interdimensional Traveler. Here, Magolar takes center stage and uses his own unique set of abilities and attacks to venture through four missions (comprised of four stages apiece and a boss battle). While nowhere near as long as the main campaign, Magalor Epilogue is a hefty chunk of content that will take the average player a couple of hours to beat. It’s also genuinely fun, and will definitely be intriguing to those who want a bit more about the enigmatic Magalor. Combined with a couple of other unlockable modes earned after beating the main game, as well as the aforementioned Merry Magoland, and Deluxe is going to keep players coming back to it for a long time.

While I might have gone into Deluxe a virtual blank slate, it left me shocked at what a fun game it is. The stages feature clever (albeit relatively easy) challenges and set pieces that make each one a delight to explore. With the ability to pop in and out friends at will, it’s also simplicity itself to turn Deluxe into a proper multiplayer romp. If minigames are more your style, Merry Magoland takes the already solid selection from Return to Dream Land and spruces it up with new additions and a cohesive party experience. Rounded out with Magalor’s Epilogue and a bunch of other post-game unlockables, Deluxe lives up to its name and then some. This is a must for Kirby diehards and platformer fans in general.

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