At first glance, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a simple remaster of a Wii game. While there is definitely room to question if a game that originally released in 2011 warrants a full $60 pricetag, Kirby fans are sure to get a ton of enjoyment here. That is the case about any time a game comes out in this series, but following the brilliant jump to 3D last year, a return to Dream Land is not the prime Kirby experience you should look for on Nintendo Switch.
Been there, done that
The story in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is essentially the same as it was on the Wii, as you would expect with a remaster. Like every other game in the series, getting through the first significant portion is super easy. I didn’t have my first death until world six and ended the game with over 50 extra lives. At this point, this should always be expected with a Kirby game, but I started avoiding additional lives because it felt like a waste of time — more proof that a lives counter is pretty pointless in platformers these days.
One of the few adjustments made in the story is the addition of two brand new copy abilities, Mecha and Sand. Sand is pretty on par for elemental powers, but Mecha quickly became one of my favorite Kirby abilities ever. It lets you fly with a jetpack and use a bunch of various weapons that all pack a punch and feel great to use.
Back in the day, I never played the Wii version of Return to Dream Land, but I think last year’s Kirby and the Forgotten Land spoiled me. That was one of my favorite games of the year, but even with this being my first foray into this story, I felt like I’d done all of this before in other Kirby games. While I definitely enjoy this more than Star Allies, 2D Kirby has been so overdone by this point that I came away wishing for the 3D environments of Forgotten Land again.
The big gimmick in Return to Dream Land is that every now and then you will suck up super-powered versions of basic abilities. With the press of a button, you then eliminate every enemy and destroy certain environment pieces on the screen until you reach the end of the course. The first time you do it, it’s a visual treat. The next 15 times are pretty lackluster.
You can find interdimensional portals at the end of these treks that teleport you to areas that force you into beating a section with a moving wall. These were my favorite part of the main story, but the problem is they always end in a mini-boss fight against the same enemy with a different element type. I got so tired of doing these fights that I started skipping these interdimensional portals by the end of the game.
Related: The 10 best Kirby games, ranked
Overall, the story in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is good, but when you come into a game for the first time and have a good idea of what you will see, I think it’s time for a break from this style and to focus on 3D games going forward. I could only play solo with no online multiplayer, so it’s probably more fun when you have people to share the screen with, but I came away happy with only one playthrough.
Give me Mago-more!
Even if you come away from Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe feeling underwhelmed, it should all be worth it for the new Magolor Epilogue brought to the game. Taking place immediately after the end of the story, you play as Magolor as he tries to get back his powers, and instead of it being a Kirby clone, there are upgrade elements here and the focus is on combat more than it is exploring. When you start out, Magolor is pretty puny, but completing levels and building up combos reward you with experience points that significantly help you. After a bit of leveling up, you become a force to be reckoned with.
Feeling the progression of Magolor here is really fulfilling. You get some new abilities as you go on and there is a good deal of challenge here compared to the main game. I had a hard time with the final boss in particular, so much so that I needed to go back and level up some more. I found the lore implications to be very underwhelming here, but from a gameplay standpoint, Magolor Epilogue is a great way to add a few more hours to your playtime. I enjoyed this short experience significantly more than the main game.
Test your skill in Merry Magoland
Early on in your Return to Dream Land playthrough, you will unlock Merry Magoland. You can come here any time outside of a level and enjoy some sub-games. While I believe most of these are new to the Kirby games, I recognized a couple from Nightmare in Dream Land on the Game Boy Advance that I really enjoyed back then, and continue to do now.
None of these games are earth-shattering, but smacking a bomb with a pan and being the first to draw your sword out before your opponent is addicting. This is another area where support for online play or local friends would make the experience better, but I really enjoyed playing these short games. These simple skill tests, which can unlock various mask cosmetics to let Kirby wear in the main game, were a really nice add-on.
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a remaster where the spotlight should be on the new content added rather than the main game at play. If you are a hardcore Kirby fan, you will find enjoyment in the entire package, but I think most people will find more fun and enjoy the new experience in the Magolor Epilogue and playing the small mini-games in Merry Magoland. The main story is good, but doesn’t give a memorable experience compared to the other content. It’s a good package for Kirby fans and children, but if I wanted the best Kirby experience on Switch, I think I’d replay Forgotten Land instead.
|+||Magolor Epilogue is a fun add-on that brings a unique Kirby experience|
|+||The new Mecha ability is one of the best feeling Kirby powers ever|
|+||Sub-games are short and fun distractions|
|–||The main story is a basic and overdone Kirby game|
|–||An online play addition would help get more enjoyment with others|