Kirby?s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Switch
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Medium: Digital/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

Here?s my experience of Kirby?s Return to Dream Land Deluxe in a nutshell: as I was playing through the first level, I paused the game and went to the Switch?s main menu just to double-check I hadn?t accidentally downloaded and started playing Kirby Star Allies. In retrospect, of course, the lack of, you know, allies should?ve been a dead giveaway, but for that brief moment when I started the game, I could?ve sworn I?d already played it.

Mind you, in a sense, I had already played it ? about a dozen years ago, back when the game was originally released on the Wii. But if I?m being honest, I don?t remember much about that game, whereas I do remember Star Allies, so that?s where my mind immediately went.

However you want to look at it, though, that?s the general feeling of Kirby?s Return to Dream Land Deluxe: it?s familiar. It?s comforting. It?s a straightforward Kirby 2D platformer, without any of the bells and whistles you?d find in, say, Kirby?s Epic Yarn, let alone Kirby and the Forgotten Land.

That?s not to say it?s a bad game, of course ? not by any stretch of the imagination. It?s an easy one, to be sure, as we?ve come to expect from Kirby, but it?s still fun. It?s really enjoyable to use all the powers he has at his disposal, from throwing bombs and wielding swords, to sloshing his enemies with water and shooting fireballs. Return to Dream Land Deluxe also brings over a pair of abilities from Star Allies, Mecha and Sand…and yes, Kirby in a mech suit firing rockets and lasers is every bit as great as it sounds.

On top of those regular abilities, Kirby also has access to Super Abilities that allow him to do things like turn into a giant ball of snow, shoot fiery dragons across the screen, and slash through the world with a giant sword. If they were available the entire game, of course, they?d be game-breaking, but they?re available sparingly enough here that when they make an appearance, it?s a blast.

As for the levels, they?re about what you?d expect ? the usual mix of different environments that you?d get in any platformer worth its salt. None of them represent a huge departure from your standard Kirby levels, which, depending on your perspective, either underlines how much of a ?comfort food?-style game this is, or how comparatively little effort seems to go into creating the series? 2D worlds. (Personally, I fall more in the former camp, but I can see why some may fall into the latter.)

Of course, given that Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a remake, the bigger question about the game isn?t ?How does it compare to previous Kirby games??, since we already know that ? but, rather, ?What new stuff does the game bring to the table compared to the original?? And on that front, the game delivers.

For one thing, you get access to a minigame collection, Merry Magoland, which is kind of appropriate given that the game originated on the Wii. While none of the minigames are the sort of thing that you?d want to play instead of the base game, it?s still enjoyable to take a break from the platforming in favour of short multiplayer fun. You can play games like Tome Trackers, which is like how Smash Bros. would be if you were vying with other characters to grab books, or Booming Blasters, where you get to try to blast away other competitors with bombs, Crackity Hack, where you?re competing to see who can drive a hole the furthest down into the ground. Again, they?re hardly essential (and 8 of the 11 minigames have appeared in previous Kirby games), but they add to the multiplayer fun.

Further, once you finish the main game there?s a new series of levels called the Magolor Epilogue: The Interdimensional Traveler, where you get to play as, obviously, Magolor. While it feels similar to Kirby, the big difference is that you?re helping Magolor regain lost powers, rather than him having access to all the powers from the get-go. It?s not a long game, and it can be played with up to four players, but it adds an interesting wrinkle to the usual Kirby formula.

But it?s not a huge departure ? which is kind of the point of Kirby?s Return to Dream Land Deluxe. As I wrote above, it?s pretty much what you?d expect from a 2D Kirby game ? but seeing as the baseline for those is ?cute platformer that won?t tax you too much and that you can play with pretty much anyone,? that?s hardly a bad thing. Add in a few new elements, and you have the ingredients for a pretty solid remake.

Nintendo provided us with a Kirby?s Return to Dream Land Deluxe Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A-