Is there anything more adorable than Kirby?
It’s certainly arguable that there isn’t. Nintendo’s 30-year-old pink ball of happiness might not be the company’s most famous mascot, but they’re still incredibly iconic. And, hands down, far cuter than Mario could ever dream to be. We’ve been enjoying chilled-out platforming adventures with Kirby since the early 90s, with well over 30 games released in the series. They’re showing no signs of slowing down, either: Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is the sixth Kirby game to be released on Nintendo Switch. And it’s worth every penny.
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe isn’t a brand new game, though. As is the habit of Nintendo in recent years, this is an enhanced remake of a game previously released on Wii back in 2011. There’s a wealth of quality of life enhancements added, new features, new abilities for Kirby, and a brand new game mode: Merry Magoland. We’ll get to that later.
At its heart, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a bright and colourful platforming game. As Kirby, you’ll make your way left-to-right across the screen, taking down enemies and, occasionally, stealing their abilities. Suck up certain enemies and their skills become yours, turning Kirby into a knight, a water mage, a bomb expert, or more. There are dozens of different abilities to be discovered, and trying them all out is one of the most joyous aspects of Return to Dream Land Deluxe. To find certain collectibles in a level you may need to have copied a specific ability, so it’s always worth keeping tabs on what enemies are around.
If you kill them by accident, it doesn’t matter: the moment they go off-screen, enemies in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe respawn. It’s a little annoying if you need to backtrack for any reason, but knowing you’ll never be locked out of an ability is very handy. It’s also not as if defeating foes here is particularly arduous: Return to Dream Land Deluxe isn’t exactly challenging.
But pushing your skills to their limits clearly isn’t the point. This is a game all about having fun, and even when you’re fighting against its bosses it’s unlikely you’ll ever feel like it’s difficult. If you’re the type of person who likes to be tested when playing a game, Kirby isn’t for you. But you’ve only got to take one look at the pink, round protagonist to know that, surely.
Kirby’s platforming levels take place in a range of environments. The usual suspects are here: forest levels, beach levels, underwater levels. It’s hardly groundbreaking stuff, then, but it doesn’t really matter, because each level is beautifully designed, bold and colourful. Bright and cheery world design is what Nintendo does best, and Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a fine example.
Between each world of Return to Dream Land Deluxe, you can pay a visit to Magolor’s ship, the Lor Starcutter. You see, your goal is to find all the missing parts of the ship, with each one available by defeating a world’s boss. Visit the Lor Starcutter, and you’ll find a range of minigames and challenge levels to compete in. Minigames can be played against bots, or you can recruit friends and family to compete locally with you. Challenges, however, all are about mastering one particular skill, tasking you with setting the best score on a timed level. These are the trickiest part of Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, the only part of the game that will truly test you. They’re completely optional, but great fun to try to beat.
You’ll only have access to a small selection of challenges within Magolor’s ship to begin with. As you play through more levels in the main game and collect cogs from within them, more will unlock. You’ll need to pretty much complete everything if you want access to everything that the Lor Starcutter has to offer. But that’s where Merry Magoland comes in.
Merry Magoland is brand new to Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe. It’s a theme park you can visit separately from the main game, filled with minigames that can be enjoyed at any time. Playing the main game will unlock new content, but there’s a wealth available straight away, turning Return to Dream Land Deluxe into a party game of sorts. There’s a nice variety of minigames on offer, from samurai challenges – tasking you and your opponent to press a button as quickly as possible – to a Ninja Dojo shuriken-throwing challenge. Ironically, there’s probably more content here alone than in last year’s standalone party multiplayer title Kirby’s Dream Buffet. And so if party games are your thing, you won’t be disappointed.
For most players though, it’s the main meat of Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe – the platforming adventure – that will draw them in. It might not be the most revolutionary game – after all, the original is 12 years old – but it’s a charming platformer that’s as joyous as it always has been. And with the addition of Merry Magoland, this is a sizeable package with essentially endless replayability.