Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, a remake of the Wii classic, is everything you want a Kirby game to be: colourful, adorable, and tons of fun. While hardcore gamers may be after more of a challenge, casual and younger players should dive head-first into Planet Popstar to see what it has to offer.
- Fantastic range of features and copy abilities
- Adorable and beautiful level designs
- Merry Magoland feels like a game in its own right
- Works great as a multiplayer game
- Main missions may be too easy for some
- Co-op is limited to local play
- Genre:3D platformer, multiplayer
- Release date:February 24th 2023
- Platforms:Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch OLED, Nintendo Switch Lite
Kirby is finally returning to Dream Land in this fantastic remake of the 2011 Wii original.
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe puts a big focus on finding collectables and replaying through levels with different copies to find hidden secrets. There is no large emphasis on tight platforming and intensive battles, which makes this game a great choice for younger players.
- Linear level design
- Focus on finding hidden collectables
- Plethora of copy abilities to try out
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe functions like most other Kirby games, with a 3D platformer structure and linear-level design. We start out on Planet Popstar and work through five worlds, each touting a specific theme. The first world, Cookie Country, is a mix of caves and grasslands, with the enemies in each level matching the general theme.
I played the first world with a friend, as all of this game can be completed with up to four people via local play. While playing on my own was very enjoyable in its own right, playing with a friend proved to be even more fun. Since you’re not competing, it just feels like a mad rush to see who can discover each collectable first, and if you both play as Kirby, you can have even more fun kitted out with the various copy abilities.
There is a great variety of levels on offer with a variety of mechanics involved; some levels start with me running away from a boulder, then traversing a maze-like level in the hope of finding all the collectables. The next level will then switch things up, taking place in a dark room lit only by candlelight. Despite my own trepidation, the water levels in Kirby control fantastically well, and I didn’t experience the same slow movement and frustration that I found in Super Mario Odyssey.
Kirby is not asking for intricate and well-timed platforming. The fact Kirby can float meant that I rarely fell off the map, and even though it is definitely an easy game to master, I still found a lot of enjoyment in bouncing around and looking for the collectables.
This is massively aided by the plethora of copy abilities that appear throughout the game. Some of my personal favourites include Sword, Leaf, Mecha and Beam. The former sees Kirby battling enemies like Link, even sporting a green cap for good measure. While Kirby’s suction ability is still iconic, it was really satisfying to swipe past enemies and figure out a set of moves that would take down foes without taking any damage.
The game also supplies you with amped-up versions of many of these copies; slash through entire parts of the stage with a massive Sword, or take the form of a giant snowball with the Ice copy and barrel through the level. I loved getting to experiment with these abilities, and there is a lot of incentive to come back and replay a stage with a new ability to find hidden doors and collectables. The puzzles don’t demand a massive amount of brain power, but they do encourage more experimentation, and I’m not embarrassed to say that I did get stumped on a couple of occasions.
Since I had access to all these copy abilities, as well as Kirby’s signature suction move, enemies rarely posed a significant threat. I died a couple of times during my playthrough, but it was mostly from getting accidentally squished by moving platforms. There is also a lot of food to be found throughout each level to replenish health, so even if you do get hit, it’s unlikely to be detrimental.
The boss levels are a little more challenging and I can see younger players needing a couple of attempts to complete. But looking past the easy difficulty, I really enjoyed working through the story and there is plenty to explore once you’ve gotten past Planet Popstar.
Return to Dream Land Deluxe does offer a few challenges once you visit Magolar’s Lor Starcutter ship, with several copy Challenges to take on as well as subgames once you gather enough of the story collectables.
Each challenge has a timer and an overall ranking, with the chance of getting a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal. The Sand Challenge pushes you through a level where you need to take out as many enemies as you can and collect coins as fast as possible, with the Sword Challenge giving you multiple enemies to swipe through.
These Challenges grant you stars as well as items you can use in the story and also give players a great opportunity to learn the moves for each copy. I loved dipping into them when I wanted a break from the story mode, and they’re great to play if you’re low on life or items.
There are also subgames you can play alone or with a friend which require tickets to play, which can be found throughout the story. Samurai Kirby is a personal favourite, wherein you compete with friends or a CPU to see how quickly you can react to the prompts on screen. I also really enjoyed Booming Blasters, as you go head to head with another three enemies in a small arena to see who can last the longest with just a blaster to defend yourself with.
I love that these games and challenges require collectables to be unlocked as it put me in a lovely loop of going through the story and then checking out everything I had unlocked. There is a great balance that really pushes you forward throughout the game, and I personally can’t wait to dive back in to see if I can complete my collection.
- Multiple subgames to choose from
- Up to four players in local play
- Unlock harder modes and more games the more you play
Merry Margoland combines all of the subgames that I unlocked in one place, with a lovely theme park setting. Completing these challenges fills out stamp cards, which give you even more supplies to use during the story mode as well as stars. There are also masks that you can unlock and wear in any mode, with my personal favourite easily being the blue mask, Gooey.
Merry Margoland can be played alone but from my experience, it’s much more satisfying to play with friends. Games can be played one at a time or you can go on a Tour, where four games are chosen for you. It reminded me a lot of Mario Party, as even though you don’t play on an actual board, it feels very much like a board game and is a great multiplayer to bring out at a party.
The same subgames from before appear, including Booming Blasters and Samurai Kirby. I gathered up a few friends to play and early on I decided that this game could be a standalone title on its own; the stamp mechanic means that we kept coming back to complete challenges and I loved trying on the new masks I unlocked after each game was over, and there are more than enough subgames to keep things feeling fresh each time.
Unlike the subgames that can be accessed in Magolar’s Starcutter ship, these subgames have three difficulty levels to choose from. Upping the difficulty makes the CPUs more adept and makes for some difficult matches, with many games ending with a surprise winner thanks to the double points you score in the last round.
When I started Return to Dream Land Deluxe, I assumed I would spend very little time in Merry Margoland, but it quickly became one of my favourite aspects of the game. My main gripe is that you can only play with friends via local play, which means I can’t battle my long-distance friends. Despite that issue, I can easily see myself getting this game out at parties and seeing how many more stamps and collectables my friends and I can collect.
I would really encourage anyone who’s into party games to check out Merry Margoland. Not only can you play as a mix of fun characters – including everyone’s favourite Meta Knight and King Dedede – but the variety and amount of subgames available means that there is massive replayability value, and you can even kit yourself out with a fun mask so your friends know who the real winner is.
- Simple and easy-to-follow story
- The cutscenes are cute and very colourful
- Ideal for younger players
If you’re at all familiar with Kirby’s games then you will know that the franchise isn’t known for creating cinema-grade storylines. There is a little more to chew on here, as Kirby is tasked with helping the interdimensional traveller Magolar to rebuild his ship after crashing on Planet Popstar.
The villains in Return to Dream Land Deluxe are pretty unthreatening, with cutesy and rounded designs. There are what looks to be sleeping variations of Kirby lying about, Waddle Dees sporting parasols and bees with spikes on their backs.
There is also more than meets the eye when it comes to the game’s ending, which made for a very entertaining and action-packed final third that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The story can be played alone or with up to four friends via local play. Players two to four have a larger player selection, with Meta Knight, Bandana Waddle Dee and King Dedede to choose from, alongside some neon versions of Kirby.
You can also take a break from the main story and dip into Merry Margoland as well as a plethora of challenges, with more being unlocked every time you collect Fruit Fragments across the stages.
- Colourful and rounded worlds that are a joy to look at
- More detailed than I would have expected
- Polished with zero glitches in sight
I was very pleased to find that Return to Dream Land Deluxe performed without issue during my 10-hour playthrough, with the typical polish I expect to see from Nintendo titles, unlike Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
I was very impressed with the level of detail in some of the cutscenes, with almost every scene in the last third of the game blowing me away. I played this game on the vanilla Nintendo Switch but I think it would shine even more on the Switch OLED, as the imagery already packs so much detail and would really benefit from a high level of contrast.
HAL Laboratory opted for a rounded and soft aesthetic which I absolutely loved; it made the game really easy to get into as there was always another cute enemy or cut scene waiting for me. Each level is very well crafted and packs a lot of personality, with each world having a dedicated theme, such as snow, sand or grassy lands.
Kirby has a variety of animations including a particularly cute idle routine. Equipping different copy abilities has Kirby moving and attacking in different ways, and it was always a joy to see him float gracefully into the air before plopping back to the ground.
While this style is clearly aimed at children, I still think there is a lot for older players to enjoy here, mainly down to the amount of detail in the backdrops and animation of the characters.
Should you buy it?
You want a fun platformer to play with friends:
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe gives you the chance to play both the story mode and Merry Margoland with up to four players in local play and offers up a ton of variety.
You want a challenge:
Despite my love for this game, it may not be for you if you prefer tight platforming and intricate controls.
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe won’t be to everyone’s taste due to the easy story and cutesy graphics, but I would implore everyone to give this game a chance. All the levels are packed with detail and the story mode has great replayability value thanks to all the hidden collectables.
Kirby is a joy to control and thanks to all his copy abilities, every level should feel fresh and different. The souped-up copies also give you new ways to take on a level, and it’s even more fun if you want to play with friends.
Merry Margoland is also fantastic and, in my opinion, could be a game in its own right. There are multiple subgames to choose from and several difficulty levels if you want to amp things up, and it’s becoming my favourite party game to play with friends. I’m very happy Kirby returned to Dream Land, and it has reaffirmed the little pink puffball as one of my favourite Nintendo characters.
How we test
We play every game we review through to the end, outside of certain exceptions where getting 100% completion, like Skyrim, is close to impossible to do. When we don’t fully finish a game before reviewing it we will always alert the reader.
Spent over 10 hours to complete the main story campaign
Tested multiplayer modes where applicable
Tested on the Nintendo Switch
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Yes, this game is a remake of the 2011 Wii game, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland.
No, this game is a linear 2D platformer.
Yes, you can play the main campaign with up to four players via local play. There is also Merry Margoland, which features a plethora of subgames that are best enjoyed with friends and family.