Published on March 17th, 2013 | by Duke0913
Review: Kirby’s Return to Dream Land
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Release Date(s): October 24, 2011 (North America), October 27, 2011 (Japan), November 25, 2011 (Europe), December 1, 2011 (Australia)
Just like Mario and Rayman, Kirby took a trip back to side-scrolling platforming with Kirby’s Return to Dream Land. This is actually the first game since Kirby: Squeak Squad on the Nintendo DS that Kirby took the traditional formula that the series is known for. In fact, many of his endeavors over the past few years have been completely different experiences from his early adventures, but still enjoyable for the most part. Now that he’s gone back to his roots, is the pink puffball still just as fun as he was before?
As with previous games, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland has some story elements attached to it. Kirby, King Dedede, and a bandana-wearing Waddle Dee are fighting over who gets the last bit of some food, while Meta Knight reads a book trying to ignore them. Suddenly, a ship known as The Lor Starcutter falls from out of the sky and many pieces of it are scattered across the land of Pop Star. Kirby and the others find the owner of the ship, named Magolor, and decide to help him rebuild his ship. Aside from the introduction of a new character and King Dedede tagging along helping out Kirby on his adventure, there’s nothing out of the ordinary for the game’s story.
This game doesn’t mark the first time that King Dedede and meta Knight help out Kirby, and this game also follows the New Super Mario Bros. Wii formula that other games have tried out as well. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land features 4 player co-op, where player one takes control of Kirby, and everyone else can play as either Meta Knight, King Dedede, Waddle Dee, or an alternate colored Kirby. They all can run, jump, and float, but what this game does that most others like it don’t, is give each of them unique traits.
Kirby is well known for his copy ability, and it’s back here. If he sucks up an enemy he can use their powers if possible, or just spit them out as a projectile at other enemies. Other playable characters come equipped with a weapon; King Dedede with his giant hammer, Meta knight with his sword, and Waddle Dee with his spear. They all have their own unique moveset and aren’t just clones of Kirby. If your friends want to be Kirby, that’s very possible since any player can be a different colored Kirby; all of which can copy abilities just like player one. Players can also piggyback on one another, share health recovery using “face-to-face”, and perform powerful Team Attacks. The fact that you have so many options as far as multiplayer goes is one of the game’s strong points, and there aren’t many others that do that when it comes to a 4 player co-op platformer.
The one issue that really sticks out with this game, one that can be quite annoying at times when players of different skill play with each other, is that everyone shares the same life counter. Anyone other than player 1 can join the game at any time, but it costs one life in order to do so. If someone other than player 1 loses all their health or fall into a bottomless pit, the game will continue. However, if player 1 does die, then all players start over at the previous checkpoint, regardless of how much health everyone else has. Other players can come back even if there are no spare lives to use, but they won’t start out in full health. The only somewhat good point is that if a player drops out at full health, an extra life is added to your total. Even though I love the multiplayer in this game, it still doesn’t make sense as to why everyone can’t have their own number of extra lives.
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land not only introduces new copy abilities, but also Super Abilities, which you can get by absorbing special enemies. Their use is somewhat limited, in that each Super Ability can be used as long as there’s energy in the gauge displayed for it. Their primary use is for taking out many enemies at once, destroying obstacles, and solving puzzles. Though I wish there was more use for them, they’re definitely a lot of fun when you have the chance to get them.
Almost every time you’re using a Super Ability, you’ll be able to find a bonus area within a level in order to fight against a Sphere Doomer, which will award you with Energy Spheres if you are able to beat them. Energy Spheres are collectibles that you can find in most stages, and after collecting a certain amount you can unlock some extras in The Lor Starcutter.
On board the ship you’ll find a room filled with copy abilities, all of which are unlocked as you collect more Energy Spheres. In a way, it allows you to have any ability in any stage, minus the Super Abilities. You can also unlock mini-games and challenges, the former of which you can play solo or with your friends through the main menu of the game. They’re surprisingly fun, and each have different levels of difficulty which add a bit of replay value.
Challenges have you run through an obstacle course centered around the use of a copy ability, and will require you to be a bit clever in order to clear them. Collecting coins, defeating enemies, and finishing quickly all affect your score. When you finish a challenge, you’ll be given a rank based on your overall performance; bronze being the lowest rank, and platinum being the highest. These are where I spent most of my time in the game, because as the name implies, they do provide a decent challenge. Not only that, they’re a blast to blaze through once you learn more about the abilities and layouts of the challenges.
Though this game is pretty easy for the most part (like most Kirby games), it does have a decent increase in difficulty as you progress. If you still find the main adventure too easy, there is a harder difficulty you can try which not only changes some of the level design, but gives many of the bosses additional moves and even new forms. The same can be said for The Dojo, which is the boss rush of the game that can also be played with friends.
Games in the Kirby franchise are usually released late in a Nintendo console’s life cycle, with visuals that are some of the best you’ll see on that system. The same can be said for Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, because for a Wii game, the visuals look amazing. All the characters movements are fluid, and the environments are bright and lively. The music is nicely composed too; not exactly the best in the series, but the soundtrack works for what it was made for. It all adds up to a pleasing and adorable presentation that Kirby is well known for.
If you’re looking for a Kirby game that’s not traditional, then this probably won’t interest you. If you’re interested in a more traditional title however, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land is worth your time. It’s not exactly the best game in the series, but there’s a lot of fun to be had with this game, especially with friends. Though the multiplayer life system is questionable, this game is much more enjoyable with a crowd. Even when playing this on your own there are challenges, bonuses, and a higher difficulty to experience. The game is an overall solid entry in the series, and a nice way of returning Kirby back to what made the little guy memorable.
+ Varied multiplayer characters
+ Addicting challenges
+ Loads of content
– Sharing lives with other players
– Can be too easy at times
Final score: 4 out of 5