Game Review

Kirby's Return to Dream Land Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

A dream come true

To say that long-time Kirby fans have been clamouring for Nintendo to release a good old-fashioned Kirby title would be a gross understatement. While Nintendo has released several instalments in the series over the past few years, the majority of them, such as Kirby's Epic Yarn and Kirby Mass Attack, have been fairly radical departures from the classic gameplay fans have grown to love. Thankfully, after quite a few years in development, HAL Laboratory has finally resurrected old-school Kirby gameplay and taken the beloved pink fluff back to the place where his adventure first began.

Fans of the earlier Kirby release will immediately feel right at home in Kirby's Return to Dream Land as the majority of the classic gameplay elements have returned. You'll be given a quick cutscene setting up the storyline and then tossed into the stage select screen. As with most Kirby titles, your goal is simply to navigate your way to the end-of-level doorway, collecting abilities and speciality items along the way.

Kirby only has a basic move set to start with: running, jumping, floating and inhaling enemies and items that can be swallowed or spat out as projectiles. There will also be times when you must wiggle the Wii Remote while performing your inhale move in order to suck up items and enemies that are too large for your regular inhale. Of course, it wouldn't be a classic Kirby game without the ability to absorb enemies' special powers and there's plenty of variety here with the abilities and their respective moves.

While the basic special abilities themselves are quite useful in tackling the barrage of enemies, the developers have also included a new feature that takes these special attack powers to a whole new level. If you're able to inhale certain enemies, you'll gain a Super Special Ability; think of these as much more powerful versions of some of the standard abilities. You'll be able to unleash mammoth screen-filling attacks that are as devastating as they are spectacular to watch. Of course, you only have these abilities for a short time, but they can be extremely useful.

In addition to the highly enjoyable single-player campaign, up to three more players can join in on the story mode. These additional players will be able to choose from three special series characters, such as King Dedede or Meta Knight, or even a different-coloured Kirby. Bringing in additional players will cost you a life for each one inserted into your game, but the trade-off is worth it considering how helpful more players can be. You can even hop on each other's backs and combine strength to execute powerful special moves that can't be performed by a single character.

As you manoeuvre through each level, finding well-hidden Energy Spheres allows you to unlock vast amounts of additional content, ranging from mini-games and challenges, such as time trials and target practice, to rooms that allow you to copy a special ability before entering a level on the world map. As trivial as these additional tasks might sound, once you've seen how fun and challenging they are, you'll definitely find yourself going back to completed levels to pick up additional Energy Spheres.

When it comes to the feel of the game, it's clear that the developer wanted to try to retain a classic Kirby sensibility — aside from the added number of copy abilities, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference in most cases. While there are bits of floaty physics tossed into the mix for times when Kirby is flying or swimming, for the most part the controls are extremely responsive. Using the Wii Remote on its side works quite well in using the classic control scheme, but having to stretch over to use the Minus button to drop abilities can be a bit inconvenient. However, it's a very minor gripe in what is, overall, a very solid control set up.

Over the past couple of years we've seen Nintendo and a handful of other developers really stretch the Wii console's graphical capabilities, but the presentation of Return to Dream Land should give the more flashy titles a run for their money. Not only is the world vibrant and colourful, but the level of detail in the various scenery and characters is impressive. The multiple levels of scrolling do a fantastic job of conveying depth and touches like distant backgrounds having the same level of detail as those found in the foreground shows the care HAL poured into Dream Land — and a monochromatic sub-level in various levels has to be seen to be believed. It's this attention to detail that really brings the storybook world of Dream Land alive and show just how capable the Wii can be when given the effort.

It wouldn't be a Kirby without a sugary sweet soundtrack and you're likely to crack a smile just listening to the whimsical musical tracks strung throughout the game. There are some amazing new musical tracks in the game, but the ones that tend to be the most catchy are the classic tunes that have been remixed for this release. There's honestly not a bad song in the entire game and gamers who stick with the game until the latter stages of the game will be treated to some of the best music the series has ever featured.

Conclusion

Kirby fans have been waiting a long time for a return to the classic Kirby experience, but after playing Kirby's Return to Dream Land, it's perfectly clear that the wait was well worth it. Not only are the colourful visuals absolutely stunning, but the classic gameplay, although a tad on the easy side, has never played better or featured more variety. And when you take into account how much additional content has been included, not to mention the engaging multiplayer mode, you end up with what is easily one of the most well-rounded Kirby titles ever crafted and the old-school Kirby adventure fans have been dreaming of for years.

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Game Trailer

Kirby is coming back to Wii in 2011!

User Comments (117)

TeeJay

#2

TeeJay said:

I'm so glad we finally got a traditional Kirby game. Too bad I can't play it. XD

pikku

#6

pikku said:

How much blood/gore is in this game? because my mommy doesn't like me playing games that have an overload of cuteness. :(

Xiao_Pai

#8

Xiao_Pai said:

...Isn't this GCN graphics? Or did they really upgrade them some here, hard to tell, Kirby games never really went up there with graphics anyway. xD

KaiserGX

#10

KaiserGX said:

You should see it in person ^^ the frame rate is really good.

Btw Corbs is there a bosh rush?

RantingThespian

#11

RantingThespian said:

@Eureka Graphics are second to game-play. As long as the game-play is solid, I don't care if the graphics aren't top notch.

I will be nabbing this thing after the holidays (if I don't receive it as a gift).

Shiryu

#12

Shiryu said:

It will be hard to wait for it's European release... oh well, nothing I'm not used to.

komicturtle

#13

komicturtle said:

I did not expect less :D

I knew this game would be a masterpiece- finally, the Kirby game I've been waiting for years is here.

Can't wait to get it.

Xiao_Pai

#14

Xiao_Pai said:

I don't care about graphics either, but it seemed like Corbs was exaggerating it a bit. xD
(and IGN says it has GCN visuals. >.>)

KaiserGX

#15

KaiserGX said:

Which doesn't make sense because this ISN'T the Gamecube game. This game had 3 make overs before it became what it is. It did borrow a few things though.

she_gamer

#16

she_gamer said:

Excellent. I was planning on getting this anyways, but it's good to see that it pulled a 9/10.

JayArr

#18

JayArr said:

I would buy every single Kirby game if they weren't so short and easy. This one sounds fun for sure. Great review Corbie.

KaiserGX

#20

KaiserGX said:

JayArr if you want difficulty and a BIT more length. You won't be disappointment. With something later in the game. How do I put spoiler tags.
This is a spoiler.

KaiserGX

#23

KaiserGX said:

Ok lol. There is an EX Mode, basically the same as Adventure. You get half the health, Bosses became EX with different moves, harder and some enemies change or take more damage.

The_Fox

#25

The_Fox said:

I regretted buying KEY at full price due to how short it was so I'll probably wait for this to drop in price before I pick it up.

KaiserGX

#26

KaiserGX said:

20 hours was short to you? Or did you just not get the items.
(Maybe it took me 15 and I was thinking of something else) This game has a lot of re playability though.

Xiao_Pai

#27

Xiao_Pai said:

Giving it a 7.5 because its "too basic and easy". >_>
I wasn't expecting it to be hard anyways, I just want a Kirby game that reminds me of Superstar. xD

The_Fox

#29

The_Fox said:

@Kaiser
It didn't help that it was pretty easy as well. I know I shouldn't go into a Kirby game expecting a challenge but I still felt a bit let down.

KaiserGX

#30

KaiserGX said:

I think this game has a good pace, the Challenge Rooms are really hard to get Platinum for once. The game goes from being baby easy to old school hard but that's very near the end. If you want that to continue go to the EX Mode, and it will basically double the length and challenge. Also since you have abilities this time you should get different feels since each abbility has many unique move sets from others. People who enjoy Super Star their re-playability comes mostly from the Arena. Using each abbility and learning the strengths and weaknesses. If you still have KEY trade it in. I will assure you this will be more enjoyable for you.

It can't be any easier then Yarn was. I will admit there was a few times I was getting a bit bored in Yarn. Even in Co-Op. Just a slow pace.

FonistofCruxis

#31

FonistofCruxis said:

@Eureka You know what IGN are like, compare the graphics in this to the original cancelled GC version and they look much better. I think the graphics in this look really good.

Chrono_Cross

#32

Chrono_Cross said:

IGN just nagged the crud out of this game. Saying it's way too easy and it's for kids and young siblings only. I've never played a Kirby game where an 18 would feel uncomfortable if someone knew he was playing it.

I'll take this review into consideration unlike IGN's poor excuse...

Nintendude92

#33

Nintendude92 said:

The reviews that are down on this game are because Kirby has been in some very good experimental titles recently-- but it has been too long since his last traditional outing. This is the Donkey kong country returns of 2011

SonicMaster

#34

SonicMaster said:

Sadly, I can't get this for a while because I have to pay for Sonic Generations then pay my bro back for something. :( Oh well. Great review, Corbs!

komicturtle

#35

komicturtle said:

That's IGN. An editor can praise the hell outta MW3 but I'll still say "Meh, not interested."

If you love Kirby games, don't let others stop you from getting it or "change" your mind. I know this game is ace even though I have not played it :D

Tasuki

#36

Tasuki said:

Great review Corbie. I am going to be picking this one up tomorrow. Its nice to see Kirby going back to his roots.

cyrus_zuo

#37

cyrus_zuo said:

So minus the EX mode, how long is the game (in hours?). Just a good estimate?
(I just can't pay $50 again for another 10 hour game...)
Regarding Epic Yarn, I'm surprised everyone thought that game was so easy, it gets REALLY hard the last couple of world's, getting all of the patches became rather challenging and there were plenty of times that I got frustrated and many that I was getting smacked around.

CorbsAdmin

#39

Corbs said:

There's just no way to know cyrus as I was only able to quickly play through the game without unlocking a lot of the things. Plus the additional challenges and stuff can offer an almost limitless amount of replayability. And that's not even considering going through the game with additional players. It's damn sure worth $50, I'll say that, but what you get out of it depends greatly on what you're willing to put into it. :D

TKOWL

#43

TKOWL said:

I have to wait until Friday for this...

This is gonna be a long week... :(

StarDust4Ever

#44

StarDust4Ever said:

IGN reviews are garbage, anyway. They always focus on special effects before gameplay. Being "cute" does not equate to "crap" or "suck", nor does "difficult" necessarily translate to "good". The sooner that IGN and all the PS360 FPS fanboys realise this, the better off the gaming industry will be. :P

They are having a midnight lauch at my local GameStop tonight. It's pretty damn unusual that they do something like this for a Nintendo title. I'm definitely going to that, btw! :D

CorbsAdmin

#46

Corbs said:

I play bullet hell shmups all the time, so I always love a brutal challenge. But sometimes I like to sit down and just relax and enjoy a game. And this game suits that perfectly. Not to mention the fact that it's fun as hell. :D

Sneaker13

#48

Sneaker13 said:

Sounds great, too bad Europe have to wait a full month to get it during an already overcrowded holiday season.

SPEtheridge

#49

SPEtheridge said:

Really want to play this game although yarn was good glad we got a classic style Kirby again

Odnetnin

#50

Odnetnin said:

If you love IGN so much why don't you marry it?

Also, good review Corbs. No score disputes with this one. ;)

theblackdragonAdmin

#51

theblackdragon said:

sorry oddy, but I'm agreeing with The_Fox — the constant dogging of IGN just for the sake of dogging them is pretty lame. if you really want to hurt IGN that badly for some reason, just ignore them and stop continuing to spread their name across the internet — even negative namedropping is still namedropping, after all :3

grumblebuzzz

#53

grumblebuzzz said:

I think a lot of people forget that some games on Gamecube had incredible graphics that still look good today, like Zelda: The Wind Waker. It's not about the graphical horsepower to me anyway, it's about the game itself, and this one looks great and I'm sure it plays even better than it looks.

NintyMan

#54

NintyMan said:

I think I'll get this tomorrow, since for whatever reason, GameStop didn't have it stocked today and said that it would come at midnight. It's time that Kirby got back to his roots after dabbling into so many gameplay styles. It's good to do something unique, but now and then you should go back to what made you best!

WaveWarlock

#57

WaveWarlock said:

I'll snag this with Skyward Sword in Christmas. Seems like the perfect time to play, not Halloween. :p

Anyways, I wonder if I'll enjoy this more than Epic yarn...

Odnetnin

#58

Odnetnin said:

@TBD That's exactly what I meant. Someone hasn't read Diary of a Wimpy Kid (no that I would expect you to have).

Rawk_Hawk

#59

Rawk_Hawk said:

IGN still does video game reviews? That's news to me no offense, but I'll stick with this website for Nintendo reviews.

warioswoods

#60

warioswoods said:

The number one question on my mind was the multiplayer, which for me will be the key to this game's success or failure. For some reason, the above summary is bizarrely light on details there :-/

For those who know...

  • How does dying work? Does the game pause for moment when players die? Does Kirby's death cause something different from supporting characters' deaths?
  • Can secondary players inhale enemies and earn abilities? The review mentions that they can choose another color Kirby, so I hope so.
  • If not choosing a Kirby, how do the helper characters work? What abilities? Is it boring just having the same moves while the Kirby character is able to constantly change?
  • Do the levels work any differently in multiplayer? More enemies, etc?
  • Is the player interaction NSMB-style (bump each other off platforms) or DKCR-style (stand on different layers) ?
  • Pick up other players? Throw them? Inhale them? What works?
  • Does the screen wait for the last player or does it squish them if they get left behind? Is there a jump-forward mechanism if you're left behind, as in DKCR? What about a way to drop out for a minute, like the bubbles in NSMB or the ability for Diddy to just ride on DK's back?
CorbsAdmin

#61

Corbs said:

Well since the multiplayer plays pretty much exactly the same, even with other players involved, I didn't give too much away. You can't harm, inhale, or toss other players, but those additional players have the same abilities and copy abilities as the main Kirby player and no level changes are made for multiple players. About the only unique twist to the multiplayer mode is being able to jump on each other's backs and pull off a couple of special moves. The other characters, like King Dedede and Meta Knight do have a unique set of attacks, but they end up performing pretty much the same as those Kirby uses.

And if a player gets left behind, they will be automatically whisked back to the original Kirby player. Dying takes lives away from the main player, as does joining in the game by an additional player. So while the multiplayer mode is a lot of fun, it does make the game even easier and doesn't feature much in the way of content unique to it. If it had, I would have gone into far more detail about the multiplayer aspects of the game than I did in the review above. :D

jgary1

#62

jgary1 said:

Epic Yarn provided plenty of gameplay, if you sought 100% completion. Otherwise, I could see someone blowing through it pretty quickly.

TheGreenSpiny

#63

TheGreenSpiny said:

@61 Corbs: Wait... That can't be right. One of the preview videos had Kirby inhaling, Dedede, Meta Knight, and dwadle dee and puking them back at the tree.

CorbsAdmin

#64

Corbs said:

Sorry about that. I went back and tried to inhale the other players and could still not do it, BUT you can shake the Wii Remote while inhaling and suck up the other players and shoot them out. Didn't even think to try that when we first began playing the multiplayer mode. :D

SuperToad

#65

SuperToad said:

IGN's take on multiplayer:

In addition to drastically reducing the already-easy difficulty, the multiplayer component of Dreamland carries with it some odd quirks. All players share one pool of lives. Death, however, is not equal in this game. If supporting players die, they simply pull a life from the remainder. If that number hits zero, they're basically given infinite lives. If the primary player dies, however, all players get pulled back to the start of the area just entered or, if no lives remain, the game shoots the team back to restart the level with a continue. As a result of this strange design choice, the lead player gets forced into hiding, particularly in instances when players drain all of the lives out of the pool. Dreamland developer HAL should have looked to New Super Mario Bros. Wii, where every player has a life count, for a more effective system.

warioswoods

#67

warioswoods said:

Thanks for the additional information, and I realize that not everything can be fit in a review that remains short enough for people to actually read (the few that don't skip straight to the score, that is).

It sounds like the multiplayer wasn't as central to the creation of this game as it was for NSMB or DKCR. Too bad, as I'd love to have another multiplayer platformer on par with those two.

Then again, IGN's criticisms don't really bother me at all. The fact that the multiplayer is asymmetrical isn't a problem for me; in DKCR you also have some differences in role, with Diddy able to ride on DK as a powerup but not vice versa, and that actually worked well. Having one "lead" person responsible for keeping the main Kirby alive might be fun, and it might also be nice to allow someone less skilled to just jump in whenever and have fun.

Now I need to see a video of 2 Kirbys instead of Kirby+others, to see how that plays out.

Arthedain

#68

Arthedain said:

Thanks for the great review AND the additional info in the comments. I know I will enjoy this one together with friends :)

Sabrewing

#70

Sabrewing said:

I picked this up yesterday. I love how the game is either getting HUGE praise, or damning praise, all on the same criteria — it's a "back to basics" Kirby game which takes no real risks. Oh, and it's easy. Because you know, Kirby games are more notorious than Ghosts 'N Goblins or Contra. :P

It'd be nice if there was any way to play as one of the not-Kirbys without needing another player, but it's definitely a lot of fun.

Kage_88

#71

Kage_88 said:

A lot of reviewers can't seem to get it in their heads that the Kirby games are supposed to be for kids and less advanced gamers (none of that 'casual' rubbish) - and Return to Dreamland looks to do the series proud.

Personally, I'm not the pink-puffball's biggest fan - but my brother really enjoys the series (and he's 23!). It provides a nice break from the more intense, rage-inducing titles out there!

Tryken

#72

Tryken said:

I'm 23, married, work a full time job... And really look forward to playing the new Kirby!

My little half brother, who's 6, plays Call of Duty. How does that feel, IGN? =)

LittleIrves

#73

LittleIrves said:

I'm with Corbs on the lack of difficulty being a nice respite from other game experiences I enjoy. Love Super Meat Boy and the BIT.TRIP series, but man, it's nice to just coast through a lovely game once in awhile that doesn't raise my blood pressure. I was never too warm on Kirby, but I'm coming around... might finally pick up Epic Yarn.

Xiao_Pai

#74

Xiao_Pai said:

....That reminds me, remembering the GCN trailer WAAAAY back. Does this game still have the Helpers? You know, gather an ability, then release a CPU enemy helper? :p
If not oh well, no biggie. xD

kkslider5552000

#77

kkslider5552000 said:

@74 Doesn't seem like it's needed and we would have seen helpers if they were in the game. That's my guess anyway.

Shame, I was looking forward to multiple helpers.

Xiao_Pai

#78

Xiao_Pai said:

Yeah, they are somewhat useful...lol. In Superstar I usually used them as another way to put another ability I wanted on "hold" for a bit. xD

Punny

#80

Punny said:

This game makes "sucking" a good thing. I am tempted to purchase it, but I'm saving up for SM3DL. Thank goodness for Christmas! :)

CorbsAdmin

#83

Corbs said:

We'll have the Pokemon Rumble Blast review very soon. Hold tight. :D

OverlordMao

#84

OverlordMao said:

Playing it right now and absolutely loving it :) Thanks for the review Corbs, I'm sure I'll enjoy it just as much as you have.

BulbasaurusRex

#85

BulbasaurusRex said:

IGN definitely made some unfair criticisms, but they still gave it an overall good review and a good score of 7.5.

Anyway, it's nice to see this after the disappointment of Epic Yarn. I really missed Kirby's inhaling powers, and while I normally prefer easier difficulty in my video games, Epic Yarn went way too far with the complete inability to die. Sure, it can be challenging to collect all the patches and gold medals, but why should I bother when, outside of the boss levels, their only use is for a stupid house decoration activity?

NintyMan

#86

NintyMan said:

I got the game today and played it not too long ago, and it definitely does not look like a GameCube game in the slightest. The colors are rich and the animations smooth. The music that I've heard so far is good as well. I guess IGN hadn't played a Kirby game in a while.

Kirby might look childish, but underneath the fluff is some pretty tough stuff. It's every bit of "hardcore" as the other Nintendo franchises, period.

pntjr

#87

pntjr said:

Too high a score.
Lower it down to a 3.
Just Kidding
Great review Corbs!
I hope to pick this one up soon.

47drift

#89

47drift said:

Kind of weird that they didn't make it so you can drop abilities with the A button instead of the minus button.

But nonetheless, a superb game and a true successor to the masterpiece that was Kirby Super Star.

wanderlustwarrior

#90

wanderlustwarrior said:

I might have missed it, but how do the non-kirby player characters play? Can you play the game single-player with a different character?

Poketendo

#91

Poketendo said:

This looks like a great game, but I'm not so sure or I'm going to get him. No matter Kirby's Epic Yarn has a better rating, this one looks better. But I've got mutch more games I would like, and i would bettter like to buy a DS game.

CorbsAdmin

#92

Corbs said:

No, you have to use Kirby if you're playing the game solo. And aside from a different move here and there, the other characters play basically the same.

JSX

#95

JSX said:

been waiting for a proper kirby console game for like ever
finally

Yoshidude

#96

Yoshidude said:

I have to wait till FRIDAY to get this game!!!! Well, at least I'm getting it soon. : D

Yoshidude

#97

Yoshidude said:

Well tomorrow. So it's not that bad. But time goes by soooo slowly when your at school compared to when you're not. : <

Kurachi

#98

Kurachi said:

looks nice, sounds nice
but for me personally due to my handicaps: controls..... sux

if only it'd have GC controller option

i'll play some kirby games on VC instead.... sigh, too bad

WolfRamHeart

#99

WolfRamHeart said:

Good review Corbs. It sounds like a fantastic game and I'm sure that I will really enjoy it. I'll have to pick it up at a later date though. There are just way too many games on my holiday wish list.:/

DRLAdmin

#100

DRL said:

Picked this game up last night and put in a couple hours; Very fun so far although the main campaign seems like it may be surprisingly short. This IS a blast to play though! One of the first current gen games to really remind me of a SNES game in its level design and overall presentation. Just need it to keep me busy until Rayman Origins...

rafaelluik

#103

rafaelluik said:

Thanks a lot for all the information you posted on the comments!! I made me more interested on the game, even though I can't play it because I don't have a Wii. :'(

Haha, so after some comments about other people's comments on how the game is easy... I'd like to know the opinion of you guys who are playing. Is the game easy? Short? What about when aiming for 100%?

alvieao

#104

alvieao said:

It's been 11 years since we had a traditional Kirby platformer on a console, the last being Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Finally, the long wait is over! Kirby's Return to Dream Land is exactly what it says: a return to the classic Kirby platforming we know and love. The graphics are colorful and vibrant, while the soundtrack is great as I’m enjoying the remixed classic tunes. True to previous Kirby games, Return to Dream Land opens up a harder adventure after the main game and the return of the Arena boss rush mode. Along with New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land is a splendid return to form on the Wii.

JarredBuzzo

#105

JarredBuzzo said:

I find it strange how the reviews seem to vary wildly. Some publications LOVE this game, others seem to almost hate it or find it mundane....I may fall into the former as I love the traditional Kirby games and haven't played one (a traditional Kirby game with what is now considered his trademark, the copy ability) in a while...I'll buy it as soon as I can.

Warshade

#107

Warshade said:

Me and a friend beat this game this weekend. It is quite short if your a platforming vet. The special super powered power ups are fun to use and some can be tricky. With multiple players all the bosses are a breeze. Still this is just plain a fun game.

srkmish

#108

srkmish said:

This game is good but very easy :( . As some of the reviewers said, they dont put to use the various abilities that kirby gets throughout the way

odd69

#111

odd69 said:

I just now got my copy. Im behind but ive been waiting for this game for quite some time im just glad to finally have it. I agree its my favorite kirby game ! This does the series justice for sure. Awesome review corb

gabrielwoj

#113

gabrielwoj said:

This game can be easy at first. But why you don't try get all 100%. Arena, EX Mode... It's getting harder, also, get all the machine pieces.

Poketendo

#114

Poketendo said:

I think the €50 is a bit too mutch, but i think i'm going to buy it second handed, together with 2 ds games.

SparkOfSpirit

#116

SparkOfSpirit said:

This is the BEST Kirby game. It does everything former Kirby games did but is much better at all of them at it. The Hard mode is pretty great, too.

Seriously. If you love platformers or Kirby- GET THIS!

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