If you’ve had a gander at our list of the Best Kirby Games Of All Time lately (or read our original 9/10 review from back in the day, more to the point) you’ll know that we hold Kirby’s Return to Dream Land in high regard around these parts. A return to classic Kirby action after a few less successful deviations from the norm (sorry Canvas Curse and Squeak Squad), this 2011 entry in the franchise was yet another super strong addition to the Nintendo Wii’s formidable roster of top-notch platformers.

Now, some 12 years down the line (what is time?) HAL Laboratory has returned to Dream Land to bring us this deluxe edition of the pink puffball’s grand return and, well, it’s still a banger. But now it’s a banger that looks much nicer, plays even better, and features more content than ever before. Yes, when they say 'Deluxe', this time they ruddy well mean it. Not only have the original game’s visuals had a delightful makeover, ditching all traces of jaggy edges for a super slick and sharp new look, but there’s also been all manner of nips, tucks, and improvements to gameplay alongside the addition of two excellent new modes to sink your teeth into. Does Kirby even have teeth?

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

But let’s back up a little here for those amongst us who haven’t yet played the original game. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe sees Kirby and pals come to the rescue of an intergalactic traveller known as Magalor when his ship, the Lor Starcutter, crashes through a wormhole and smashes down onto Planet Popstar. It’s now up to you – and as many as three other players in local co-op – to bound around various 2.5D levels in order to retrieve five missing pieces of Magalor’s craft. Along the way, you’ll use Kirby’s trademark copy abilities to take on a host of colourful foes and do battle with a bunch of classic Kirby bosses.

There are eight worlds in total to float and fight your way through here and they’ve all stood the test of time well, with lots in the way of fun and creativity as you blast through the roughly seven-hour-long campaign. As ever, there’s a wonderful balance struck by HAL Laboratory, making for an adventure that’s plenty entertaining for us older Kirby fans whilst also remaining fully accessible for much younger players to get to grips with. Also, whilst it may only take you around seven hours to blast through this one if you're focusing on the main objective, the 120 energy spheres hidden around levels will easily take that number up into double digits. They're not especially hard to find for the most part, but later areas do possess a few spheres that'll put you to the test.

Whilst the various levels in the game do run the usual gamut of Kirby environments without too many surprises, and although we’ve all been zipped along conveyor belts, made to avoid stomping pistons, and chased by an encroaching wall of black hole energy a million times before (we call that a Monday around these parts), there’s just so much character and colour to Kirby, his pals, and his zany copy ability set. Elements of the game which could be seen as a little dated remain a joy, especially when you team up with a few other players in local co-op where things get properly raucous. Kirby's Return to Dream Land also introduces a bunch of super abilities, five ultra versions of regular copy abilities that you'll get your hands on throughout the game, enabling you to activate screen-shaking variations of your normal attacks in order to wipe out groups of enemies and destroy environments in order to uncover secrets.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Honestly, in returning to this classic style of Kirby action after having so recently been treated to the new-fangled delights of Kirby and the Forgotten Land, we’ve been impressed with just how good the old-school action here holds up. Sometimes there’s just no beating a tried and tested formula. Of course, this deluxe edition isn’t just serving up the 2011 version in its vanilla state with a few graphical bells and whistles. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe brings a bunch of new modes to the table which give the core game a real boost.

Merry Magoland, which is available as soon as you clear the first stage, is a Magic Kingdom-esque amusement park mode which collects together 11 Kirby minigames for you and up to three other players to get stuck into. Of the games on offer, eight have been selected from past Kirby titles, with the likes of Ninja Dojo from the original Return to Dream Land, Kirby on the Draw from Super Star Ultra, and Egg Catcher from Kirby’s Adventure. The three new additions for this deluxe version are Booming Blasters, a chaotic top-down arena shooter, Samurai Kirby 100, a variation on vanilla Samurai Kirby which pits you against online leaderboard times, and Magalor’s Tome Trackers, which charges you with grabbing assigned books off shelves before your opponents.

Taken separately these minigames are pretty throwaway stuff, there's no doubt about that, but bundled together in this wonderfully upbeat and colourful theme park setting, they make for a mode that you can easily spend a lot of time in, besting your own high scores, taking on harder difficulties and having an absolute blast with friends, all the while collecting stamps that unlock some 86 different character masks that Kirby and company can then wear during the main campaign. We’ve yet to try our hand at the online side of Merry Magoland, an online mode which is limited to battling it out against high scores and times, but we reckon there'll be plenty of challenge to return for there once people start posting up ridiculous records for each of the games. Oh, and there’s also a tour mode to get stuck into, allowing you to choose any four minigames at a time to then dive into with your pals, a perfect way to tick off the 100 missions that the game has put together for you to complete across all of the activities on offer.

The other big new addition in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land is Magalor Epilogue: The Interdimensional Traveller, an entirely new mini-campaign — which can be played with up to four players — that you’ll unlock once you’ve beaten the main story for the first time. Here you take control of Magalor as he sets out across four missions, each comprised of four stages and a unique boss battle. We won’t go into too many details here for fear of spoilers for new players, but we were properly impressed by this new mode, it’s a good 90-minute chunk of game time that gives you a bunch of upgradeable new powers to play around with, platinum medals to chase in every stage and, dare we say it, the very best boss battles in the entire game. Yes, they really are that good, a handful of slightly more challenging affairs that put Magalor and his expansive suite of powers to a decent test.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Away from these headline new features and you’ve also got two brand new copy abilities to add to the mix here, Mecha and Sand, both of which fit into the fun perfectly well. Indeed, we reckon Mecha is one of our favourite Kirby abilities thus far, equipping you with powerful lasers, overhead blasters, and multidirectional thrusters to zoom around levels with. Once you've beaten the main story, the returning Extra mode (which has also seen a few surprise tweaks) unlocks alongside The Arena, giving you a challenging new main campaign variant and a boss rush mode to contend with. All of this makes for a Kirby adventure that’s absolutely packed to the gills with content and replayability. Indeed, we’ve beaten the main story, the new epilogue, and had a fair old crack at the minigames so far and our save file is showing us at just 34% completion. That’s a lot of Kirby!

In terms of performance, the whole thing zips along at a super smooth frame rate and the new graphical overhaul here really brings the game up to date, with lots of new environmental details and crisp visuals that look particularly great on the Switch’s OLED screen in handheld mode. It’s not all just fancied-up graphics either. Character models have been updated across the board to align with more recent appearances in the franchise, there’s an easier difficulty setting that sees Helper Magalor get involved, and additional collectibles, such as tickets for Merry Magoland, have been dotted around levels.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

There have also been a few tweaks to core gameplay mechanics thrown in here, too. Kirby can now take souvenir items into campaign stages, a mechanic borrowed from Forgotten Land, so you've always got a backup Maxim Tomato or Copy Ability should you need it, characters can now dodge and air-dodge by holding a direction as they block, and Kirby and pals also now have access to a range of in-game emotes.

In the end, what you've got is one of our all-time favourite Kirby adventures looking and playing better than ever and jam-packed full of excellent new content and modes for fans to get to grips with. The core game has stood the test of time well, it really is quite hard to believe this one is 12 years old already, and the added content — especially with regards to the new epilogue — is honestly worth the price of admission, even if you've already blasted your way through Return to Dream Land countless times before.


Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a fantastic remake of one of our favourite Kirby adventures. With slick new visuals, some meaningful gameplay tweaks and two excellent new modes to dig into, this is a big, loud and colourful celebration of all things Kirby that should delight new and returning players alike. Magalor's Epilogue is a surprisingly chunky addition to the core action that gives the campaign a nice boost, whilst Merry Magoland ensures that you and your pals are kept busy with plenty of minigames, missions and online challenges to best once you're done with the main story mode. It's another win for everyone's favourite pink puffball.