By now, Nintendo has brought a large chunk of its most popular and successful games of all time to Switch. Whether you’re talking the enhanced ports like Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD or the collection of emulated classics available through the Nintendo Switch Online subscription tiers, the Switch has rightfully earned its reputation as a place where you can experience both the newest titles from Nintendo, as well as many of its greatest hits. The latest title to time travel to Nintendo’s modern juggernaut system is Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, a 2011 Wii title from HAL Laboratory.
Coming off 2022, which saw perhaps Kirby’s greatest adventure yet (certainly his most popular to date) in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, it makes sense that Nintendo and HAL would want to capitalize on the popularity of the pink puffball. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe brings forward one of Kirby’s most fun games from the past, adding HD visuals, new copy abilities, and more. I had the chance to see this new version of the Wii favorite through a hands-off demo with various members of Nintendo.
The story of Kirby’s Return to Dream Land carries forward in this Deluxe edition: A dimension-hopping alien named Magolor’s ship has crash landed on Kirby’s Planet Popstar, and it’s up to Kirby and friends/frenemies to collect the pieces so Magolor can get home. In Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, players can take control of Kirby, King Dedede, Meta Knight, and Bandana Waddle Dee in a title that supports up to four-player cooperative play. Every character has distinct abilities, but Kirby is perhaps the most exciting character to play as since he can utilize the copy abilities for which he is famous. Thankfully, players don’t need to fight over Kirby, as you can have duplicates.
Speaking of those copy abilities, all the various weapons and moves from the original make the jump to this new version. However, in Deluxe, players can obtain new, powerful abilities that seem like they bring some serious firepower. The new ability I got to see was Kirby’s mecha suit, which lets him use a jetpack to float around and blast enemies with weapons like lasers and rockets. These new powers are available throughout the main game, giving experienced players new ways to engage with the many stages of the older title. Super Abilities like Snow Bowl and Ultra Sword also return, giving you some of the most powerful weapons in Kirby’s arsenal at critical points in the stages.
This time around, players can turn on Magolor Assist, a mode that essentially serves as an easy option. When this is activated, players get two full health bars instead of the standard one. Plus, if you fall into a pit, Magolor will pull you back onto solid ground. The friendly dimension-hopper also helps you out from time to time by bringing you copy abilities or health. If you’re looking for a challenge, fear not, as Deluxe retains EX Story, which essentially offers up a hard mode of the main game after you complete it for the first time.
Also unlocked when you beat the game is Magolor’s Epilogue, a new section of the game where you play as Magolor. Due to his suite of abilities, players can expect gameplay somewhat approximating Mega Man. In this post-game mini-story, you are on a quest to regain Magolor’s abilities after he lost them in his dimensional travels. While Magolor is the only playable character, it still allows for four-player co-op, though every player controls a different Magolor instead of Kirby and his crew. In this mode, a combo meter tracks how the team is doing with dispatching enemies, with platinum medals offered up if you achieve high combos.
As you play through the mode, you slowly unlock more skills for Magolor; the first unlock is the ability for him to throw his Magic Bomb downward. However, you can also use Magic Points to upgrade Magolor’s skills further. Nintendo would not go into how long this epilogue is, but it certainly seems more bite-sized than the original Kirby-centric story.
Outside of these story modes, players can venture into Merry Magoland, which is Deluxe’s place to play the series’ subgames. With 8 of the 10 subgames returning from past titles, players who have a great affection for Kirby will find plenty to enjoy here. In this mode, I get to watch the Nintendo reps show off Kirby on the Draw, which originally appeared in Kirby Super Star Ultra. With various control options available, you can opt for Wii-style pointer controls (which seems like the logical choice for a shooting gallery game like Kirby on the Draw) or go with more traditional stick controls. In Deluxe, Merry Magoland also has two all-new additions, though I did not get to see either of those inclusions in action. I did, however, get to see the new stamp system, which rewards players who complete Magoland challenges with masks their characters can wear in the main game.
Even though I didn’t get my hands on Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, I came away excited to dive back into this exciting adventure from the Wii days. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land was one of my favorite games in the franchise prior to Forgotten Land, so I can’t wait to have another excuse to play it with new enhancements and more than a decade of separation from my last outing.
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Kirby's Return To Dream Land Deluxe
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