My love affair with Kirby began in 1993 on the NES with Kirby’s Adventure — and even after 17 more games under his non-existent belt; he’s still one fat pink puffball that produces solid games. This brings us to Kirby’s newest adventure on the Wii, but is it worth the wait?
Just like Donkey Kong Country Returns before it, Kirby promises a return to the old school gameplay that made the Kirby series what it is today ‑ but does a return to simplicity mean a better gameplay experience? To put it simply, yes it does. The premise is simple, an alien named Magolor crash lands his ship on planet Pop Star and it’s up Kirby and his friends ‑ King Dedede, Meta Knight and Waddle Dee, who are playable through the multiplayer co-op mode ‑ to repair his ship the Lor Starcutter. For all their help, Magolor promises Kirby and Co. a visit to his home world Halchandra in return.
Controlling Kirby is as easy as ever, the Wii remote is held NES style with jump and suck being your main controls. Performing a super-suck attack is the games only motion control move (thank God!), by shaking the controller up and down. This motion is also used for Kirbys’ super abilities, when he eats the corresponding enemy. On the topic of abilities, most of the series’ classic abilities make a return. There are four new abilities to master; leaf, water, spear and whip. I wish the game had gotten a little creative by revisiting the ability-combining mechanic that made an appearance in Kirby 64.
Hidden gears need to be found in each of the levels that unlock mini-game challenges inside Magolor’s starship. Kirby also collects stars that are scattered around each level that work in the same fashion as coins in Mario games – collect 100 to get an extra life.
The music in the Kirby series has always been something to look forward to and in the latest entry it does not disappoint. Featuring both new and classic tunes, HAL Laboratory really knocked the soundtrack out of the park. The electronic and orchestrated tracks both fit each level appropriately and completely absorb you in the game. One of my earliest memories from Kirby’s Adventure was the sound effect used for when you took a hit; it was the type of sound that you could feel, like a punch to the face. This game continues that tradition with its crisp and vibrant sound effects, not once was I taken out of my element because something sounded out of place.
Return to Dreamland doesn’t push any boundaries graphically, but that’s not to say that the game looks bad, as always with the Kirby series the games environments are bright and cheerful and match perfectly with the atmosphere of the game. Overall the game is cute and the animations are fluid without any slow down. I dare you to not smile like an idiot when Kirby does his “end of stage” dance.
Overall Kirby‘s Return to Dreamland is fairly easy and geared to the younger audience, but delivers a dose of nostalgia for older fans. Add a few more hours to your playtime if you want to find all the collectibles. Once the game is finished an “EX” version of the game unlocks which features the main game with more enemies and less health.
The game is a lot of fun, although towards the end, some of the levels seemed to drag on, but the awesome boss fights more than makes up for this. The game is a testament to the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…just upgrade it.”Note: Kirby's Return to Dream Land was reviewed on Wii. A physical copy of the game was purchased by SelectButton.