Kirby's Return to Dreamland Deluxe Doesn't Need to Reinvent a Nintendo Classic

Inverse Score: 8/10

Written by Steven Asarch

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe feels oddly familiar even if you’ve never played the original release for the Wii back in 2011. Floating through the massive trees of Cookie Country, dodging spiky Gordos by one pixel, and sucking up swordsmen to complete a rope puzzle, Dream Land Deluxe feels so much like other Kirby titles you’ve played over years.

Bouncing through the level, sucking up enemies, and blasting blocks with other blocks are woven into the fluffball’s DNA. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the Game Boy Advance or the Nintendo Switch, the mainline games all have you doing the same sucking and running that’s as compelling of a gameplay loop as anything.

Platformers at large have evolved quite a bit since the mid-aughts, however. And so has Kirby. Last year’s Kirby and the Forgotten Land proves that you can take the round boy out of the second dimension to create one of the best games of the past decade. So a remaster of a forgotten Wii title feels a bit like a step backward, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Kirby’s tight gameplay, absolutely phenomenal level design, and extra modes make this remaster worth picking up.

Kirby is the One

The game starts with our pink protagonist enjoying a lovely day on Planet PopStar until a starship crashes nearby. The ship’s bad driver, Magolor, tasks you with finding the five pieces of his ship to help him return home. But it was all a nasty trick so that Magolar could steal the magic from a dragon’s crown, compelling Kirby to team up with the dragon for some old-fashioned revenge.

There are seven stages in total in the main game, each offering quality platforming and puzzles. White Wafers has you slipping around in the snow. Onion Ocean has you dodging giant eels that have a taste for your head. In each level, you’ll need to suck up certain enemies to gain one of 24 powers that help you complete certain puzzles. For example, grabbing a hammer enemy allows you to slam down a peg and break the blocks underneath.

Here’s a look at those five missing pieces of the ship.


There are also “super” power-ups at the end of some levels that deliver an awe-inspiring new power fantasy, at least until the timer runs out. The first time I grabbed a super sword power-up and summoned a blade larger than the screen to attack every enemy, my jaw dropped. Finding each new power in every stage and figuring out how to use it to solve that stage’s puzzle offers just enough of a challenge.

Dream Land Deluxe also introduces a new mecha ability that might be one of the best in the entire franchise. It can shoot arcing fireballs, glide through the air with jets, drop bombs, and use an electrified punch. The wide array of elemental abilities gives you an upper edge during the harder boss fights.

These abilities are what makes Kirby games so fun and unique. Choosing different power-ups to clear levels or solve puzzles makes you feel like an all-powerful god (more than Kirby already is).

But if you need a little bit more help, you can play the game co-op with up to four players. King Dedede can swing his hammer, Meta Knight shoots with his sword, and Waddle Dee wields a deadly spear. All you need is a single Joy-con to control an ally and they can drop out at any moment. Though I only dabbled with this feature, it does seem like a lot of fun and could help with some of the later levels. I wasted too much time having Meta Knight give Kirby a piggyback ride.

Kirby and his crew.


So Many Modes

The main story is just the beginning. There are multiple other modes and mini-games that shake up how you play. Head to Merry Magoland to play some mini-games in a theme park that houses 10 games ripped directly from other Kirby games. Most can be played with multiple people, allowing you to feel the hectic energy of a Mario Party scuffle with a totally different cast of characters.

There are also a ton of collectibles to distract you from rushing through the campaign. Each stage has gears you can find, which unlock mini-games and ability puzzles on Magalor’s ship. Defeating bosses and completing other certain challenges might also grant you a mask.

In New Game+ you can fight endless bosses or tackle the Magolor Epilogue, which is exclusive to this re-release and tasks you with collecting tears as Magolor.

Behold the Magalor Epilogue.

Upgrading him from a single-attack weakling to a force to be reckoned with is interesting. Whatever modest amount of fun that’s had here pales in comparison to the main game. Magolor’s levels are far more difficult and require pinpoint platforming, but that makes it a fun challenge for the diehards.

Overall, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a fine remaster of an incredibly tight platformer. It may not have the same scope or energy as Kirby and the Forgotten Land, but it doesn’t need to. If you want a solid Kirby game for your Switch and don’t mind some of the lackluster add-on modes, then Kirby is worth a shot.


Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe will be released for the Nintendo Switch on February 24, 2023

INVERSE VIDEO GAME REVIEW ETHOS: Every Inverse video game review answers two questions: Is this game worth your time? Are you getting what you pay for? We have no tolerance for endless fetch quests, clunky mechanics, or bugs that dilute the experience. We care deeply about a game’s design, world-building, character arcs, and storytelling. Inverse will never punch down, but we aren’t afraid to punch up. We love magic and science-fiction in equal measure, and as much as we love experiencing rich stories and worlds through games, we won’t ignore the real-world context in which those games are made.
Related Tags