Well, folks, it’s been a long time comin’, but we’ve finally got another Kirby title to indulge in. What’s that? Didn’t Mass Attack just come out? Well, yes it did. Not to mention Epic Yarn not too, too long ago. Ok, ok – so, Kirby’s had it pretty good lately as far as new releases go. We’ve seen him quite a bit. Take a look at the bigger picture, however, and the “Super Tuff Pink Puff” has been MIA in a sense for quite some time now.
After all, where’s the headgear? The signature inhale move? The large assortment of stolen Copy Abilities? Super Star Ultra and Squeak Squad (the last two traditional Kirby games) aside, Kirby’s last console outing was eleven long years ago. It’s enough to make a Kirby fan weep…
Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s no stretch to say that Kirby fans have been pining for a return to the good ol’ days and Kirby’s tried and true ways. Well, the wait’s over. Kirby’s back to normal, and he’s better than ever. Return to Dream Land, which has been on shelves now for almost three weeks, is nothing short of what Kirby fans have been waiting and wishing for ever since those old screenshots and videos appeared back in the Gamecube era (remember those?).
It’s got headgear, it’s got varied Copy Abilities, and it’s got co-op! As is standard Nintendo fare, co-op isn’t integral to the core gameplay, but rather a fun sort of add-on meant to enrich the experience even further. As the image above should imply, additional players follow along as Meta Knight, King Dedede, a spear-wielding, bandana-wearing Waddle-Dee, or…a Kirby clone, if you just can’t stand being tied to one fighting style.
Oh, and speaking of fighting style, Copy Abilities have that Super Star flair once again – a welcome comeback. There’s enormous variety in the way the game can be played because every ability has a vast number of different moves that can be pulled off depending on button timing and Kirby’s movement. Sword Kirby, for example, can swing his sword with a press of the ! button. Repeated taps produce a barrage of sword swipes, culminating in one final, powerful slash. Pressing the D-Pad up and hitting 1 produces a jumping thrust with the blade, while pressing down and 1 sends Kirby crashing into the ground below, sword first. There’s a sword beam for long range attacks at full health – and every ability is like this. There are also new “Super Abilities” which pop up every now and then which have the ability to alter and destroy Kirby’s surroundings.Talk about variety.
It’s that variety that makes Kirby’s Return to Dream Land appealing to casual newcomers and skilled gamers alike. The game can be breezed through up until the end, and abilities’ basic moves can defeat any foe. However, learning every Copy Ability’s moves and utilizing them to their fullest adds considerable depth to the game, and certainly helps in the later worlds when things get pretty dicey, even for skilled players. Add in the collecting aspect of the game (retrieving lost “Energy Spheres”) and the ability-specific challenge rooms which force players to utilize a Copy Ability’s entire moveset, and it’s clear that there’s a load of content here to keep players busy.
There’s a ton to do, its appeal is broad, and it’s a Kirby we’ve not seen in far too long. Top it off with a soundtrack heavily inspired by Kirby Air Ride, Super Star, and Kirby 64, and this game is a total success. There’s honestly not a whole heck of a lot to gripe about. If you’ve played Kirby before, you know what you’re getting yourself into, and that’s really the only complaint – it’s very similar to other Kirby games. But, that was the idea behind the whole thing. It’s been so long since we had a simple, yet complex, “traditional” Kirby title, that this is just what the doctor ordered. Then again, if you’re new to the series in general, then this game is the perfect crash course, with co-op serving as a potential handicap for newcomers. Kirby’s back, so let’s show the little guy the love he deserves.
Graphics: This is no Twilight Princess or Mario Galaxy, but the visuals are colorful, vibrant, and smooth. Kirby’s never looked better.
Sound: The soundtrack is catchy and reminiscent of previous installments in the series. Sound effects are a nostalgic blend of old and new.
Gameplay: Loads of variety to suit every type of gamers’ wants and needs. Additional challenges will push completionists’ skills. Similarity to previous titles could turn a select few off..