Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe Adds a New Epilogue and New Subgames, and We’ve Seen Them in ActionGames Features kirby
Later this month Kirby returns to Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, and if a recent demonstration by Nintendo is any indication, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is shaping up to be a worthwhile upgrade on the Wii game. Originally released near the end of the Wii’s lifecycle, well after the fad had died down, Return to Dream Land went through a long and tumultuous development period on its way to bringing traditional Kirby platforming back after a decade-long absence. It’s now been over a decade again since its release, so there’s probably a whole new crop of Kirby fans who’ve never played it before. And for the old Kirby heads, the grizzled vets who have poured decades into Kirby’s unending adorable war, it arrives with a variety of updates and additional content that should freshen things up. Here’s what we learned during that demo.
Unsurprisingly, the main game appears very faithful to the original. A side-scrolling platformer with co-op multiplayer for up to four players, you’ll play as Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, or Bandana Waddle Dee. Each character has its own unique weapon and abilities, with Kirby’s traditional power-copying skill perhaps the most useful of all. If a player dies, they can immediately drop back in, although it eats up a life from a communal pool. Occasionally when an enemy is defeated with a special attack it’ll careen towards the camera and seemingly shatter your TV screen, a la Super Smash Bros; it’s a clever little visual touch, although perhaps a little at odds with the achingly cute aesthetic that defines the game. The core game remains a recognizable version of itself, although with the kinds of technical updates you’d expect 12 years after its original release.
There are two main reasons people who played the original might want to return to Dream Land again, and they both heavily involve the game’s villain, Magolor. The floating magical space cat has its own amusement park in the new Dream Land, with 10 multiplayer subgames. Merry Magoland looks fun and festive with its carnival-style layout, and while visiting your character can wear masks of other characters and enemies. You want your Kirby to look like Whispy Woods? Now’s your chance. The minigames include eight classic Kirby subgames and two brand new ones, and during the demo they showed off a shooting gallery game called Kirby on the Draw. Placards with Kirby characters drawn in old west garb pop up or slide by and up to four players have to shoot them, using their Switch Joycon to point and click like a Wii remote. It probably won’t be that fun alone, but it’s sure to entertain a group of friends, the younger the better.
Merry Magoland is a charming addition to the ol’ game, but the most important update is the new epilogue focusing on Magolor. Accessible after finishing the main story, in the epilogue you play as Magolor as he tries to recover from his defeat. It looks like its own standalone platformer, with Magolor having his own unique abilities and sense of motion. He doesn’t float as dramatically as Kirby can, but there does seem to be a bit of sustain to his jump, and he has a dedicated shooting button that the Nintendo employee running the demo compared to Mario’s fireball. The combat here is combo-based; the more times you hit your opponents in a row without taking a hit, the more magic you recover when you beat them. You can build up that combo a lot faster if you’re playing a multiplayer game, but it also increases the chances that somebody will get hit by an enemy and the combo streak will end. Magolor will unlock new magical abilities throughout the game, and has a skill tree where you can upgrade his skills with the magic points you collect. Magolor also has a much shorter health bar than Kirby and pals have in the main game; between the lower health and the difficulty of maintaining that combo streak, this will presumably present a greater challenge Return to Dream Land.
The Magolor epilogue looks like it could’ve been the foundation of its own standalone game, but since it’s attached to the remaster of Dream Land it probably won’t have the length of a full game. It looks like a Bowser’s Fury situation: a lightly experimental take on a well-established Nintendo series that isn’t a full game in its own right, but a relatively short value-add to a remaster that might not otherwise appeal to people who already played the original. It doesn’t seem like the smartest decision to unlock it only after all of Return to Dream Land’s story has been played; anybody who’s already played the Wii version might want to jump right into the new business, and they should have that option. Despite that weird choice, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe seems like an example of a remaster done right—one that doesn’t just make an older game look nicer, but adds enough tweaks and new content to make it worth revisiting for anybody who’s already played it. It comes out on Feb. 24, so we won’t have to wait long to see. And if you want to try the main game out yourself, a demo is now available on the Switch as of today.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.