Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Review for Nintendo Wii (Wii)

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Review for Nintendo Wii (Wii)

Dream Land, Just How Wii Remember It

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land is the newest Kirby Game for the Wii and the first classic Kirby adventure we’ve been able to play on a console since the Nintendo 64. There are no strings, no paint, and no pinball machines here; Kirby is called upon to inhale his enemies and copy their powers as he makes his way through level after level, just like the old days. It’s refreshing to see Kirby doing what he does best, and with the Wii soon to be cycled out for the Wii U, we need a couple more solid titles to see the best-selling system of this generation out.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land begins when a mysterious alien visitor crash lands on the star-shaped planet, and pieces of his ship are scattered to the four—or five, in this case—corners of the world. Kirby, being the bright and happy storybook character that he is, decides to help this visitor find them again.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Screenshot

As you would expect, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land plays like a classic 2D Kirby game, so the basic formula is pretty simple. Kirby can inhale enemies and spit them out as projectiles, or swallow them to copy their powers. In this game, however, Kirby can also perform a Super Inhale—accomplished by shaking the Wiimote—allowing him to suck in objects much bigger than himself, or even multiple enemies at once. When you spit enemies out after a Super Inhale, they become enormous rotating stars that continue to travel forward through enemies and blocks until they fly off the edge of the screen. These stars become bigger the more enemies that you inhale at once. Suck up enough enemies and your projectile will take up nearly half the screen and knock off huge chunks of a boss’s life meter.

Of course, any Kirby fan knows that the majority of the time, you aren’t simply inhaling enemies and spiting them out; you are using their powers against them. Power management in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land is a lot of fun. The game takes a cue from Kirby Super Star by including tons of powers to copy: 20 in all. Also like Kirby Super Star, each power comes with a variety of different attacks mapped to different directions on the D-pad—dashing, pressing a button and holding it to charge, etc.—making each individual power quite versatile. You can get powers either from enemies or simply by touching a power star that is lying around, which is very similar to the power trophies from Super Star as well.

However, the coolest thing about the powers in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land is that many of the older powers of the series have been combined. For example, in the past Kirby has had Blaze, which allowed him to become a fireball that blew through enemies, and Fire, which allowed him to breathe fire as an attack. The new version of Fire allows him to breathe fire like normal, but he can also activate a blaze dash in the middle of a dash or a dash jump. In addition, Kirby can also light himself on fire to form a fire shield, and drop flaming napalm drops after an aerial blaze dash.

Other powers have been combined as well. Electricity and Plasma have been combined in Spark, which both generates an electric shield and shoots projectiles that increase in power depending on how many different directions you have pushed. The whip can also grab enemies, allowing Kirby to do some of his trademark Suplex throws. Spike now allows you to speed forward in a spiked ball dash, which operates very similar to Kirby’s old Wheel power. There are many more powers than that, and nearly every old power from every old Kirby game has been represented in some way.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Screenshot

New to this game are super enemies, which are basically flashing enemies with better versions of normal powers. Swallowing one of them will grant you a Super Ability for a limited period of time. Super Abilities are hugely exaggerated versions of normal powers. For example, the Super Sword lets you swing a cleaver that is almost the size of the screen. The Super Fire lets you summon a fire dragon that burns everything across the screen in a line. The Super Beam lets you control a swirling ball of death remotely. And so on.

Now, the carnage caused by these Super Abilities is fun in itself, but the real purpose of most of them is to find a hidden “black hole” in each stage. Jumping into a black hole will put Kirby in a mini-stage, where an encroaching wall of blackness is constantly chasing him. If he manages to get to the end, he will receive his choice of two powers and will then have to fight a mini-boss. Defeating a mini-boss yields you two energy spheres, the main collectibles of the game.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Screenshot

The game is actually pretty easy. Kirby has a lot of health, health pickups and 1-ups are plentiful, and every time you pick up 100 stars you get another life (and you easily can get 30 from the goal mini-game at the end of each stage). He even has his standard power-ups like the Invincibility Candy, as well as a brand new array of holdable weapons that he can use in addition to his powers, like a rapid-fire cannon, a shield that covers his head, and even Kuribo’s Shoe from Super Mario Bros. 3. But the real challenge is getting the energy spheres that are hidden behind black holes and power-based puzzles that can take multiple playthroughs to get right.

But you aren’t just collecting energy spheres for the sake of a 100% completion stamp. Collecting the spheres opens up new options in your home base, the crashed alien ship. Here you will find special challenge levels, rooms filled with Power Stars so you can pick and choose which power to enter a level with, and even motion control minigames that serve as neat little diversions if the platforming gets too repetitive.

The real draw of this game, however, is the cooperative multiplayer. While it has some flaws, it’s easily one of the most fun Kirby co-op modes yet. The first thing you have to realize is that Player 1’s Kirby, the pink Kirby, is the most important Kirby in the game. If he dies, it’s game over. The camera will follow this Kirby, and every other player will simply teleport to him if they fall off the screen. Players can share health by touching each other after picking up a life. Everyone shares lives from the same pool, although anyone besides Player 1 can spawn infinitely as long as Pink Kirby is alive. So Player 1 is the leader; remember that.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Screenshot

Once you get that through your head, co-op is pretty fun. Players 2, 3, and 4 can choose to control another Kirby or one of Kirby’s friends: Meta Knight, who has the power of the sword, DeDeDe, who has the power of the hammer, and Waddle Dee, who has the power of the spear. Each of these characters has an array of unique abilities as well. The upside to these characters is that they don’t lose their powers when hit, but the downside is that they can’t copy any other powers in the game. If this doesn’t appeal to you, you can also choose to play as a different colored Kirby with access to all the same abilities a Kirby has (Copying, Super Inhaling, etc.) Players can even piggyback on each other to make getting through the level easier and to perform combination attacks between all the characters. Overall, this co-op play is fun, but it does make the game a whole lot easier. Nearly any puzzle can be solved by having one of your buddies with the right power activate a trigger while you run to enter a door or grab an item. In the end, the timed rush and difficult puzzle-solving elements of having a single Kirby simply disappear when you have a group of four.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land is pretty much the exact Kirby game we all wanted. Sure, his animal companions aren’t involved (seriously, Nintendo, bring them back), but the same gameplay that made Kirby Super Star so much fun back in the 90s is present and accounted for. Add a whole bunch of powers, a fun cooperative multiplayer, and an inexpensive price tag, and you have a recipe for a great Kirby game. This is a fine game to see the Wii out on, or at least hold us over until Skyward Sword comes out next month. If you are a Kirby fan, you simply won’t want to miss out on this one.

The Wii is certainly starting to show its age at this point, but for a 2D platformer, it still gets the job done. 3.9 Control
The controls are solid. Double tapping to run is annoying, but otherwise the controls fit just fine. 2.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Let’s face it, Kirby’s shrieks are annoying, and the cutscenes in this game don’t even have any sound effects. The sound could have been much better. 4.8 Play Value
This game is just good clean Kirby fun, no matter how you slice it. 4.4 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Kirby’s powerful Copy Ability returns, allowing him to inhale, spit, and transform as he encounters enemies.
  • Players can deploy classic and new abilities, including Sword: Kirby dons a green cap and wields a sword, Beam: Kirby wears a jester hat and can shoot energy from a magic wand, Whip: Kirby wears a cowboy hat and can lasso enemies, and Leaf: Kirby is surrounded by a whirlwind of leaves.
  • The game also introduces new Super Abilities, which are activated when Kirby inhales special enemy characters. For example, the “Super Sword” Super Ability allows Kirby to swing a giant sword and wipe out an entire screen’s worth of foes.
  • Up to four players can enjoy the action together. (Additional controllers required and sold separately.) They play cooperatively to progress through the game and collect Point Stars and Ability Stars. Players can join and leave the game at any time.

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