In just a few weeks one of Kirby’s best adventures of all is making a comeback. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is giving the fan-favorite Wii game another chance to shine like the star it is, and everything I’ve seen so far has me excited.
As a lifelong fan of the series and Nintendo Wire’s resident Kirby Curator, I had the pleasure of previewing the upcoming remake via a hands-off demo. Everything I adored about the original Return to Dream Land is alive and well, with new features sprinkled in, particularly with respect to a certain blue-robed cosmic wizard.
For the unaware, Return to Dream Land’s main gameplay hook comes from it allowing up to four player co-op. Everyone can be a Kirby, but Bandana Dee, Meta Knight, and King Dedede are all fully playable characters. Seeing the crew working their way through familiar stages brought a smile to my face immediately, and the new visual style works nicely for the game’s dreamy environments.
Another big part of Return to Dream Land was the return to a vast array of copy abilities, each with fleshed out movesets. Deluxe is taking things further by introducing two brand-new abilities to the series. Sand Kirby didn’t make an appearance despite this preview taking place at the beachside Onion Ocean, but Mecha Kirby made a strong impression. It looks to be a versatile and powerful ability, with its pause menu moveset being spread across five pages of techniques. This included laser beams, bombs, spark balls, and powerful fists; all wrapped up in a legally distinct from Gundam package.
Now, the original return to Dream Land introduced Magolor to the series. Since then he’s become a recurring fixture, becoming playable in Star Allies and moonlighting as a Gem Apple shopkeep in the Super Kirby Clash games. Here he not only serves his original role as the driving force of the game’s plot, has a new job thanks to the new Helper Magolor feature.
This toggleable assist will have him rescue characters from any unexpected falls, doubles everyone’s life bars for even more survivability, and during boss fights he’ll also deliver food and copy abilities. While it’s no New Funky Mode™, at least he’s no longer just hanging out at the Lor Starcutter while Kirby and friends do all the work.
That’s not all Magolor’s doing these days, though. As an added endeavor and all-new chunk of gameplay, he’s opened a sub game filled theme park! Merry Magoland didn’t get a whole lot of focus in the demo session, but some new details did shine through.
For one, the amusement park themed menu will actually change as you play through the main game. Defeating bosses will add them to the area in themed ways. For example, defeating Raisin Ruins’ (incredibly named) Mr. Dooter will cause him to take up residence as Magoland’s juggler. Actually playing the games will fuel the previously announced Stamp Rally cards, as well as 100 missions tied to each.
Completing those objectives will unlock masks from Souvenir Shop Waddle Dee. The few that could be seen during the preview included my beloved Rick, Coo, and Kine; as well as the previously mentioned Mr. Dooter. The most interesting bit was that some of the masks will include other, non-visual touches. Wearing the Waddle Dee mask actually changes the various sounds that your character makes, for example, and I’m looking forward to unlocking every last one to see which others get a similar treatment.
When it comes to the ten sub games themselves, only Super Star Ultra’s Kirby on the Draw was demoed. This one can be played in multiple ways depending on your Switch configuration of choice and/or multiplayer setup. It’s possible to play with a single Joy-Con vertically, pointing at the pop-up targets, but also via touch controls similarly to the original version of the sub game. How this flexibility could fit into the others remains to be seen, but each and every one of them can be played with up to four players just like the core RtDL experience.
Though this was just a brief view of Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, it’s enough to give me even further confidence in the remake. In a post Forgotten World…world, a more “straightforward” Kirby game might come off as plain. Thankfully it’s a game that was so enjoyable the first time around, and distinct from other Kirby games currently on the Switch. And hey, who wouldn’t want to put their faith in this much Magolor?
You can pre-order Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe now, and look forward to its release on February 24th!
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