HAL Laboratory executive director Shinya Kumazaki and Kirby series director Tatsuya Kamiyama recently took the stage at GDC to discuss the challenges and stories of their developed games for the franchise’s 30th anniversary. While we already detailed their breakdown of Kirby and the Forgotten Land, they also spent half their runtime discussing Kirby Return to Dream Land Deluxe, and used it to demonstrate some of their tricks and goals in developing 2D Kirby titles.
It took a long time to get to Return to Dream Land, with HAL spending basically all of the ’00s working on different game experiments that didn’t get anywhere until the fourth go-around. This is in part because of Kirby’s goal as a franchise, to make an approachable, yet deep game with “controls that feel right” – ones that don’t necessarily match players’ precise inputs but rather what the player intends to do. For example, pressing A just after running off a ledge will cause Kirby to jump anyway, and his hurtbox is repositioned to be below his head’s hitbox while jumping (which they amusingly call ‘pompadour detection’). Like in Forgotten Land, the team had to employ tricks to make titles more beginner-friendly.
Return to Dream Land Deluxe also brought its own unique additions – the devs experimented with various outlines styles and also developed an in-house tool to move backgrounds to help make visual information clearer. They also developed Merry Magoland as a place to take breaks and relax in the living room with friends or family, following the series ideal of comfortable fun. The character design process for Magolor himself was also shown, the devs pointing out which core aspects of Kirby design he needed to follow and which elements gave him individual flair – they even show a few beta Magolor designs, one of which notably looks like President Haltmann from Kirby: Planet Robobot.
They finish by detailing the addition of the Magolor Epilogue, and how its character enhancement of Magolor both ties into its story well while offering great depth and challenge than the main game. But even here, there are little touches to help the player – when comboing, the hitboxes of Magolor’s attacks will swell, making it easier to keep combos going. You can really see their commitment to controls that “feel right” and the “approachable yet deep” ethos.
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is out now.
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