This is the first traditional Kirby game on a home console since 2001. We had Air Ride, a racing game, and Epic Yarn, a yarn styled game which was very easy, a bit too easy. But this game blows you away. How? Initially, I thought it started off slow, and a bit cookie cutter. But after you play it for a while, you realize how intricate the game gets. Revisiting levels to find hidden items, unlocking tons of extra content, and really fun and creative gameplay, keep you playing this game for hours. The graphics IMO are great. While they aren't deep and intricate, they're fun and inviting, and look pretty good on Wii. The sound is a bit suppressed, akin to the Gamecube's earlier games like Melee, but is still fun, cool music to listen to as you play. As for the unlockables, tons of fun, and you'll be trying to unlock them all. I only play multiplayer, its the way to go for this game. Plus, you can die, and some boss fights will have a bit of a challenge, but aren't very hard for experienced gamers.
All in all, Kirby's Return to Dream Land has turned out to be one of the best in the series, and if you're looking for a new game on Wii (who isn't), definitely pick this game up!
Return to Dreamland does everything right, but it does not excel at anything
20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Almost, but not quite"
In the midst of the recent Kirby revival started by Nintendo, we have seen the charming pink ball go through some rather exotic transformations that nearly turned the series on its head. On Canvas curse, Kirby lost not only his ability to rob enemies of their powers, but also his limbs, making him lose the biggest part of his functional mobility; on Epic Yarn he still lacked his traditional sucking skill, but he gained a fast yarn whip to deal with cloth enemies; finally, Mass Attack brought back the enemy gulping, but divided the character into one wacky ten-unity army that swarmed enemies like a pink and more cuddly Pikmin squad. After this rodeo of quirkiness, Nintendo decided it was about time they went back to basics by crafting a Kirby game that aside from looking like a traditional puffball platformer, also played precisely like one. And that is what Kirby's Return to Dreamland is: a smart return to form that feels like a warm homecoming that is made even sweeter by the fact that you have been away from it for so long.
As it appears, strolling through Dreamland has become increasingly dangerous on the past few months, for once again – when having fun with Dedede, Meta Knight and Waddle Dee – Kirby puts himself in a complicated position when they witness a damaged ship fall in a nearby location and the gang decides to take it upon themselves to help the poor alien life form that is inside whose damaged ship has lost five parts. From that point on you know the drill, it is up to you to find the five pieces that are properly guarded by bosses waiting for you at the end of distinct worlds. In total, the game features eight worlds, eight bosses and around forty stages that range from being as easy as pie to as soft as cotton candy. There is some challenge here and there, especially if players are looking to locate the not-so-hidden 120 power spheres scattered through the stages, but the joy of playing a Kirby game is not overcoming a hardship, but being delighted by the straightforward nature of this platformer and enjoying the ride up to the end. Anyone who cannot enjoy a game devoid of major ordeals, will most likely not be engaged by this game – or any Kirby titles for that matter.
The game plays pretty much on the same way that the original Kirby's Adventure, from the very early nineties, did. Kirby is one slow floaty character who has the ability to suck enemies up and steal their abilities in order to destroy other foes or to advance through a specific part of a level, which allows for some nicely varied stage-design opportunities. All of the conventional abilities are here: Kirby can turn into a rock, gain electrical powers, become one spiky ball, spit fire or ice, throw bombs, fly, spin around creating a tornado, wield a sword, use a boomerang, carry a whip, turn into a ninja, sleep, punch, kick and do a few other things. There are even some instances where you acquire super powered versions of some of those abilities to create even more mayhem around the level destroying everything in your path with the press of a button, and – in the gaming world - there are not many activities that top the satisfaction of causing so much destruction in a level.
If Mario sidescrollers are generally considered family games, the Kirby games take that concept to an even more extreme level, because not only are they easier for kids to succeed, but they also beat Mario on the cuteness factor. Kirby's Return to Dreamland takes advantage of that and, in the spirit of New Super Mario Bros Wii, brings a cooperative mode where Kirby, Meta Knight, Dedede and Waddle Dee work together to get to the end of the levels – with Kirby obviously being the only one who is able to copy abilities. It blatantly makes things much easier than they already are, but while it loses on the challenge department, this multiplayer option clearly beats the lonely single-player mode in terms of laughs and hilarious moments. If there is one thing to complain about regarding this option, is the fact that if the leading players falls to his doom, the team automatically returns to the end of the area they find themselves in; and if that happens with no lives left, everybody has to start the whole level again, while if somebody else had died, nothing would have happened and that player would come back to the action. It makes things unbalanced and puts extra pressure on whoever is leading the way, which goes against the family fun purpose of the whole mode.
At the end of the adventure there is still plenty to get out of the game. It comes packed with nice extras such as another Story Mode where Kirby has his energy bar nearly cut in half, adding some of the challenge that regular adventure lacks so strongly; some amazing challenges featuring some of Kirby's special powers and cleverly set obstacle courses that test your abilities with some of the character's most unique powers and some nice multiplayer mini-games that are more than perfect for when you and your friends are looking to take a break from the pace of the standard adventure. Like it happens in all Kirby games, Return to Dreamland has a lot of content to up its replay value.
Finding fault in Kirby's Return to Dreamland is a hard task. It is game with good level design, a large set of enemies, good graphics – bland backgrounds, but great character models, catchy little songs, fun multiplayer, decent scenario variety, engaging boss battles and compelling collectibles. The fact that makes it stand a few notches below other equally good Wii sidescrollers is the fact that while it doesn't do anything woefully wrong, it doesn't do anything wonderfully right either. It is a game that doesn't innovate, rarely surprises and hardly does anything new or different. Being a long awaited revival of the traditional Kirby formula quietly clouds the lack of excellence that can be found throughout the game. In the end, Kirby's Return to Dreamland just does not mesmerize, it simply does its job of entertaining for ten hours and then proceeds to leave the stage for a few applauses from the crowd. It walks on a very safe line, and as a Kirby platformer it does what it is supposed to do, but when put in the light of comparison to Donkey Kong Country Returns and even Kirby's Epic Yarn, it falls short.
Check out this game, it brings back the old school formula which made the Kirby Series famous!
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
Game: Kirby's Return to Dreamland
System: Nintendo Wii
Total Score: 85/100
Value Score: 8.5/10
• Story: 7/10
o Kirby's Return to Dreamland starts off as Kirby gets chased by King Dedede and a Waddle Dee, while being chased a warp hole appeared and out came a ship that crashed landed but had 5 parts broken and spread apart across Pop Star. Kirby and friends (which includes Meta Knight) go into the ship and meet a new character. They pledge to help him retrieve the ship parts so he can go back to his homeland. Kirby goes throughout pop star and eventually into another world with his friends, however a much darker scheme is hidden within the lighthearted storyline of this game. Most fans will be kind of neutral on this aspect of the game because it really doesn't bring anything new but unlike the Mario series which puts some changes into the storyline, this storyline is mostly a cut and paste from a previous Kirby game, which one, fans will know as soon as they get further into the game.
• Characters: 8/10
o Not many new characters have been introduced to this storyline, unlike Kirby Epic Yarn, Return to dreamland brings back many nostalgic enemies and characters from previous Kirby games of old such as Adventure, Dreamland series and the Super Star series. In terms of character development, there isn't much development other than the already playable characters who's histories predates anything before the year 2000. Even the new antagonist is a rip off of a old character, however there are about 2-3 new bosses which are a welcomed edition and along with that a few new enemies.
• GamePlay: 10/10
o Return to Dreamland's gameplay is more similar to the older Kirby games rather than recent ones such as Epic Yarn or Crystal Shards. The game includes the normal jumping, flying, swimming and swallowing abilities, the ability to copy enemy attacks and powers, and a one up system which can easily be abused but isn't worth mentioning due to the difficulty of the game being just right. Players this time around however will be able to connect together up to 4 playable characters to assist each other in the game rather than the traditional one player or two player game (in other words, co-op is similar to New Super Mario Bros. Wii if you have played that). You have a energy bar similar to recent Kirby games and Super Star which is a plus and instead of losing abilities at first hit, you might lose a ability based on a enemy skill or more hits you take along the way. Players will go through about 7 different levels with about 4-5 stages in each level. There is a boss battle at the end of each level, in terms of mini boss fights, there are more mini boss fights in this game than almost all of the Kirby games put together (except for probably Super Star). Along with that there are similar features from Kirby Super Star such as the inclusion of mini games which in this game include Scope Shooter which is a FPS type mini game and Ninja Dojo which tests your precision and aiming skills to the max. Players will also have access to additional stages within the ship and additional challenges.
• Graphics: 10/10
o Nintendo outdone themselves this generation, not only did they make incredible graphics for their Mario Galaxy games but they've made amazing graphics for this game as well. The graphic lighting and textures reminds you of the adventures you had when playing DKC Returns. Pretty much the game looks EXACTLY like it in some parts, its hard to NOT notice the similarities, but of course its not a bad thing as DKC Returns' graphics were amazing. If playing this game on a HD, it would look amazing, gorgeous art and sprites, Nintendo outshined themselves on a installment of a game that usually does not focus on graphics.
• Sound: 10/10
o The sound effects in Return to Dreamland are vivid and lively, not too loud nor too quiet. Each sound effect is detailed and none of the old sound effects from previous games sound bad at all, infact seems like Nintendo REMADE the sound effects rather than recycling it like on their other game franchises. Possibly the best sounding game since DKC Returns.
• Music: 10/10
o Another good aspect which Nintendo has been working on the most in the recent years is music. Nintendo provided a orchestral set of songs for Super Mario Galaxy, however the music in Return to Dreamland may not be orchestrated quality, the good quality is still there though. A lot of old tunes are remixed nicely in this game, many players will easily tell a lot of their favorite tracks from previous games in this game.
• Length: 3/10
o This is probably where the game falls short, the length of this game is no more than 6 hours at the best. One of the shortest games ever made for this generation and even for the entire Kirby series. Although it falls short on this aspect, the game more than likely makes a come back in Replay Value.
• Replay Value: 8/10
o Return to Dreamland features a large set of features which are good Replay options for the player who has finished the game. The game features a extra mode which is instantly unlocked as soon as you beat the main storyline, pretty much what this is that players will play the game again however the enemies and bosses will hit a lot more than before. Other than that, you've got extra stages which can be unlocked by collecting gear spheres, you will also unlock some mini games and a arena mode where you will fight mini bosses and bosses. Although the game mimics as much from Kirby Super Star, it does not contain the heavy replay value content from the game. Regardless this is one of the reasons why you would want to get this game as it gives a pretty decent replay value for a game that came out this generation. You also have access to the OST and to the Theater section which can show you the movie scenes.
• Player Value: 9/10
o Overall, Return to Dreamland is a good game with a few flaws, one being the length of the game was too short. They could of made more stages in the worlds, as some levels only had 3-4 stages. They could of added more mini games considering the fact that there are more than enough different type of mini games they could of brought back. Difficulty wise its perfect as the game gets more and more difficult as you progress into the game, not as harsh as DKC Returns thankfully. This game is definitely one to get, if you are introducing the world of video gaming to a child, this game is recommended. Fans of the Kirby series will be satisfied all in all, especially after experiencing the failed attempt that was Kirby Epic Yarn.
Once you return to Dreamland, you won't want to leave.
40 to 100 Hours
The Bottom Line:
*Note: No time was spent with co-op.
2011 has been quite some year. As well as some great releases, plenty of games have re-emerged from development hell, such as L.A. Noire and (the very sad) Duke Nukem Forever. Adding to the list of games returning from these seemingly infinite cycles of development was Kirby's Return to Dreamland for Wii. Originally started on the GameCube around 2003, it was delayed to the point of assumed cancellation, but fortunately has returned! However, was it worth the wait?
It's a normal day in Dreamland, and Kirby is with his frienemies; King Dedede, Meta Knight, and some random Waddle Dee (he has a bandanna!). While on a picnic, however, a strange ship crashes nearby, which catches the attention of the crew. When they go to investigate, they meet an alien guy named Magolor, and he is upset about the crash, as he loses many parts of his ship. Fortunately, Kirby 'ere is willing to help out, and the other 3 guys agree to it as well. Magolor is pleased to hear this, and sends them off to go find the pieces. Like most Kirby games, story is irrelevant and is just "there". But that doesn't matter, it's Kirby! And you know, it's nice to have a simple story in games, instead of these huge cinematic stories.
Once Kirby is off, you will be thrown into the first of 7 worlds (each having food-related names, of course!), each of which split into around 4-5 levels each. The worlds/hubs (whichever you prefer to call them) look very similar to those of Kirby's Adventure (and it's GBA remake, Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland), and is a nice little reference. As one level is completed, you move onto the next, and once all levels are beat, you get to fight the boss. Each level contains hidden Energy Spheres (explained later on in this review) for you to collect (ranging from 3-5 per level) and each boss is holding a necessary ship part captive. You can visit the ship at any time from the world select screen.
If you have played and enjoyed any of Kirby's traditional outings such as Kirby's Adventure, Kirby Super Star, etc, you will be familiar with how the game plays out. It's refreshing to see Kirby have some traditional gameplay that made him what he is instead of his many recent (but still great) spin-offs. This Kirby is not an art project or curled into a ball whilst riding on rainbow, but plain ol' Kirby. And he sucks (herp herp, I made a funny). Kirby here will mercilessly devour any opponent in his path as he jumps and floats like the cute little pink puffball he is...
Ah, yes, his iconic ability to suck up an enemy and possibly steal their powers if they just so happen to have one. In Return to Dreamland, Kirby can inhale most opponents with a press of a button, where he then decides: do I eat them, or spit them out? Spitting them out shoots a star from your mouth that can kill other enemies or blocks. A new feature of Kirby's Return to Dreamland allows Kirby to inhale more enemies or large, normally unmovable blocks by shaking the Wii Remote, and if you spit out all of what you have, you shoot out a larger start that can destroy multiple targets can even travel through walls. Swallowing an enemy, if you do not like spitting out your food, does... well, it's self-explanatory. You eat them and they are never heard of ever again... or at least for a few hours.
Of course, you can take their powers by eating your foes. These powers are useful for killing enemies more efficiently or for solving certain tasks. Among the many abilities available in the game include well-known mainstays such as Sword or Fire, and some new powers that appear (this includes the awesome Spear and the Water ability shown in the very early trailers). Each ability is fleshed out and you can perform multiple attacks and such with each power, making for much more awesomeness. Occasionally, you'll run into ultra abilities, which are much more powerful versions of already existing abilities such as Ultra Sword or Grand Hammer. These can obliterate enemies and are damn fun to use. As a side note, you can't suck up enemies once you have a power... but this can be fixed by getting rid of your power, which can be done with pressing (-). Or damaging/killing yourself. Whichever works the best. If you take enough damage, you can lose your power, in which it turns into a star and bounces all around, and you must catch it before it disappears to get your powers back.
For those who don't know, Kirby is a platformer. 2D, jumping on things type of platformer. In each level, Kirby has to defeat enemies while getting to the goal. Scattered throughout each stage are stars, which function the same way as the stars in Kirby 64: collect 100 stars, get an extra life. Normal, yellow stars offer 1, larger orange stars are equal to 10 or the small ones, and even larger blue ones give you 30 of the suckers. Once Kirby reaches the goal, you get to take part in the goal game, which offers you a chance to win stars the higher you launch off of a trampoline thing. Make it to the top for 30 stars. The stages themselves play similarly to previous Kirby outings, of course, but this isn't a bad thing; Kirby always had top-notch stages, and they remain simple fun, though easy. But I'll talk about this later on.
Kirby's Return to Dreamland once again jumps onto the co-op bandwagon with the option to play with up to 4 people. Player 1 is always the normal, pink Kirby, though the other 3 players have a choice of either playing as another, different-colored Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, or a Waddle Dee (with a bandanna!). Each of the 3 other character can perform multiple jumps like Kirby, but each shares attacks of a copy ability (Meta Knight is Sword with some Wing skills, Dedede is Hammer, and Waddle Dee is Spear). There aren't any co-op specific areas, but that's actually better: it doesn't require you to go search for other people just to 100% the game (unlike you, LittleBigPlanet...). However, since I have not had the pleasure to play in co-op (as said by the note at the top), I cannot give any proper opinions on this subject.
Hidden in each stage are Energy Spheres, which are bubble-like things that require some challenge to obtain. Each stage contains 3-5 of the things, sometimes requiring some quick thinking, other times with the use of a specific ability, and occasionally requires a bit of puzzle-solving. In a stage where you have access to an ultra ability, you can find a star-shaped black hole where you can enter, hidden by obstacles that only the ultra ability can destroy and allow access to. Within these vortexes are extra areas where you must get to the end and fight a Sphere Doomer, who holds not 1, but 2 Energy Spheres. They can provide some tough battles, so be prepared.
Collecting Energy Spheres unlocks some cool extras in the ship. These include Copy Rooms where you can get some abilities to use in a stage, minigames, and Copy Room Challenges that test your skill with an ability. These challenge rooms have you try to gain as much points while getting to a goal within a time limit by collecting coins and killing enemies. If you get hurt, you lose points. Depending on how well you do, you are awarded with a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum medal. Going for platinum isn't easy, and encourages replaying and going for new high scores as well as provide a great challenge. Minigames consist of Ninja Dojo (where you shoot ninja stars at targets) and Scope Shot (where you aim at the screen and shoot objects).
Now, I want you to have a seat while I talk to you about difficulty. The game is, yes, easy. You can easily float over enemies, who don't pose much of a challenge. But that doesn't matter, it's still a fun game. And plus, there is a bunch of extras and other sections that offer a good challenge. Collecting every Energy Sphere isn't an easy task, and the bosses can be quite tough. Copy Room Challenges are certainly great places to look for challenge, and once you beat the main game, you unlock the Extra Mode, which is the same game but even more difficult, giving you that tough challenge, as well as the Arena mode. Thing is, even if some of the main game seems easy to you, there are many ways to give yourself challenges, as well as give great amount of replay value to this game. Besides, not everyone will be bothered by this difficulty, and it doesn't make Kirby less fun.
Graphic-wise, it doesn't push the Wii's hardware, but it still looks quite lovely. The simple yet colorful style of the game looks very nice and damn good, and is a visual treat. Not everything has to be brown and gritty to look good, ya'know. The soundtrack, like most Kirby games, is great and fitting. Kirby's Return the Dreamland's soundtrack might not be as amazing as previous games, but it's still damn awesome.
I guess now I should discuss this game's faults, seeing as I haven't talked about any yet. While Kirby's Return to Dreamland is truly great, it has some problems, such as... uh, such as... you know, I'll save this for the pros and cons section...
*Traditional Kirby gameplay is just as great as before
*Many different abilities to take advantage of, each power with a ton of moves and attacks
*Ultra powers are epic
*Optional co-op for those who like it
*Energy Spheres and multiple extras give tons of replay
*Difficulty not an issue
*Nice looking graphics and a great soundtrack
*...I guess some people won't like the easiness...
Kirby has passed my expectations ten-fold and has provided me with a game I think as near-flawless. The gameplay is so simple yet fun and pure, the mass amount of replayability in this game offering so much to do... this game is truly an epic. Any Kirby fan or Wii owner should have this game, as it's a true gem and one you won't come across often. Kirby's Return to Dreamland is a return to triumph!
A little more love for the Kirb-man
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Just plain fun"
Kirby's been getting a lot of love from Nintendo lately. For a long time he was mostly relugated to handheld adventures not having a true console title since the N64 given "Air Ride" was mostly a spinoff. Now we get two Wii games back to back, a DS game and an upcoming 3DS title, he's everywhere now.
Then last year, he reemerged in "Kirby's Epic Yarn" which was a bit different given he didn't have his power copy ability and you couldn't die in the game but Epic Yarn was a fun title and many were happy to have Kirby back on a console but for those who though Epic Yarn was a bit too different, will be happy with "Return to Dreamland" which goes back to something a little more familiar.
It's a typical happy day in Dreamland. Kirby and pals finally getting the sweat sock smell out after spending their last adventure inside a sock. Kirby is stealing snacks from King Dedede, and the King and his Waddle Dee are in hot pursuit while Meta Knight sits quietly reading Tsung Tsu's "The Art of War" when a large spaceship crash lands in the countryside. Kirby and Co. investigate and meet an alien named Magolor and being the nice guys they are offer to help Magolor recover the broken pieces of his ship. The plot sounds pretty standard though towards the end, some interesting twists occur particularly who ends up being a very affecting villian and ends in a rather epic fashion.
Gameplay is pretty standard Kirby fare not all that different from Kirby's Adventure on the NES. Sidescrolling 2.5D platforming. You run and jump absorbing different enemies taking their powers. Of course long time Kirby players know that this series isn't exactly hard and the real challenge comes from finding hidden goodies, in this, it's spheres from Magolor's ship. The spheres unlock rooms in the crashed spaceship such as power copy ability storage rooms, special power challenges and some point and shoot mini games. Once the main story is beaten, an arena mode as well as a hard mode are available.
Stages themselves have a nice variety of play. Some areas you can use a special item like a canon or a magic horn or Mario's Kurubo Shoe from SMB3 (so that's where that went) and the newest edition of "Super Abilities" where special glowing enemies enable Kirby with a Super powerful version of the Sword, fire, ice, hammer or Beam where you can basically just smash through the entire area with mindless destruction though towards the of the area one of these massive attacks will open a dimensional rift which will warp Kirby to a negative zone where he has to outrun a purple rift and fight off a "Sphere Doomer" a sort of bird like monster to gain two more energy spheres. While this is optional, it definitely adds some challenge for completionists.
Added to this is a multiplayer aspect where other players can drop in and out and play as King Dedede, MetaKnight and Waddle Dee but I didn't have anyone to play with so I can't comment on this.
Visually, while not as mind blowing as Epic Yarn, this has the fun colorful, cartoony look Kirby's known for. Not exactly pushing boundries but I loved it. There's some nice little details like when Kirby's in rock form his rock form morphs into a rock, a block, a Kirby statue, a statue of the three animal buddies from older games (MIA here) and a Atlas statue or Kirby in ice form will skate through the level and little background details like flowers that bloom as you pass. Music wise, I loved the soundtrack particular from the "Nutty Noon" level on and I found myself humming these tunes.
So as a tail end, Wii game, it's fun, nothing groundbreaking but anyone who liks Kirby or 2D platformers will enjoy it.