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Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review - delightfully dreamy

Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a delightfully dreamy platformer flying to Nintendo Switch to provide plenty of family friendly fun

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review - Kirby, King Dedede, and Spear Waddle Dee riding a star as Met Knight flies behind them

Our Verdict

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a wonderful revival of an already excellent game. Adorable, enjoyable, and absolutely oozing with charm, it offers a great range of platforming, puzzles, and minigames to explore either alone or with up to four players. Boasting enhanced visuals, fresh copy abilities, and new content, it’s an absolute delight, and a must for anyone looking for some family-friendly fun to brighten up their day.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land came out over ten years ago on the Wii and has been charming the world ever since. So, as a huge fan of the little pink gumball and co-op puzzle platformers, I was naturally over the moon to hear Nintendo’s announcement of Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe on Switch. And I’m happy to say that I’m not disappointed.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe has the same vibrant, colourful aesthetics as the original, but boasts a fresh lick of paint. The 3D models now have a chunky outline to smooth out their edges, the UI is sharper and adapts to both handheld and docked modes seamlessly, and the levels have a refreshed sense of life to them, with crisp colours, wonderfully fluid environmental elements, new copy abilities to master, and a whole host of quirky enemies for you to face.

The narrative, like all Kirby games, is charmingly simple, taking a backseat to the vivid and playful gameplay. In essence, Malogor’s ship is damaged, with parts scattered around different levels, and it’s up to you to collect them all and get this starfaring vessel ship-shape and ready to fly again so you can visit Malogor’s home planet. It’s adorable nonsense that primarily acts as a vehicle to send Kirby and pals off on another adventure around the cosmos, and I absolutely adore it.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review - Kirby shimmying along a rope over spikes

Even if you didn’t play the original, anyone who has spent time in a Nintendo platformer knows that they truly shine through their wonderfully varied levels – and Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is no different. Each level has six stages that adhere to the level’s theme – White Wafer is a winter wonderland with slippery platforms and plenty of opportunities to make the most of the fire and ice copy abilities, Nutty Noon sees you climb a beanstalk all the way to the clouds and try out various flying and jumping abilities, and so on.

I find the difficulty to be nice and varied throughout the game. The early stages are a breeze, but it does pick up the pace as you progress, with some truly tricky challenges for completionists down the line. Beating each level isn’t too hard, but the real difficulty comes in the form of the puzzles, secret rooms, and sneaky challenges you need to take on in order to collect all the energy spheres. There are even some hidden in some truly sneaky places that realistically require you to know the level layout to snag, which encourages you to take on the stage again. Luckily, each stage is pretty short, so diving back in to grab any goodies you missed doesn’t feel like too much of a slog.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review - the Helper Magolor info page

If you (or a little one) are finding the game a little too tricky, you can enable the Magolor Helper through the pause menu, in which he acts as your guardian angel, offering you stamina snacks to replenish your health, dramatically increasing your max stamina, and swooping in to save you when you fall. This makes the game much easier and far more accessible to anyone struggling with platforming and combat.

Speaking of combat, as mentioned before, there are new copy abilities to try throughout the levels, and plenty of enemies to test them out on. Each copy ability has its own unique moves, combos, strengths, and weaknesses. As always, it’s great fun sucking up an unsuspecting victim and trying your new skill. You can also collect ‘random copy essence’ items that, unsurprisingly, give you a random copy ability wherever you are.

There are plenty of challenges and enemies that require certain copy abilities to progress, encouraging you to try out a wide range of options. Funnily enough, I found the stages full of enemies and traps to be far more tricky than the boss battles themselves, but the cast of both familiar and fresh baddies still adds a sense of excitement to the beginning of each boss stage.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review - two players wearing Rick masks and celebrating victory

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe implements co-op play wonderfully. It supports up to four players, with player one always taking the titular pink fella and having authority over the camera. However, players two to four can choose to take control of King Dedede, Spear Waddle Dee, Meta Knight, or even another Kirby. The joy in this is that each of the characters have their own unique attacks and skills, and because additional Kirbys are an option, no one has to miss out on the brick-sucking, copy-ability-swapping fun.

As someone who really enjoys playing games in co-op and often feels disappointed by how second-rate additional player roles can feel, this is a real shining gem for me. Your pals don’t feel like a tacked-on afterthought but are just as capable as you, if not more so. They can pick up key items and power-ups, complete puzzles, walk through doors, and more. Plus, if they die, there are no repercussions. You don’t go back to the start of the level as you do when player one dies, they simply need to reconnect their controller and hop back in.

If your co-op buddies wander off-screen, they zip back into frame with no penalties, and they can drop in and out at any time on any level. It’s honestly a co-op dream and makes for some wonderful madcap fun with friends and family. Plus, I can’t tell you how many times my co-op partner and myself were in stitches over accidental sabotages, like them stealing my power-up then falling off a cliff, or opening the wrong door with a key.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review - a group of characters celebrating in Merry Magoland

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe does remain the same game at its core but is enhanced with a variety of fun new features, including the intriguing new Magolor arc (I won’t ruin that for you, but just know that it offers even more top-notch Kirby-kontent for you to enjoy). There’s also the absolutely adorable Merry Magoland theme park where you can play minigames alone or with friends, see the bosses you’ve bested come out to play, and waddle among the Waddle Dees.

Throughout the game, you also find and earn stamps to redeem at Merry Magoland, which reward you with handy in-game items and the brilliantly bizarre dress-up masks. I can’t stress enough how fun it is to romp around the world as Kirby wearing a goofy Marx or Rick mask, and it’s always an absolute treat to see what new masks you unlock.

The minigames at Merry Magoland are the same as the ones you unlock through the energy spheres aboard the ship, but you can access them all right off the bat. They offer a fun mix of different experiences, from catching eggs in Kirby’s mouth to throwing ninja stars at moving target boards, and you have multiple missions to fulfil in exchange for more stamps. This is a lovely addition as it’s entirely unessential, but offers something for completionists to aim towards.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review - a screenshot of the ninja throwing star minigame

As with its predecessor, Kirby Return to Dream Land Deluxe’s controls are flexible and adaptive, allowing you to use a full controller, a single Joy-Con, motion controls, and even touchscreen in some minigames. Inputs are responsive and snappy, which is integral due to the occasional stretches of precision platforming and minigames that require fast response times like Crackity Hack.

My only niggle with the button controls is that you need to push the joystick twice in quick succession (or tap the direction button twice) in order to toggle sprinting. Both my co-op teammate and I found this to be a little finicky and, at times, unresponsive, which is an issue when you need to sprint in order to pull off certain dash attacks.

As for the sound design, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is an absolute treat. It maintains its adorably energetic and upbeat OST full of beautifully composed orchestral tunes, and its sound effects are far crisper and less invasive, allowing the music to do all the heavy lifting. Plus, the little nonsensical nattering and celebratory exclamations of the characters are a real delight.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review - Festival Kirby and Meta Knight celebrating

Overall, I really enjoyed my journey back to Dream Land. It’s still the same, wonderful little platforming adventure at its heart, with enough fresh additions and upgrades to make it feel like a sparkly, new experience. If you’ve still got access to the original, you may want to wait until this one goes on sale. But, if you’re a big fan of the pink gumdrop, want some co-op fun with family and friends, or are looking for a light-hearted platformer to brighten up your day, then I highly recommend hopping aboard and taking Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe for a spin.

If you’re looking for more Kirby fun, check out our Kirby and the Forgotten Land review, Kirby characters guide, or Kirby wallpapers. We’ve also got a list of the best Kirby games for you to peruse.