Kirby's Return to Dreamland (Wii) Review

Discussion in 'GBAtemp Reviews & Guides' started by CarbonX13, Oct 30, 2011.

  1. CarbonX13

    CarbonX13 GBAtemp 台灣人

    Aug 27, 2010
    Vancouver, B.C.

    Kirby has always been a guinea pig to some of Nintendo’s wildest ideas. Despite starting out in his classic roots as a puff ball that eats his enemies and steals their powers, Kirby has seen his share of innumerable reincarnations under various circumstances where he was thrown into a new world unlike his own. It has been well over a decade since a true, classic Kirby game last appeared on a Nintendo home console (as Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards on the N64 in 2000); but since that time, Kirby has jumped around in titles for Nintendo’s main platforms much as a tester for Nintendo gameplay concepts. He traversed the world of racing in his sole GameCube showing in Kirby Air Ride, conquered the stylus controls of the Nintendo DS in Kirby Canvas Curse, and visited a world of fabric and wool in Kirby’s Epic Yarn for Wii. It can be said that Nintendo has made bold moves with the Kirby franchise to test out these new gameplay mechanics with the series, a job much easier said than done for such a well-established brand name. The Big N wouldn’t do this to a Mario title, nor would they dare attempt something that drastic with their Legend of Zelda franchise. The Kirby franchise has provided Nintendo a platform to evolve gameplay and produce fresh ideas, and has been a key source for some of Nintendo’s most creative works in the past decade. However, throughout all the adventures into unknown realms, Kirby has been neglected his traditional form for eleven straight years on Nintendo’s home consoles. The closest showcase to his abilities came in the Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl titles, but other than that, Kirby hasn’t been – well, Kirby – since entering the 21st century. Kirby’s Return to Dreamland is the definitive throwback to Kirby’s NES roots, born under the clever mind of Masahiro Sakurai. The title of the game implies a visit to the old days, a return to the past glory days of the Kirby that Nintendo fans once knew. Everyone’s favourite pink puff-ball is back, and his throwback adventure is truly a nostalgic experience not to be missed.

    Kirby’s Return to Dreamland gives Kirby’s old gameplay mechanics a chance to shine in a new era, and a very different gaming scene. In an era of shooters like Call of Duty, action-adventure titles like Uncharted, or casual titles like Nintendo’s on Wii series, Kirby’s second Wii incarnation differentiates itself from the competition almost immediately. Our puff-ball hero is back at it with his signature copy abilities; the game is littered with old Kirby favourites like Sword, Cutter, Fire, Water, Bomb, and much, much more. Return to Dreamland delivers what a whole decade of Kirby titles hasn’t done, and that is a fun, classic Kirby game. Sure, fresh gameplay ideas are great, but they haven’t been nearly as memorable as what Kirby’s true nature is. Nothing really beats inhaling your enemies to steal their powers, picking up snacks to refill your health gauge, and traversing the lively worlds of Dreamland in a typical, and albeit cliché, Kirby story. Old-time moves have seen their fair share of upgrading since Kirby’s previous titles; Bomb Kirby, for example, received an overhaul to transform from a sluggish mess to a total wrecking ball. What really steals the show, though, are the new Super Abilities that can be obtained in various levels throughout the game. Super Abilities transform a normal, enemy ability, into a super-powered, ultra-effective, ground-crumbling tool of destruction. The Ultra Sword, for example, takes the form of a Sword Kirby… with a sword a thousand times larger than normal (that was a hyperbole). Ploughing through sections of a level with Super Abilities brings pure thrill to a Kirby fan’s mind, leaving a grin that is almost impossible to wipe off as the world, and its enemy inhabitants, crumble at the might of the pink puff-ball.

    Kirby’s Return to Dreamland takes bold strives to improve the gameplay quality of Kirby while maintaining its “cultural heritage” from the NES days. Traditionally, Kirby games haven’t been known for their storyline or plot, and that same essence is preserved in his latest outing, both for good and bad. This time around, an alien named Magalor has crashed his spaceship on Pop Star, with various pieces of the spacecraft scattered around the world. Kirby, in traditional fashion, offers to help the bewildered alien and immediately sets off on the quest to recover the missing pieces. The storyline is pretty typical of a Kirby game, and at this stage it is definitely very cheesy and simplistic, but that all goes back to the traditional ways of this franchise. Return to Dreamland kicks off in very simplistic fashion, in levels that will be of minimal challenge to novices and a complete run-by to seasoned veterans of the series. The game certainly picks up in difficulty as you conquer level after level, with the final stages of the game requiring a reasonable showcase of skill and technique. The final boss, especially, requires some clever thinking and a decent strategy, as Kirby fights in a multi-stage battle that caps off the main story in epic fashion.

    Also in a traditional Kirby fashion is the graphical and musical approach to the title. Kirby’s Return to Dreamland carries incredibly cute character designs and some great background detail to its stages. Kirby and his transformations look fantastic, and have that same cute feel from Kirby’s last home console outing over a decade ago. Super Abilities look incredible, and really bring out the epic feel of their corresponding moves. The animations are equally impressive, with each power shown beautifully and smoothly to give the game an extra sense of polish. The side-scrolling levels have easier designs than the popular New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but have more vibrant colours and better atmosphere. On the soundtrack front, the music is cheerful when it has to be, while intense under the appropriate circumstances. While there’s nothing in here that will be an instant, recognizable hit, the music certainly suits the game well enough.


    The only real issue with Kirby’s Return to Dreamland is in length. The game’s main storyline runs rather short of your average game, and can be beaten within five or six hours of gameplay. On the other hand, the game does have a bonus game mode after its first completion that depletes Kirby’s health of only a fraction of his original, adding a layer of difficulty to the game on a second run through. Throughout the quest, there are Energy Spheres (a total of around 120) to collect, as well as unlockable challenge rooms and minigames. While they provide for additional game time, they’re almost completely optional, and can be avoided completely at the player’s will. The multiplayer aspect allows for quick and easy drop-in like the LEGO video game franchises, allowing up to three additional players to join in as Meta Knight, King Dedede, a Waddle Dee, or an additional Kirby. Each has their individual abilities and advantages, such as Meta Knight capable of flying/jumping at much greater speeds than Kirby, or King Dedede having more powerful attacks using his hammer. While the drop-in functions work great, issues arise over players’ lives. All the lives are shared across the board, but additional characters are free to drop-in at any time even when the meter hits zero. The awkward concept is, if Kirby dies at that point, all characters fail the level and are forced to restart. The design choice seems rather questionable, and seeing how New Super Mario Bros. Wii nailed the concept of four-player, cooperative side-scrolling gameplay, it leaves question marks to why HAL Laboratory opted not to go along that same path.

    Kirby’s Return to Dreamland is a return to what made Kirby a popular icon throughout the video game industry decades ago. Everything about the game is a throwback to the past; a tribute to the puff-ball’s incredible legacy as a keystone Nintendo character. Kirby fans will without a doubt find what they have been asking for with Return to Dreamland, as the game is packed to the brim with Kirby, Kirby, and more Kirby action. But as the game doesn’t take many steps forward from its roots, it likely won’t attract gamers whom never enjoyed Kirby titles in the past. The series will never overtake Nintendo’s Mario or Zelda franchises in popularity, but that may serve as an advantage going into the future for Nintendo. Some might write off the game as too cute, too easy, or too childish, but doing so is simply being hypocritical to what Kirby games have been all about. Kirby games have always been known for being cute, being easy to approach, and for being an entrance to gaming for many children around the world because of it. In an era where “hardcore” titles like Call of Duty, Gears of War, and Uncharted flourish due to graphical prowess and more intensive gameplay, it is resounding to see a game like Kirby’s Return to Dreamland: a title that doesn’t take a path of mainstream cool, and instead taking a path of pure heart. Welcome back Kirby. You have been dearly missed.

    • Gameplay - 9/10
    • Storyline - 7/10
    • Graphics - 9/10
    • Sound - 8/10
    • Replayability - 8/10
    Final Score: 9/10
    1 person likes this.
  2. SubliminalSegue

    SubliminalSegue GBAtemp Fan

    Oct 12, 2010
    United States
    I was worried about the new Kirby. Pretty sweet review, it's a shame I still don't have my Wii, otherwise I'd pick this up. But I was happy-yet-disappointed with Epic Yarn, so hopefully this makes up for that.......adorableness.
  3. Schezo92

    Schezo92 GBAtemp Regular

    Jul 13, 2011
    United States
    A little nitpick but
    "old Kirby favourites like Sword, Cutter, Fire, Water, Bomb"
    Don't think I've seen Water in a kirby game before, maybe you meant Ice.
    Other than that good review, that highlights pros and cons in an unbiased as possible way.
  4. syko5150

    syko5150 GBAtemp Syko!

    Apr 25, 2009
    United States
    This new Kirby does have a water ability along with ice ability.
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