Published on November 2nd, 2011 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Review
It has been said that the character of Kirby was formulated for the sole purpose of being a placeholder until the actual character was developed. The story is that developer Masahiro Sakurai liked the puffy placeholder so much, that he decided to keep him around. It always makes me wonder if the actual character we know as “Kirby” was any different, would he be loved just the same? Granted, I was not even sure for the longest time if “he” was not a “she.”
If there ever was a time for a first party title to release on a console that is slowly losing steam, it is now. In this story of Planet Popstar and it’s inhabitants, we see a mysterious starcutter ship known as the Lor come crashing down from the sky. It is up to a gang of former foes to take on the adventure and save the star traveler’s thrashed vehicle whose parts have been spread throughout the geography. The pilot known as Magolor opens various parts to his ship as more energy spheres are collected.
For those who have never played a Kirby adventure title before, get ready to be awestruck by the cuddly action adventurer. Kirby has the ability to swallow pretty much anything that presents itself in his path, but that’s not where his magic ends. The general substance known as “food” is his main source for energy. From milkshakes to enemy powers, there are many options available to our hero.
The Copy Ability has been present in all former Kirby titles.Any enemy power he swallows gives him access to that enemy’s abilities. Choosing not to swallow these powerups leaves them to be fired off in the shape of stars, but do not be fooled, these bits of galaxy pack a punch.
One of the new features that is different in this Kirby title is his new “Super Inhale.” By shaking the Wii Remote or mashing the D-pad in all directions (along with the ‘1’ button to inhale) Kirby can consume larger enemies as well as multiple smaller enemies. This tactic is used not only to drop adversaries with larger amounts of health, but also to maneuver through a level while destroying many obstacles in your way. While most creatures and objects are easily discarded, there are a variety of other powerups that Kirby can get his little mitts on during the game.
The multiple character powers that Kirby can possess have been the driving force of all Kirby games. Swallowing and digesting enemies allows him to absorb their power. Most that can be seen in KRtD has been seen in other previous Kirby titles. Ride the waves of Water Kirby, or slice n’dice your nearest foe with Sword Kirby. New Super Abilities have been added to give this fluffy pink puff more substance.
The Super Abilities are character moves that often engulf the entire screen and blast through anything else in the path of released power. This also sends many on screen enemies spinning to their demise. Some of the moves include the Ultra Sword, Snow Bowl, and Monster Flame. If these names sound like the epitome of an epic over-the-top on-screen celebration of destruction, you guessed right.
One of the things I was extremely satisfied to find in the game was its longevity. It would be easy for an action adventure title to call it quits at the main adventure being wrapped up in just a few short levels. In this case, by collecting energy spheres throughout each level, players can unlock various mini-games and challenge rooms. There are also a ton of features that open up once the game is complete, but I don’t want to give any of these away.
This is also tacked on to the drop-in/drop-out multiplayer ability that we find in the game’s story mode. Players can join in as another color Kirby, Meta Knight, Waddle Dee, or King Dedede.
There is no doubt that the game packs a lot of punch. If you wanted to get extremely critical, the latter of the levels have a very lopsided difficulty, as they should. It used to be the farther and higher up you got in the game, the harder the difficulty became. This is exactly the case as it changes almost abruptly, but it is well worth the level of challenge. I wouldn’t mind if the game continued on showcasing such a high class of visuals and creativity.
One thing that brought the game to such light was the aesthetics. From bright vivid colors in levels like Onion Ocean, to the sheer creativity running rampant in the progression of areas like those in Nutty Noon, it was nothing short of a beautiful showcase for the eyes. It wasn’t hard to come to a standstill and admire the music and visuals dancing on screen. This also led to some other noticeable inclusions that were not hard to miss.
Throughout the game, there was a LOT of noticeable references/similarities to other Nintendo games. For example, in Onion Ocean, we see quite a few large eels protruding out from the sides of the cave walls during submersion. In various other areas, Kirby is able to hop into an oversized boot similar to the one that we were introduced to in Super Mario Bros. 3.
In the latter levels, we see quite a few explosive barrels that are used to launch Kirby, and even discover hidden items. Sound familiar? The exclamation “bang” design on the side is also similar to the Donkey Kong Country design. Kirby even makes reference to himself when turning into Stone. These are just a few that I could remember. I’m sure fans out there could produce quite the list.
It isn’t often that a title hits in that soft spot that some of you call a heart, but when it does, it is oh so refreshing. The vast majority of the game is an almost soothing journey into Planet Popstar. There are plenty of “wow, cool” moments during the game, some of which can be found in the visuals and music alone. The game hosts unlockables, a lengthy story, and challenge areas to keep you busy.
For the Nintendo Wii, it doesn’t get more delightfully-magical than it does with Kirby’s Return to Dreamland. There were areas of awe as I simply stared at the fluffy clouds of imagination put to work in the level design. There is no doubt that this title will continue to uphold the timeless label of a classic and become one that every Wii owner and Nintendo fan should purchase.
+ Fun Factor
– Online Mode