Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe review – A charming platformer that’s stuck in the past


Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe is a re-release of a game that was already a throwback to a time decades before it, meaning this is a game that’s firmly rooted in the past – for better or worse.

There are no threads of yarn to spin or rainbow paintbrushes to be found in this Kirby adventure. This is a return to the enemy-swallowing days of old, with Copy Abilities taking center stage as you chop, freeze, flame, and blast your way through traditional side-scrolling levels.

Whether that’s a good thing really depends on what you’re looking for. But for me, it all just felt a little too familiar, with a lack of innovation and little to offer seasoned gamers. Of all Nintendo’s recent Switch re-releases, this is probably the least essential.

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Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe key details

  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Price: £49.99/$59.99
  • Release Date: February 24, 2023
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch

Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe trailer

A classic Kirby adventure

Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe, just like the original Wii game from 2011, kicks off with a mysterious spaceship crash landing on Planet Popstar, the home of our favorite pink puffball. The ship’s pilot, an alien known as Magolor, tasks Kirby and friends with finding the missing parts of his vessel, which are now spread across the realm – to help him get back home. It’s a paper-thin story, but Kirby games have never really needed much of a plot, so you’re able to get right into the action within minutes.

As far as that action goes, it’s classic Kirby fare; waddle through brightly-colored 2D levels, inhale enemies to steal their abilities, and take on boss fights at regular intervals. There are multiple lands with the standard themes you’d expect from a game like this, such as the deserts of Raisin Ruins or the icy mountains of White Wafers, and several stages housed in each one.

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The Water Copy Ability in Kirby's Return to Dreamland DeluxeNintendo

Copy Abilities, as expected, are the stars of the show. There are the obvious ones like Sword and Fighter, which are great for basic combat, while others can be used to interact with the environment. Water lets you surf across lakes, for example, while Whippy allows you to hit switches hidden behind walls. Just when you think you’ve experienced them all, another Copy Ability appears, and most of them are really fun to play with – even if they do function quite similarly.

This Deluxe repackage expands on that further with some new Copy Abilities. The most interesting one to use is Mecha, which gives Kirby a Mega Man-style makeover complete with laser blasters and a jet pack. Sand can be useful, as it allows you to hide in the ground from enemy attacks, but it’s not quite as fun to use.

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There are also Super Abilities, which appear toward the end of levels. These are powered-up versions of regular Copy Abilities that fill the screen with giant attacks, whether that’s a swing of a giant sword or a fire dragon blazing across the screen. It’s reminiscent of the glee I felt when scoring a Mega Mushroom in New Super Mario Bros. and a great example of how fun Kirby games can be when they try something new and lean into their whacky side.

The Fire Super Ability in Kirby's Return to Dreamland DeluxeNintendo

Unfortunately, there just weren’t enough of these grin-inducing moments for me. The game is very easy, there’s little variation between levels, and even boss fights lack spark, with a simple combination of jumping and mashing the attack button usually being enough to take them out. It sometimes felt like I was going through the motions – which is never a good feeling when playing a video game.

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I’m aware that I’m probably not the target age for this game, which is likely part of the reason I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. This would be a great game for families with young children to play together, as there’s very little in the way of challenges or risk factors to worry about and the option to play co-op with up to four players is still available.

So what’s new, Kirby?

While I’m not convinced that Kirby’s Return to Dreamland earned this Deluxe repackage (or that new-game price tag), I will praise it for being packed with content. If you enjoy the main story, there’s plenty to do including several post-game levels in the Magolor Epilogue – which adds some RPG-lite elements to the traditional Kirby gameplay – while a brand new area known as Merry Magoland offers up loads of genuinely fun minigames to pick-up-and-play with friends.

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If you’ve played a Mario Party game, you’ll know what to expect here. Smash Ride sees you bashing your opponents out of the ring, Bomb Rally is like a game of hot potato where you bat away bombs with a tennis racket, while Samurai Kirby is a showdown that requires you to time your attack just right. All of the mini-games on offer can be played with motion controls, which makes it a great option if you’re looking for a quick party game.

As for the visuals, level backdrops have been given more depth and texture, while the simple addition of outlines around characters and enemies helps make them pop. It’s nothing spectacularly different, but considering how well the original game holds up, that’s not really a complaint – a fresh coat of paint is all that was really needed.

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A mini-game in Kirby's Return to Dreamland DeluxeNintendo

Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe succeeds at being a repackage. It takes the original game, jazzes up the visuals, throws in some extra gameplay, and delivers it ready for a new audience to experience. Job done. The problem is, I don’t think the original game was really good enough to warrant a re-release.

Even back in 2011, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland (also known as Kirby’s Adventure Wii in Europe) felt too much like revisiting old ground, and this Deluxe edition – despite all of its quirky mini-games and new levels – can’t do much to change that. It also doesn’t help that this game is coming off the back of last year’s delightful Kirby and the Forgotten Land, which did a great job of pushing the franchise into the modern era.

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Still, if you’re a classic Kirby superfan looking for something to scratch that 2D platformer itch, or you’re in need of a game to play alongside a younger audience, then there should be enough to keep you satisfied here.

The Verdict – 3/5

Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe is a charming platformer with plenty of fun content for kids and families to discover and enjoy together. But with a very low difficulty level and a real lack of innovation, it’s unlikely to captivate older audiences in the way that the best Nintendo games can.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch