Reviews: Kirbys Return To Dreamland

(totally redone review) Takes inspiration from the best and adds nothing much new, but still a good game

Masahiro Sakurai, the creator of Kirby, is also easily the best director of Kirby games. The games under his tutelage include the original Dream Land, Adventure, and Super Star. And also Air Ride, but nobody's perfect.

Most Kirby games were not designed by Sakurai, and it shows: Kirby's Adventure and Kirby Super Star are considered the standouts of the series, but many of the other games fail to capture what made those two so much fun.

This game, meanwhile, does nothing truly new, but rather it pulls a New Super Mario Bros. U. NSMBU pulled ideas and themes from Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World while tossing in 4-player multiplayer. This game does basically the exact same thing with the previous two mentioned Kirby games. It may not be original, but it's good, and that's what matters most.

The Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer is handled really well. Players may join and leave at any time, as either one of Kirby's companions, or a different colored Kirby himself. The first player is forced to be standard pink Kirby, no exceptions. Like previous multiplayer Kirby games, other players may die as many times as they like and keep rejoining, but if the first player loses a life, everyone is forced to try again. Kirby's companions all represent different abilities: for example, Metaknight uses a Sword, King Dedede wields the Hammer, and Waddle Dee uses a Spear. These function exactly the same as Kirby's own abilities whenever he obtains those powers.

Having played the game both by myself and multiplayer with my 7-year-old nephew, now-4-year-old niece, sister-in-law and brother, I can tell you that multiplayer is a blast but single player works well too. The level design is pretty good, though I'm not a fan of the "dark technology" theme of the game's 6th world. Music feels like a mixture of styles from across the Kirby series, including a medieval-themed song for a forest level, much like Kirby's Adventure had.

It's clear this game takes inspiration from the best of the series and feels like the Kirby equivalent of the 2D Mario game that would follow a year later, but that's ultimately not a bad thing, not when it's this well done.