Reviews: Kirbys Returnto Dream Land

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Takes inspiration from the best, but fails to capture Sakurai's magic
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.

To its credit, whoever was in charge of this game certainly tried, and took direct inspiration from the best of the series. Essentially, this game feels like a fan-made hybrid of Kirby's Adventure and Kirby Super Star.

The level layout is essentially Kirby's Adventure. Many worlds are named after food, and there's a hub level for each world that connects to the actual levels. The levels themselves contain a mixture of combat and puzzle-solving, with hidden collectibles in each of them. Many puzzles require a specific ability to solve.

The combat, meanwhile, is Kirby Super Star. Part of what made that game so much more fun than the other Kirby games is the fact that each ability had numerous attacks and moves that could be performed, rather than having only one attack, which is sadly more common. Here, all abilities have numerous uses, making each ability feel almost like playing as a different character.

Speaking of different characters, this game has Drop In Drop Out Multiplayer. Multiple Kirbies can play at once, or players can take on the role of Waddle Dee, King DeDeDe, and Metaknight, each of which is armed with the equivalent of a specific ability. This is a very nice addition that goes beyond Super Star's two-player play.

With all of this, it seems like this should be a great game, but sadly, that's just not what I got from playing it. The level design just doesn't do it for me, and overall, it feels like the director of this game attempted to copy ideas from the best games in the series, without truly evolving them or understanding the quality game design that makes the series tick. It's hard to point out exactly how, but the game just feels kind of "blah". Which is a real shame, as the combination of design elements certainly had a lot of potential.
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