In the mid-90s, I remember seeing a television commercial for Kirby Super Star on the Super Nintendo. The commercial used the term “TMK” which stood for “Too Much Kirby.” I won’t go into the details of the commercial (I can only imagine how cringey/90s it is today) but the TMK acronym was an accurate way to describe Super Star. Similarly, it’s the perfect way to describe Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch. An enhanced version of the Wii game, this Deluxe version is packed backwards and forwards with excellent content.
Kirby’s journey begins as innocently and as adorably as expected. While running through some verdant surroundings with a cake, Kirby, Bandana Waddle Dee, Meta Knight and King Dedede look to the sky to see a wormhole opening. A bizarre spaceship emerges from it and crashes into the ground. Inside is an alien named Magolor. Due to the unexpected crash landing, Magolor’s space ship is out of order. Kirby and the crew decide to act like the good Samaritans that they are and assist their new friend in finding all of the remaining ship parts that scattered throughout Pop Star. In a unique spin on a classic formula, Kirby isn’t battling King Dedede or Meta Knight. These two characters, as well as the bandanna-wearing Waddle Dee, join forces with Kirby to help him track down the missing parts of the ship. I really enjoyed seeing these four characters come together for a common goal. As expected there is more to the story than meets the eye and the crew will learn more about Magolor the closer they get to finding all of the missing ship parts. It’s a good, old-fashioned fun type of story that has the same level of seriousness you’d come to expect from any Kirby title.
Return to Dream Land Deluxe is an absolute delight to play; packed with 2.5D platforming glory. Veterans and newcomers alike will be able to dive right into the fun. Kirby can do all of his usual tricks: he can float, shoot puff balls, slide, swim, and inhale enemies to be either shot as projectiles or swallowed. The most important ability is the Copy Ability. Kirby can copy the abilities of certain enemies after he swallows them. Fans of modern titles will be pleased to know that each has a unique set of moves that keep the game play fresh. Favorite abilities like Sword, Cutter and Wing are back and still enjoyable. The new abilities in Deluxe are Mecha and Sand. Both are very fun to play around with; there’s a copy ability for everyone.
New abilities are just the start. First, there is Kirby’s super-inhale. By holding a button, Kirby will inhale nearly everything in his way. Super Abilities are enhanced versions of classic Copy Abilities that are used to unleash screen wide devastation and solve simple puzzles. Finally, there’s a magnificent multi-player option. Three additional players can join in on the fun as a differently colored Kirby, or as one of the other characters. Waddle Dee uses a spear, Meta Knight uses a sword and King Dedede uses a hammer. Their move sets are similar to Kirby’s copied abilities (Spear, Sword and Hammer respectively) and watching these four wreak havoc across the screen provides plenty of fun.
Whether you’re playing by yourself, with Dedede and the crew, or with another colored Kirby, Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a blast. There are countless secrets to uncover, plenty of ways to overcome enemies, and some impressive boss battles that take more strategy than one would expect. That being said, Return to Dream Land Deluxe is only slightly more challenging than the average Kirby title. Certain collectibles/puzzles require more thinking than expected, but with the ability to enter and exit stages with ease, obtaining all of the items should come easily. I highly recommend taking the time to do so because the more stuff you find in the main game, the more bonus stages you unlock. Return to Dream Land Deluxe features some of the most fun bonus stages ever seen in the series. Some are dedicated to one of Kirby’s copy abilities and require you to master it as you defeat enemies, gather coins and finish the stage as quickly as possible. Out of all of the bonuses available in Kirby history, these are the most fun. Other bonuses include Copy Rooms and mini-games.
The mini-games come into full swing in one of Deluxe’s new features: Merry Magoland. Here, you can participate in eight mini-games to unlock prizes for Kirby’s main campaign. Most of these prizes are masks that pay homage to Kirby’s long career. Masks don’t provide anything other than a cosmetic touch, but they’re still fun to unlock. Fans of Super Star will immediately recognize Crackety Hack and Samurai Kirby. The new mini-games are a great distraction for when you need a break from the regular adventure. Of course, you can play these solo or with friends. Another new feature in Deluxe is Magolor’s Epilogue: The Interdimensional Traveler. This might be my favorite new addition. You get to play as Magolor in his own adventure. The neat thing is that his playstyle is very different from Kirby’s. His campaign doesn’t last nearly as long as the main one, but it’s still fun. Finally, there’s the True Arena in the Deluxe version. Anyone who thinks Kirby games are easy need to take a seat and take a shot at the True Arena. It’s not easy.
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a gorgeous and vibrant looking game. The 2.5D play-style with 3D models pops and sparkles. Kirby and the crew will explore a variety of worlds as they search for the missing pieces of Magolor’s ship. Enemies, new and old, big and small, plain and fancy will try to hinder your progress. My biggest issue with the presentation is the music: it’s forgettable. Every other aspect of the game is fantastic, so I might be judging too harshly. On the other hand, I am never able to recall any of the tunes. I’m just being nitpicky at this point; it should be apparent that I rank this updated version of Return to Dream Land highly.
And it’s because I rank it so highly that I recommend it. The main game is over in about ten hours, depending on how much you want to find. Getting 100% on a file will take a lot longer. The multiplayer option ensures that no two sojourns through the same stage will be similar. As someone that grew up with Kirby and has plenty of memories from multiplayer titles like Super Star, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land is the perfect title. That commercial for Kirby Super Star might have created the term “TMK”, but Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe takes it to an entirely new level.
Overall, 9.5/10: Sure, I’m slightly biased because I’m a big Kirby fan. Still, the level of TMK-ness makes it an easy recommendation to new and old Kirby fans.