Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a Switch port of the Wii title with a few quality-of-life improvements and some extra levels, mini-games, and abilities being added. This does serve as a nice introduction to the land of Kirby if you have never played any of the previous games released. The basic gameplay is that of platforming around areas and sucking in enemies and objects to shoot them back out as a star. Now that is Metal. With lots of bright and pastel colours throughout.
The story starts with Magolor crash-landing his ship on Planet Popstar and scattering 5 key components of the ship across it along with many energy spheres. Kirby and his friends set out to retrieve the parts so that Magolor can return home. While there is a twist in the story that anybody who played the original will know, I won’t spoil it for those that did not play the original. You travel around Popstar before eventually going to Magolor’s home planet where the story continues, and that twist comes into play.
Once far enough into the main story, you unlock the Merry Magoland amusement park which contains quite a large number of minigames to play, either against CPU opponents or against your friends. Collecting the power spheres unlocks more games and this in turn allows you to earn stamps that can be redeemed for treasures. The treasures are just various masks that can be equipped to Kirby or his friends to make them look unique and to stand out from the other players using the same skins. There are quite a few to collect and most are just various characters or enemies encountered throughout the various Kirby games. The stamps are normally earned by playing the minigames and hitting certain milestones in either one game or over a few but the challenges do get a bit harder as you progress but overall, none of them feel impossible, just can be a bit of a grind if you are playing by yourself. Whereas playing the coop mode will make that seem like an afterthought as you carry on playing.
As mentioned in the intro, the main story gameplay is that of a basic platformer where you have to go from one end of the map to another with various enemies and obstacles in the way. Pressing the jump button allows you to almost fly as Kirby jumps higher with each push and then slowly drops back down. The only limit is the height of map. What makes Kirby a slight bit different than other platforming heroes is that he has no attack but does have a bottomless pit stomach and a vacuum power inhale. By holding the inhale button, you can suck in enemies that you can then fire back out his mouth as stars. Holding in the inhale for a loner period of time allows you to suck in bigger enemies or bigger obstacles but this does have the drawback of making you vulnerable while performing the move. With great risk does come great reward as if you suck in the larger or multiple enemies or the larger obstacle, you are rewarded with a much bigger star that breaks everything in it’s path for the length of the current screen. This works wonders for taking out group enemies or destroying some of the larger walls and obstacles.
As you progress in the levels, you can find various orbs flying about that contain the copy abilities. By jumping at the orbs and collecting them, Kirby absorbs and gains the abilities of the various orbs that give him various attacks to be used like a swirling tornado of leaves or having a magic wand that can shoot out blasts or create a whip-like melee weapon. These also give him a snazzy costume change with each ability like looking like a pink puffball version of Link or spiky anime hair with the spark ability. To keep things a bit fresh, they did include 2 new abilities, the mecha which makes Kirby look like a round Gundam, and the sand ability, which reminds me of Dio Brando but just a round pink version. There are also multiple Super Abilities that basically make Kirby even more overpowered that can be gained by inhaling enemies that are glowing. These tend to have massive areas of damage and tend to knock any enemies into the screen or destroy any of the landscapes. Unlike the copy abilities, they are timed so once the timer runs out, you lose the ability but they tend to be powerful enough to carry you to the end of the level.
Before moving on to the next area, you get a boss fight. These tend to be very easy as you can damage them while easily avoiding projectiles or attacks. You can either tackle it using a variety of the copy abilities or if you want more of a challenge, try inhaling the projectiles and firing them back at the boss. The boss battles become a bit tedious as they eventually became the same rinse-and-repeat gameplay, which is very much like the rest of the game. There is an additional epilogue that gets unlocked once the game is completed that allows you to play as Magolor and also allows the 4-player co-op functionality as well. This does go into some spoiler territory so will leave it at that for players to find and experience.
The game is not aimed at hardcore or serious gamers as the difficulty is almost non-existent, but this makes it perfect for unwinding or just as a general distraction when you just want to relax. While being very chilled in general, the completionist in me found it very difficult to move on until I got all the items on a map. This did cause me to replay levels repeatedly until I had everything. The game knows its the target audience and does not really stray far from it whatsoever as it really does not need to. The game is pure fun and perfect for a casual session.
You can download the game from the eShop using the first link or you can purchase it from the Nintendo Store SA. If you are uncertain, there is a demo available using the first link so you can try before you buy.