As a huge fan of the Kirby franchise, there have only been two Kirby games I didn't pick up on or very near release since 2002: Kirby's Air Ride and Kirby's Mass Attack. The reason for the latter was that I decided instead to pick up Kirby's Return to Dream Land
on the Nintendo Wii. I played it sporadically over the two weeks since its launch and finally got 100% on the main game. As such, I'm making this post to kind of give my impressions and opinions on the game. If you're interested to find out just how good the game is, read on. I will warn you, there are a few spoilers, but I won't try to spoil much of the main story.
As the game begins, Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, and Waddle Dee investigate a ship that crash landed on Pop Star. The ship (known as the Lor Starcutter) belongs to a being named Magolor and he explains that when he crash landed, the five main parts of his ship broke off and were scattered around Pop Star, along with the majority of one-hundred twenty energy spheres. Your goal is to complete each world to find a piece of the Starcutter as well as any energy spheres you come across. Once all five parts are found, everyone boards the ship to fly off to Magolor's home world to confront the danger that lurks there. Something to mention is that, while not required to beat the game, gathering energy spheres will eventually unlock three types of bonuses: a mini-game (there's two of them), and ability room (four total), and an ability challenge (several of these). I know that getting at least a bronze medal on each challenge is required for a 100% completion, not sure on the mini-games.
The game plays similar (if not exactly) like Kirby's Adventure and Kirby's Super Star, so if you're familiar with previous traditional Kirby titles, this will feel right at home. The dashing, sliding, inhaling, and swallowing all return, as well as some new abilities. If you need to inhale something especially big, heavy, or a little out of range, you can shake the Wiimote up and down while holding the 1 button to increase the power of your inhaling. Then, of course, are the multiple powers that Kirby can gain by eating his enemies. A lot of the mainstays return, such as Sword and Hammer, but a few new ones make their debut, such as Water and Whip. Some old abilities are even merged together, such as Fire gaining a couple properties of Fireball, and Spark gaining Plasma’s ability to charge and fire energy shots. There are also times in which you can inhale special enemies to gain giant versions of their powers. While your time with these is limited, mastering them is crucial to gaining every energy sphere in the game.
While the game is fun, there is one little issue I have with it, and anyone who's played past Kirby games will probably agree: the difficulty. Thankfully, it's not like Kirby's Epic Yarn. You have lives, you can die, and you can get a Game Over. However, outside of one stage giving me issues, most of my deaths were either stupid deaths or suicides so I could go back and get an energy sphere I missed. Even the last few bosses weren't that bad, but that's for another reason. There are two abilities in the game which I consider borderline broken. Leaf Kirby lets you fire off leaves at enemies, but you can also hold down 1 and create a whirlwind-type effect near you, and anything hit by a leaf in your whirlwind will take damage and hit-recoil (except for bosses). As such, there were several areas in which I just held down 1 and right on the D-Pad and just slowly made my way across an area. The other ability to mention is Spark. Remember when I said it gained Plasma's charge/release ability? Yeah, that's your best friend against bosses. Charge, release, charge, release, dodge once in a while. My first shot against the final boss, I got pounded. Decided to take in Spark, got through no problems.
Despite its difficulty (or lack thereof), Return to Dream Land
is a fun and enjoyable game. Some people may turn it down for being too easy, but if you're like me, it's nice to see a 2D (or 2.5D) side-scrolling game in the franchise that feels like the NES and Super NES games. Even after you've completed the game, you're not done. Completing the game opens up The Arena, which plays exactly like it's Kirby's Super Star counterpart. Choose an ability to start off with, challenge 13 bosses in a random order (except the last couple are probably in a set position), and you have a few tomatoes to recharge between rounds, but use them wisely. Beating the final boss also unlocks Extra Game. It's the same game, only some enemies are tougher and you only have half your life bar. Also, once you get a 100%, you can then choose any of the four main characters in single-player mode: Kirby, King Dedede, Waddle Dee, or Meta Knight. Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to test out multiplayer, but I'd assume it's similar to New Super Mario Bros., just with its own brand of chaotic mishaps. Overall, Kirby's Return to Dream Land
is a fun game, and I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of the franchise.