Kirby's Return to Dream Land
Review by pafbonk
"Pink is now officially a manly color."
Kirby. The awesome pink puffball that has starred in a lot of great games for now 2 decades. Unlike a lot of game series these days, Kirby isn't really going downhill. It's a franchise that experiments with every new game, and rarely fails to impress with their originality. Air Ride, Canvas Curse, Mass attack... these are just some examples of their latest successes when it comes to trying something new. But in 2011, after all this, it had been over 10 years since the last regular 2D Kirby game had been released on console (Epic Yarn was not a regular Kirby game). So, they gave it a shot. Did it pay off?
Oh god, yes. Not only did it not disappoint, it is now my 2nd favorite Kirby game, behind Kirby 64. Let's break down why, shall we?
Yes, the Wii has always been behind in graphics, but in 2D games, the console really shines: this game is one of the most colorful games there is. The animation is very fluid, the objects look very good, and what can I say about the backgrounds: they're absolutely breath-taking. Sometimes , they were so good that I just stopped playing and I looked at them for a few seconds: sunken ships, snowy mountains, pyramids, they really put attention into every detail.This game doesn't have an art direction quite as original as Kirby's Epic Yarn, but this is still one pretty piece of eye candy. Don't you just wanna eat all those lollipops?
I was taken off guard by the music from this game: I did not expect something this amazing. This is in my opinion the greatest soundtrack in any Kirby game, balancing perfectly between great original themes and our favorite music from the older games. Every piece of music from this game is good: some of my favorites being the boss theme and the challenge theme. Overall, this surprised me. I still find it sad though that video game music, especially from the Kirby franchise, is so underrated. I'm a musician and that pains me. but enough of this, and on to the next category!
Good old Kirby sounds. So funny, yet so iconic. We've got used to these sounds and they brought them back, to our big joy. It adds to the whole style of the game. What else can I say? It's just sounds!
Game play: 30/30
This game shines as easily the best game in the series since Kirby 64, maybe even the best in the series period. What makes it so great you might ask? Well, for starters, the controls are perfect. There is very little motion control and it always works when you do it. Also, this game, like most Kirby games, tried to innovate by adding new things. It worked extremely well. For example, they took copy abilities and put them to the max: some of these abilities now have over 10 different attacks! The classic ones like fire, spark, sword or needle all got their old powers back, as well as some awesome new ones, for example the fire wheel, the needle roll, the charged-up sword attack and the spark arrow.The game also added a very good amount of new abilities, which are some of the best in the franchise. Trust me, they're absolutely great.
Another area where this game shines is in the level design: usually, in Kirby games, the level design isn't very good. This time around, however, they put long, diverse and fun levels that are pleasing to breeze through. Even the underwater levels, which everybody always hates, are better in this game than in the others. Each world progressively adds new things to the game, until you get to the later levels which are some of the best you'll see with our lovable pink puffball.
Another really interesting addition is the Lor spaceship, which contains mini-games, challenges and copy ability rooms. The challenges can be very fun to play through and get gold medals on each one. The sub-games are also very fun to play with friends. Speaking of which...
The true area where this game stands apart from the rest of the series is the multi-player. This game features 4 players co-op drop-in action. You cannot get much better than this. Even better: unlike New Super Mario Bros Wii, which had 4 playable characters that played exactly the same, Kirby's return to Dreamland features 4 playable characters, each with their own unique move-set. Wow. That means anytime while you're playing, one or more of your friends can step in the action as Meta Knight, King Dedede or Bandana Dee.
The Kirby games, sadly, have always been notorious for being ridiculously easy, with the lone exception of Kirby 64. Kirby's return to Dreamland is slightly harder than the other games. It even has moments that we could call hard. But, unfortunately, in the end, the main story is still too easy. But only the main story. Because those challenges...holy cow...those can be hard. If you call this game easy, just try to get a gold medal for each challenge on your first try. Chances are it'll take you a few tries! You can also try to defeat every boss with no copy ability. Some of the bosses can get you a run for your money if you do that. Overall, there was a lot of improvement and I find the way people shun the game for being way too easy a tad too harsh. Just you try those challenges and get a gold medal. I dare you.
The main story for this game is reasonably long for a platformer, but it's nothing too impressive. Fortunately, you also have 120 gear pieces to collect, which can take a little while, a few challenges to fully beat, which can take a while too, and three sub-games to fully complete. Overall, beating this game 100% is more than long enough to be worth buying. You can also beat the game with no copy ability, like I said earlier, but that's only if you REALLY want to push the game further.
On single-player, once you've beaten the game, then got every gear piece and finally beat every challenge with a gold medal, you might come back to it in a few months and beat it again. But let's face it: this game is even better with friends and you'll find yourself going through it a few times with other people and you'll have a blast. It's also a lot of fun to play as Meta Knight, Kind Dedede and Bandana Dee.
So, in conclusion, I can say that this game is underrated and it really deserves to be purchased, or at least rented if you don't have anybody to play it with. The pros outweigh the cons in this one (the only bad thing actually is that the game is slightly easy) and if you're a fan of Kirby games, or platformers, or multi-player games, I'd suggest you think about buying it. It'll fit more than well in your shelf, don't you think? Right next to Rayman Origins, New Super Mario Bros Wii or Donkey Kong Country Returns.
My final ranking for Kirby's return to Dreamland is 95%. This game is almost perfect, and is currently my 6th favorite Wii game, behind Smash Bros brawl, the two Zelda games and the two Mario galaxy games.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/27/12
Game Release: Kirby's Return to Dream Land (US, 10/24/11)
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