Mario is the most versatile character in the Nintendo oeuvre, but Kirby has to be a close second. Though the pink puffball may not spend his free time go-karting or playing tennis, his catalog includes a ton of experimental games and art styles that stretch the limits of what a Kirby game can be. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, a remastered version of the 2011 Wii game for Nintendo Switch, is in most ways a very traditional Kirby platformer. But its playful spirit, approachability, and a sizable new epilogue campaign make it much more than a retread.
The main story component of Return to Dream Land is a colorful romp as you restore the parts of an alien ship, set to a joyful and buoyant soundtrack. The adorably bulbous alien Magolor crash-lands on Planet Popstar and seeks help from Kirby and his friends. Those allies are a major component this time, because Dream Land features drop-in co-op for up to four players. You can include any number of multicolored Kirbys in your ranks, but you can also bring along other familiar faces: Meta Knight, Bandana Waddle Dee, and King Dedede. Each has their own move set–Meta Knight is more agile than the weighty Dedede, for example–but only Kirby has the signature Copy ability to swallow enemies.
Kirby’s combat isn’t simplistic, but it is forgiving. There’s a ton of contextual moves you can do with each Copy ability, which means you can pull off impressive juggles. But the enemies aren’t much of a threat, so you don’t really need to master the combat. It’s a different approach from some other Nintendo franchises, which use simple move sets to pull off an increasingly difficult array of challenges. This one seems more aimed at letting players meet it wherever they are.
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