Kirby Returns to Dream Land (Hands-On) (Wii) Preview

By Adam Riley 08.08.2011

Review for Kirby Returns to Dream Land (Hands-On) on Wii

The Kirby series has been going since the days of the Game Boy in the early 1990s and has proved to be a massive success in both Japan and the US. However, it was only with the recent Kirby’s Epic Yarn that the diminutive character gained major chart status here in the UK and rest of Europe. With that Good Feel-developed title paving the way for improved sales, now Nintendo and HAL Laboratory are ready to return Kirby to his rightful home of Dream Land once more, resurrecting the old GameCube project for the tail end of the Wii console’s life. Cubed3 recently tried out a couple of stages from Kirby Returns to Dream Land to see how faithful it is to previous 2D adventures.

Nintendo has sat back and watched as the classic 2D platform genre has had a massive revival, mainly thanks to the release of two New Super Mario Bros. titles, which were then followed by Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Donkey Kong Country Returns. It is no surprise then to find that Kirby Returns to Dream Land ditches any sort of 3D world approach in favour of the tried-and-tested side-scrolling gameplay style. It is basically a solo adventure through and through, although having the chance to include three friends during the journey definitely opens it up to family game nights due to the drop-in, drop-out nature of the multiplayer aspect.

Whilst four players joined in the fun during the demo edition, however, it placed one person as Kirby, with the others taking on the roles of Meta Knight, Waddle Dee, and King Dedede. Unfortunately this meant that three people were left to merely wander around doing barely anything. Kirby has all the special powers and can go through doorways, whilst the rest simply cannot, thus leaving the group to do only the donkey work, removing obstacles and killing enemies, which grew amazingly boring after a short time. Watching the difference in body language between players working through long stages as the support characters and the person playing as Kirby was quite stark. Later, however, a Nintendo representative confirmed that there will actually be an option to all play as different coloured Kirby characters in the final game, thus allowing for the main abilities to be utilised by everyone. Whether or not the difficulty changes is currently unknown, but hopefully it will or else Kirby Returns to Dream Land may well be a very short-lived affair.

Screenshot for Kirby Returns to Dream Land (Hands-On) on Wii

To summarise the plot briefly, an alien spacecraft has crashed into Pop Star, with its broken pieces being spread far and wide. Kirby and his cohorts travel across the land, retrieving the ship sections so that the foreign beings can return to their homeland. Interestingly enough, the traditional Kirby manoeuvre of swallowing enemies and taking on their abilities has been greatly augmented to the point where a massive sword can be whipped out of nowhere to smash through previously indestructible blocks, or a gigantic fire dragon can be spewed forth to singe everything in sight. Players can also jump on top of each other and be carried for a while, as well as sharing energy with those running low on reserves. This is the Kirby we all know and love, but with some extra flavouring.

As with previous Kirby outings, there are numerous extras hidden around stages, meaning that a keen eye is required to ensure everything is acquired before the final goal is reached. When three players are tagging along, this sometimes involves the whole team playing nicely, grabbing keys and then going back through a level to unlock certain aspects. When holding a key, however, it must be noted that Kirby (or one of the other team-mates) can no longer fly and greater care must be taken when traversing treacherous gaps. This was something that everyone kept forgetting in the demo trial, resulting in numerous untimely deaths!

Screenshot for Kirby Returns to Dream Land (Hands-On) on Wii

Also of interest is how Kirby now has a super-suck ability, whereby holding down the ‘1’ button (the game is played with the Wii Remote being held on its side) and shaking the controller instigates a new move that can help with the collection of heavier items and blocks. A swift shake or two of the Wii Remote also helps break free when an enemy is trying to quickly digest Kirby. There is nothing particularly tough throughout Kirby Returns to Dream Land, as with most Kirby adventures, and the new moves almost make matters even simpler, yet the fun element of Kirby adventures is always the exploration, the light-hearted soundtrack and the bright, breezy and amazingly colourful environments to play through, all of which are back with great aplomb. Thankfully the special power-ups mentioned earlier are time-limited, so at least there is chance of keeping the gigantic sword to smash through the whole stage to make progress even easier. It is also hoped that their availability is restricted, or else it could become a case of too much, too often, and with longer than normal animations they could prove to be a tiresome addition if overly used.

Screenshot for Kirby Returns to Dream Land (Hands-On) on Wii

Kirby can pick up normal attacks along the way, so fear not as they have not been forgotten about. In fact, in addition to the standard moves such as the beam and cutter transformations, new forms of offense appear to have joined the line-up, with there being the chance to use a whip, throw water, and even fling homing-missile style leaves. The weird and wonderful attacking abilities that Kirby can use has become a staple feature of previous entries, and it looks like Return to Dream Land will not disappoint, whilst also including a whole host of new, intriguing features to keep long-term followers happy. The length of levels is a very pleasing aspect, and it definitely looks like although the difficulty level has not been upped considerably, HAL Laboratory has decided to extend the length and cram each stage with numerous collectibles to add to the replay value and general longevity. As long as there are no development foibles before release, this should be the next million-selling Wii game, without any doubt. The excitement that had been built up for Hoshi no Kirby back when it was announced on the GameCube has just increased ten-fold.

Screenshot for Kirby Returns to Dream Land (Hands-On) on Wii

Final Thoughts

Cubed3 has long been a big supporter of the Kirby platform series, with the likes of Nightmare in Dream Land (GBA), Amazing Mirror (GBA), Mouse Attack (DS) and Super Star Ultra (DS) all scoring high in recent years. With HAL Laboratory trying something new for Kirby Mass Attack on Nintendo DS, it is pleasing to see something for traditional fans on Wii. Kirby Returns to Dream Land currently looks to be a fantastic companion to New Super Mario Bros., Wario Land: The Shake Dimension and Donkey Kong Country Returns and a superb successor to Kirby’s Epic Yarn.

Also known as

Kirby's Return to Dream Land


HAL Laboratory




2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Cheeseburger Player (guest) 09.08.2011#1!

Sounds excellent, and the 4-player co-operative seems the icing on the delicious HAL cake.

Can the non-Kirby folk get powers too?

Definitely need more local multiplayer games, especially on the Wii after the sublime New Super Mario Bros.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
AdamC3 (guest) 09.08.2011#3

Jorge, sadly not. I mentioned in the article how the other three players, myself included, were looking so bored. Run, jump, use the standard attack. That's it.

I hope what the rep said was true and there is indeed a four-Kirby mode, or else I'll be playing this alone.

I'm sure there will be, I mean Kirby comes in just as many colors as Yoshi does....even if it's just color swaps to represent multiplayer & Smash Bros. players. I remember there being a green, yellow & red Kirby in Multiplayer modes of Kirby Super Star in the good ol SNES!!

It is not wise to speak on subjects you do not know all facts about, nor is it smart to judge a game based on looks alone. PSN: Nintendo_Gamer 3DS: 4296-3029-7422

Exactly - I see no reason for the rep to make up the info! There will, after all, be people of similar skill levels that all want a piece of the Kirby super power action...As I mention in the preview, though, the difficulty will have to be upped in that scenario, or else it'll be a walk in the park.

Cheeseburger Player (guest) said:!

I'm right with you there! Was great fun...and, dare I say it, better than Epic Yarn Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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