Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe Review

Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe is more Kirby, which should make fans of the series happy. Check out our review!

Published: March 10, 2023 11:00 AM /

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kirby's return to dreamland deluxe

Hot off the trail of last year's Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a familiar experience for many Kirby fans, yet one that I, unfortunately, missed out on. Now, I've seen and played a lot of Kirby games in my time, and I can't help but experience deja vu. It's another Kirby game. You know what it's going to entail. As this is a port from a 2011 Wii title, however, there are a few new incentives to play since Nintendo included new modes, features, and enhanced visuals.

Check out my sick mask!

Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe - More Kirby, More Deluxe

You might feel a bit of whiplash playing Kirby's Return to Dream Land after the previous installment in the series, Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Going back to the traditional side-scrolling gameplay, the Kirby series is known for its a linear experience in nature and features plenty of foes, deadly obstacles, and light puzzle elements. And of course, sucking up enemies grants Kirby different copy abilities, a feature synonymous with the series.

To say Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe is special in any way is difficult for me to say -- having played many Kirby games in my time, it doesn't deviate from the norm and plays as one would expect. There is the usual mechanical depth in Kirby's copy abilities and the different moves you can dish out on enemies and bosses, but that's to be expected. Level design doesn't stand out in any particular way, but is still enjoyable to tackle. As players of the series would come to expect, you'll go through a green, woodsy area in the first group of levels and onward to beaches, snowy environments, and more. I can't be too harsh on Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe since it's enhancing a game now over a decade old, but it also makes me realize that the series definitely needed a change in direction, as we saw with last year's entry.

Though the first good portion of Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe is fairly unremarkable -- or even tedious at times with a handful of levels comprising mostly water -- the latter half features more creative locations and enemies. These later levels deviate from the upbeat, bright look Kirby is known for and gets a bit more dark and more mysterious. The challenge ramps up as well, with enemies being more deviously placed and obstacles out to actually frustrate and block your progress. Alas, the difficulty does remain relatively trivial throughout the entire experience, especially with the Helper Magalor mode.

Those smiles won't fool me.

Nintendo sure loves to implement helper modes in their ports, as we saw with the Funky Mode for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. In Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe, the Helper Magalor mode gives you an extra health bar and prevents you from losing a life if you fall off a cliff. It doesn't make you invincible, but it sure feels like it. From an accessibility standpoint, this is fantastic, and the more that can play a game the better. In terms of challenge, it's going to make things too easy for most players that are familiar with platformers. Definitely play with this off if you're looking to have a bit of difficulty.

Other new features take the form of a theme park called Merry Magoland and an epilogue chapter. The former is a hub where players can partake in a handful of subgames and earn rewards. Rewards come in the form of masks which can be worn during the story mode and when playing minigames. Though they serve as nothing other than cosmetics, I found myself weirdly addicted to unlocking them -- and there is a lot to unlock. These masks take the form of friends and foes from just about every Kirby game, so it's a bit of a celebration for the series in some ways.

magalor epilogue
Comboing enemies with your abilities yield more rewards in the Magalor Epilogue.

The latter feature is the Magalor Epilogue, which takes place right after the events of the story. Players take the role of the alien Magalor in this one, and he functions rather differently from our pink friend. Magalor starts out with just a few powers, but as you progress through various stages in the Epilogue, you're able to gather currency to upgrade powers and reach new heights. Your attacks can become stronger and more complex; for example, Magalor can create bombs or shoot balls of energy that get more potent as you upgrade them.

Nintendo often adds on an extra mode or two when porting their games to the Switch. Having played Bowser's Fury, a robust new experience tacked onto the port for Super Mario 3D Land, I was very intrigued. This mode functions the same as an extra set of levels, except with a different character. I appreciate the opportunity to control a new character, use different abilities, and have some more challenge too. Honestly, I wished the main game felt as enjoyable as this mode. Though Magalor's powers aren't as complex as some of Kirby's copy abilities, playing a fresh experience with Kirby flavor made it stand out among the rest. Though brief, it's worth players' time and is some of the best content Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe has to offer.

As you can see, it's a fine-looking game.

Kirby's Return to Dreamland Deluxe | Final Thoughts

With enhanced graphics that surpass that of the Wii version, Kirby's Return to Dreamland Deluxe is a pretty looking game. It's certainly not the best looking even by Switch standards, but the colors and artistic design is always on point in the series. Kirby and the Forgotten Land looks quite a bit better, but that has a slightly more realistic look whereas Return to Dreamland Deluxe goes heavy on the series' signature cartoon style. All that said, it's great that the visuals go beyond just a simple port and really enhances the look of the original.

The unintended side effect of reviewing a Kirby game is, how can I describe it as something other than, well, Kirby? In truth, it's hard to say that Kirby's Return to Dream Land offers something different from most other entries in the series. Be that as it may, Kirby is and always will be an enjoyable, if imitative experience, and that is certainly true for this entry. Going forward, I hope HAL Laboratory continues to deviate from the Kirby norm as they did with the Forgotten Land and even the Magalor Epilogue, but I suppose only time will tell.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a copy purchased by the reviewer over the course of 10 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.

Review Summary

It's another Kirby game, which means it's light, enjoyable fun with little to no padding. The Deluxe version includes an Epilogue worth playing, and graphical enhancements make it a charming game to look at. (Review Policy)


  • Latter Half Picks Up in Creativity
  • Merry Magoland Mask Collecting is Addicting, Epilogue Chapter Worthwhile
  • Crisp New Visuals


  • Earlier Levels Aren't Very Exciting
  • Fails to Differentiate Itself Among Other Kirby Titles

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| Staff Writer

Austin cut his teeth writing various  fan-fiction stories on the RuneScape forums when he was in elementary school. Later on, he developed a deep love for… More about Austin