Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe review: Back in the pink

(Switch) *** Age: 7+

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Ronan Price

Why should the adults have all the fun, wonders Kirby’s maker. Or remaker, we should say.

Twelve years on from the original Return to Dream Land in the dying days of the Wii console’s life cycle, this Deluxe edition ventures beyond a simple remaster. The fundamentals remain the same, however: a very child-friendly platforming romp with Kirby, everybody’s favourite pink blob.

While modern gaming leans increasingly towards strenuous difficulty levels, Kirby’s adventures could charitably be described as unchallenging. But that is to misunderstand his target market. Return to Dream Land Deluxe simply wants to give younger players a good time – more seasoned gamers just need to embrace its relaxing nature.

However, don’t expect the same quality bar set by 2022’s stonking Kirby and the Forgotten Land. That 3D outing riffed brilliantly on the best of Kirby’s abilities but Return to Dream Land Deluxe sticks with the 2D plane of its original. Although dressed in spanking HD visuals, it still has the air of decade-old ideas.

As always, our hero meets little resistance from the enemies he faces as he explores a familiar landscape of platforms, hills and caverns. Overpowered by default and with an infinitely floaty jump, Kirby’s reaching the end of the level is rarely if ever in doubt.

His signature trick is to copy the abilities of his foes – so that he may wield a dagger, a whip, spikes, electricity and many more. Even bosses crumble before his attacks. And that’s before he pulls out the supers such as the screen-filling dragon or gigantic sword.

As if that wasn’t enough to soften the challenge, up to three other players can drop in to assist Kirby, a feature useful for the very young gamer who welcomes help from a parent.

New to the 2023 version is a series of frantic mini-games, both single and multiplayer, plus a new endgame mode unlocked when you complete the main storyline. Both count as worthwhile additions and extend the relatively short life span of the core game.

Nonetheless, the question still hangs in the air as to why Nintendo should be exhuming a title that didn’t set the world alight in the first place. Having been spoiled by the inventive creativity of Kirby and the Forgotten Lands, perhaps Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a little too traditional for its own good.