Kirby is one of Nintendo’s mascots that I really haven’t gotten into, I mean he looks cool, has interesting powers and reminds me of Jigglypuff. However, I just NEVER really bought his games or went out on hunts to play them. That is until now, my Wii and Wii U have sat around unloved for far too long, so I decided to track down some of the lesser known titles released at the end of the console’s lifespan, one of those games was Kirby’s Return to Dreamland. Now, this game was difficult to find but I do not regret hunting it down and paying somewhat handsomely for it. HAL Laboratory, best known for Earthbound, made Kirby extremely fun, entertaining, and enjoyable. I’m glad that I’m finally firing up my Wii again and oddly enough it is for a pink little creature that quite literally sucks.
As with most platformers the story is pretty flimsy and to the point. A ship crash-lands in Dreamland and Kirby and his pals arrive and offer their assistance to repair the downed craft. You have to traverse five worlds to get the five missing ship pieces that will get this fellow home. Along the way you can pick up “energy spheres” that will unlock rooms in the ship. These rooms have challenges for you, both solo play and co-op play. The campaign was more interesting than the challenges, but I’m a campaign kind of guy. The campaign plays almost exactly like a Mario game, there is a giant hub world when you unlock levels by beating the previous levels. It is such a simple formula, but man it works well even years after we first saw it. I guess you can’t fix what isn’t broken!
The controls are very easy to use, this isn’t one of those annoying waggle games. Instead Hal Laboratory decided to use the WiiMote to almost recreate the original NES controller. You use the D-pad to move, pressing 2 gets you airborne and holding it allows you to float around. If you press 1 you will suck anything in your path into your mouth, should you eat someone who may have powers you can press down on the d-pad and your Kirby will be super powered. These superpowers are very useful in boss fights, if you go in with a naked Kirby you might have a tough go of it. When you find a large obstacle in your way Kirby can take care of that too, with a little help from you, holding 1 and shaking the WiiMote really allows Kirby to suck up the big enemies and obstacles. Of course, you collect things in this title, the ‘energy spheres’ and ‘stars,’ the more ‘stars’ you collect, the more lives you will gain due to the fact that every 100 ‘stars’ equals a free life.
The entire look of this game is amazing, even though the Wii was a bit weaker on the graphics front, the team at Hal Laboratory really pushed the machine to its limit. The colors pop off the screen, the enemies, while repetitive look great as they try to end your pink little life. I was honestly taken aback by how great this game look on a decades old console and wished that more developers attempted to push the Wii to its limits while it was still in production. The music is also pretty phenomenal, it is poppy, upbeat and fits the feel of the game perfectly. All of these factors rolled into one make me upset that this is really the first time I’ve gotten into a Kirby game. I played Epic Kirby for about 20 minutes then moved onto something else, looks like I’ll be popping that in again real soon.
I hope that on the Switch Nintendo and Hal Laboratory decide to make more traditional Kirby games. Kirby’s Epic Yarn is cool, but not as magical as this title was. It is sad that you can beat a world in about half an hour and that you can count all the worlds on one hand. I wish this game had been beefier, but because I thirst for more I’m going to go hunting for more Kirby games. This game would have been more fun for me had I had friends to play with, you can co-op with up to four people and I’m thinking back in the day, before all my friends became grown ups, that would have been a blast. Don’t get me wrong, this game was still extremely fun to play alone, but if you have some roommates or kiddos that like to play with, you should grab this title. Any platforming fan should have this on their shelf as well, it isn’t a title that should be missed, and I’m glad I finally decided to grab it and give it a go, I wasn’t disappointed.
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