Me too, TAMKfan. I would love to experience it because all the videos I've seen have made it look so fun. I don't care if it's basically too easy. Kirby's Epic Yarn was an excellent game and it wasn't very hard. If the game is fun it's fun!
I am not too sure, but I might have broken my personal record for shortest review ever since I started putting some actual time into writing them. The game was a blast to play, and I hope you guys enjoy this review. I have just purchased a Nintendo 3DS, and I am on my way on Ocarina of Time 3D. However, I am taking my time with that title because I don't want to get too deep into it to avoid some sort of Zelda fatigue by the time Skyward Sword comes around. Fortunately, I have got Rayman Origins to distract me from being mind-blown by the amazing 3DS effects. Anyway, read it if you want to, recommend it if you like it.
No warning this time folks, it is a small review after all
Return to Dreamland does everything right, but it does not excel at anything
In the midst of the recent Kirby revival started by Nintendo, we have seen the charming pink ball go through some rather exotic transformations that nearly turned the series on its head. On Canvas curse, Kirby lost not only his ability to rob enemies of their powers, but also his limbs, making him lose the biggest part of his functional mobility; on Epic Yarn he still lacked his traditional sucking skill, but he gained a fast yarn whip to deal with cloth enemies; finally, Mass Attack brought back the enemy gulping, but divided the character into one wacky ten-unity army that swarmed enemies like a pink and more cuddly Pikmin squad. After this rodeo of quirkiness, Nintendo decided it was about time they went back to basics by crafting a Kirby game that aside from looking like a traditional puffball platformer, also played precisely like one. And that is what Kirby's Return to Dreamland is: a smart return to form that feels like a warm homecoming that is made even sweeter by the fact that you have been away from it for so long.
As it appears, strolling through Dreamland has become increasingly dangerous on the past few months, for once again – when having fun with Dedede, Meta Knight and Waddle Dee – Kirby puts himself in a complicated position when they witness a damaged ship fall in a nearby location and the gang decides to take it upon themselves to help the poor alien life form that is inside whose damaged ship has lost five parts. From that point on you know the drill, it is up to you to find the five pieces that are properly guarded by bosses waiting for you at the end of distinct worlds. In total, the game features eight worlds, eight bosses and around forty stages that range from being as easy as pie to as soft as cotton candy. There is some challenge here and there, especially if players are looking to locate the not-so-hidden 120 power spheres scattered through the stages, but the joy of playing a Kirby game is not overcoming a hardship, but being delighted by the straightforward nature of this platformer and enjoying the ride up to the end. Anyone who cannot enjoy a game devoid of major ordeals, will most likely not be engaged by this game – or any Kirby titles for that matter
The game plays pretty much on the same way that the original Kirby's Adventure, from the very early nineties, did. Kirby is one slow floaty character who has the ability to suck enemies up and steal their abilities in order to destroy other foes or to advance through a specific part of a level, which allows for some nicely varied stage-design opportunities. All of the conventional abilities are here: Kirby can turn into a rock, gain electrical powers, become one spiky ball, spit fire or ice, throw bombs, fly, spin around creating a tornado, wield a sword, use a boomerang, carry a whip, turn into a ninja, sleep, punch, kick and do a few other things. There are even some instances where you acquire super powered versions of some of those abilities to create even more mayhem around the level destroying everything in your path with the press of a button, and – in the gaming world - there are not many activities that top the satisfaction of causing so much destruction in a level.
If Mario sidescrollers are generally considered family games, the Kirby games take that concept to an even more extreme level, because not only are they easier for kids to succeed, but they also beat Mario on the cuteness factor. Kirby's Return to Dreamland takes advantage of that and, in the spirit of New Super Mario Bros Wii, brings a cooperative mode where Kirby, Meta Knight, Dedede and Waddle Dee work together to get to the end of the levels – with Kirby obviously being the only one who is able to copy abilities. It blatantly makes things much easier than they already are, but while it loses on the challenge department, this multiplayer option clearly beats the lonely single-player mode in terms of laughs and hilarious moments. If there is one thing to complain about regarding this option, is the fact that if the leading players falls to his doom, the team automatically returns to the end of the area they find themselves in; and if that happens with no lives left, everybody has to start the whole level again, while if somebody else had died, nothing would have happened and that player would come back to the action. It makes things unbalanced and puts extra pressure on whoever is leading the way, which goes against the family fun purpose of the whole mode.
At the end of the adventure there is still plenty to get out of the game. It comes packed with nice extras such as another Story Mode where Kirby has his energy bar nearly cut in half, adding some of the challenge that regular adventure lacks so strongly; some amazing challenges featuring some of Kirby's special powers and cleverly set obstacle courses that test your abilities with some of the character's most unique powers and some nice multiplayer mini-games that are more than perfect for when you and your friends are looking to take a break from the pace of the standard adventure. Like it happens in all Kirby games, Return to Dreamland has a lot of content to up its replay value.
Finding fault in Kirby's Return to Dreamland is a hard task. It is game with good level design, a large set of enemies, good graphics – bland backgrounds, but great character models, catchy little songs, fun multiplayer, decent scenario variety, engaging boss battles and compelling collectibles. The fact that makes it stand a few notches below other equally good Wii sidescrollers is the fact that while it doesn't do anything woefully wrong, it doesn't do anything wonderfully right either. It is a game that doesn't innovate, rarely surprises and hardly does anything new or different. Being a long awaited revival of the traditional Kirby formula quietly clouds the lack of excellence that can be found throughout the game. In the end, Kirby's Return to Dreamland just does not mesmerize, it simply does its job of entertaining for ten hours and then proceeds to leave the stage for a few applauses from the crowd. It walks on a very safe line, and as a Kirby platformer it does what it is supposed to do, but when put in the light of comparison to Donkey Kong Country Returns and even Kirby's Epic Yarn, it falls short.
I agree it's no Epic Yarn or DKCR, though I have to say I was surprised when I beat the fifth world, expecting the final boss, and then all of a sudden it's like "Oh, by the way, there's more game!" Definitely better than what its been getting, but an undeniable charm.