Yesterday, I wrote about my return to one of the first video games I ever played and the first game I ever owned as I played Kirby’s Dreamland via the Game Boy add-on to my Nintendo Online subscription. After playing that a couple times, and in the time I could spare from playing Chained Echoes (a wonderful game you absolutely should play), I’ve been playing through Kirby’s Return to Dream Land: Deluxe. It doesn’t quite hit the same, emotionally (probably due to the lack of nostalgia), but it has the warm, pleasant, and upbeat vibe that I’ve come to associate with pretty much every Kirby game. I have only played a couple hours, so far–just enough time to really get a feel for what the game brings to the table–but that’s enough for me to be excited to continue playing. Not because I expect this game to be some kind of masterpiece, but because it has a fun, relatively simple gameplay loop and embraces being exactly what it is in a way that few game franchises ever seem to.
I’ll admit that I am mildly annoyed that it is a rerelease of a modernization of the original Kirby’s Dream Land game, mostly because I really loved Kirby and the Forgotten Land and want another game like that. It’s not a bad thing, to get an updated game with extra features and functions, especially since I never played the last iteration of it, but I could use another grand, sweeping adventure with an amazing score. After all, I’m gonna run out of Chained Echoes eventually and while Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is fun to play and has amazing music, the story it tells is pretty bland. As is the story this latest Kirby game tells. Not that I expected it to be brilliant or anything, I just know that I don’t go to Kirby games for amazing storytelling. I go for a bright, cheerful game with upbeat music and a fun gameplay loop that leans into itself in a satisfying way.
That’s probably where this game shines the most, honestly. Most of the powers are familiar to me, the levels hold no real surprises, and I know all the game’s conventions well enough to be able to keep up a good pace even on my first pass through the stages. That said, the game presents just enough of a challenge that I need to stay on my toes and I can tell the difference between my recent, sleep-deprived performance and how I performed when I was better rested the first time I played it. It doesn’t have the slightly notched-up difficulty that you could choose in Kirby and the Forgotten land, but it does have a very forgiving version of the game for those who aren’t used to Kirby games or might need the assistance. I think that the “you have to opt into the higher difficult version of the game” would have been the way to go, but that’s more about accessibility and the philosophy around that than the game itself.
It has been fun to play this game right after playing Kirby’s Dream Land. The overall organization of the game is similar so far (though there’s an overarching narrative, collectibles, and hidden parts of stages that just weren’t present in the original game), so it’s fun to compare the two. While the stages quickly deviate from what was present in Kirby’s Dream Land, there’s enough similarity in the opening moments for me to recognize a relatively minor tribute to the game that started it all. It is a small thing, but it’s a nice touch for a remake type of game to include. The music feels different, but not in a bad way. It just lacks the somewhat harsh, tinny sound of the original game. The smoother sound is also nice, but it’s difficult to fairly compare it to something with such powerful nostalgia attached to it.
I feel like I should have more to say about this game that I’m enjoying, but I really haven’t played much yet. Maybe once I’m further in and have played through more of the subgames, challenge stages, and additional content I’ll have more to say. Until then, I’m just going to conclude by saying that this is a fine example of a Kirby game and you should play it if that’s something you want in your life.