Kirby’s Return to Dreamland at PAX Prime 2011

We’ve talked about Kirby: Mass Attack for the DS and how wonderful I expect it to be based on my impressions of it at the Penny-Arcade Expo in Seattle last weekend.  So, how about the more traditional Kirby’s Return to Dreamland?  Is it enough for me to fire up the Wii again?  ]

In a word, yes.  Mass Attack is really a departure from the Kirby formula that fans know and love, but Return to Dreamland gives more of a throwback feel, hence the whole ‘Return’ in the name.  You will be tackling enemies you’ve seen before, in levels that look like ones you’ve seen before.  In fact, at the end of the demo level that I played, guess who I fought?  If you guessed a tree, you’d be right.  We all know Nintendo are the masters at giving fans the nostalgia that they want, while at the same time innovating and making the games new and exciting.  We saw it masterfully done with New Super Mario Brothers Wii.  It was the Mario platformer we played 26 years ago, yet at the same time it was a brand new game.  In my short time with Kirby, I think I can make the same pronouncement about it.

You’re still Kirby, you can still absorb enemies that give you abilities (and several different attacks per ability) and you can still fly.  You can also run, which is helpful when you’re running away from things like we did in the demo, which adds a nice bit of tension.  It has drop in and drop out 4-player multiplayer, which ramps up the awesome, just like it did in New Super Mario Brothers Wii.  It didn’t seem as immediately ripe for antagonism, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t intentionally kill one of my teammates just to see if it could be done.  What’s nice about Kirby, is that you don’t have to be Toad.  Apologizes to Toad fans out there, but I just find him an annoying ancillary character.  You can play as Meta Knight, King Dedede, Waddle Dee or (I was told) as multiple Kirbys in the final game.  You can ride on each other, and of course you can be sucked up and shot at enemies.  Only Kirby can suck up enemies, but the others have weapons to use.

One new thing is the ability for Kirby to suck up stars that grow him to Mega Mario size, and give him a super-ability.  In our demo, this equated to a screen-filling super attack that destroyed certain parts of the terrain, often obliterating obstacles.  When used quickly with running, we were able to get to a part of the level that, if we had dilly-dallied around with the super ability, would have been inaccessible.  Not a new gameplay idea, but still one that works well.  And really, screen-filling super attacks are always fun.

So, what did I think of Kirby’s Return to Dreamland?  I think it set out to do for Kirby what New Super Mario Brothers Wii did for Mario.  And that’s a good thing.  I went to the demo area very unsure of what I would be seeing, and left excited for two more releases on Nintendo’s outgoing platforms. Stay tuned for my review, it comes out October 24th


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Author: Micah View all posts by
Micah has been playing games since his first pong machine, and has been writing for as long as he could grip a pencil and not drool on the paper. So, for about a week.

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