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Kirby's Return to Dream Land Review

Paul Goodman | 8 Nov 2011 21:00
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Along with the ship pieces, you'll also be able to pick up Energy Spheres that are hidden throughout the normal and void levels, they're not entirely vital to the plot and are mostly for unlocking the bonus skill challenges or the two mini-games. Titled Ninja Dojo and Scope Shot, the mini-games give you a chance to get a little more use out of the Wii Remote. For Ninja Dojo you'll be flicking your wrist like you're throwing a Frisbee to hit targets with a ninja star, and Scope Shot lets you blast away at enemy robots using the Wii-mote like a laser gun. The mini-games are a fun distraction, but as there's only two of them, they feel like something that's been tacked on last minute.

Probably the biggest detriment to Return to Dream Land is an issue with repetition and the nagging feeling there's a lack of challenge in some of the various stages. Health power-ups are just about everywhere and you'll rack up plenty of extra lives pretty easily. Poor Kirby can bite the dust if he takes too many hits, but death is more or less a temporary set-back rather than anything to be concerned about, especially since there's also an unlimited number of continues should your life counter hit zero. At worst, you'll end up restarting at a previous checkpoint or at the start of the stage. Besides the occasional fall off the screen to my death thanks to poor timing or judgment of distance, I was able to jump through a good chunk of the stages with just a few bruises, and didn't really worry about my spare lives until the start of the fifth world.

Each world has its own boss to defeat in order to recover a piece of the Lor, but none of them pose much of an obstacle until maybe about the fourth or fifth world. Most of the time, it's just a simple matter of doing as much damage as fast as possible and then on to the next level. Planning or timing attacks didn't really enter into it until past the mid-game.

There are also several dozen sub-boss fights throughout the game, but you'll end up fighting them over and over a half dozen times or so. It was kind of disappointing that there wasn't much variety, especially since there are literally dozens of regular enemies that could've had their own version of a sub-boss. Even the Sphere Doomers in the optional levels don't seem to switch up their strategy until about halfway through.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land is a mostly good game that starts out strong, but then starts to drag its feet before finding its footing again in some of the later stages. The challenges of getting through a tricky environmental puzzle or past a boss can be hit-or-miss, but it's countered somewhat by the variety of the abilities Kirby can pick up, and the different ways you can work your way through a stage using them. There are not many extras to look into besides collecting the energy spheres, and, unless you're a completionist, you may not spend a great deal of effort collecting everything.

Bottom Line: Kirby's Return to Dream Land is a good, solid platformer with several fun quirks, but has an issue with reusing the same gameplay elements for some of the stages and a rollercoaster-style of difficulty level.

Recommendation: Kirby fans will enjoy Return to Dream Land and, if you can overlook some of its flaws with repetition, it's a fun game worth at least a play through.

Score:

Game: Kirby's Return to Dream Land
Genre: Platforming
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform(s): Wii
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US)

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