cube's Kirby's Return to Dreamland (Wii) review

Kirby's last outing on the Wii is a fitting installment.

The charming impression Kirby tends to leave on most people is something a lot of competitors just can't seem to produce. Arguably Nintendo's cutest, and perhaps most accessible mascot, Kirby has generally been a character who's never quite seen the spotlight to the extent Mario or Zelda have. But Kirby always seems to land a quality gig, and with Return to Dream Land, the trend remains true as we see the pink puff end his Wii career with some classic co-operative platforming action.

Unlike Epic Yarn, which took a totally different approach to the series, Kirby is back to his old self, sucking and blowing enemies away left and right. Of course, he's got the copy abilities you've seen before, but he's added Super Abilities, where certain copy abilities get a shot in the arm and go mega-size. One, for example, is the Ultra Sword, where Kirby can basically destroy anything on the screen with one swing. The Super Abilities are very fun to play around with, and they're actually a big part of levels and bosses.

The story starts off with Kirby, King Dedede, Waddle Dee, and Meta Knight just chilling out in Dream Land, when a spaceship pummels into the ground, and the subsequent blast scatters the ships various parts across the land. You meet the captain of the Lor Starcutter, a dude named Magolor, and he pleads that you must help him acquire his ships missing parts. You take his offer. It wouldn't be a game if you didn't, right?

As mentioned before, the game has a good co-operative mode. Up to four players can get in on the action, playing as any one of Kirby's companions, or as an extra, different-coloured Kirby. You're going to want to be careful, because you share lives with your compatriots, so if your friends die a lot, they'll drain your lives. But I found that it only really mattered if first player died. Once your lives go to zero, if second player dies, they can come back with a little health in their bar. If player one dies, that's it, game over. Separating the life count may have been a good idea.

The main storyline won't take you more than six or seven hours to beat, which is pretty par for the course. The story is alright, but there's nothing particularly memorable there. Some less than surprising things unfold, and while I enjoyed completing the story, I never went in focusing on it. The game is just fun over folklore.

There are a few minigames included in the package, after one or two plays of them and I got bored of it. And that may really be the bulk of any problem Kirby will have. The length of the game is short with no enticement to go back to it, save for wanting to play through it again.

But the point of Kirby is the impression it leaves upon you. He's just so damn adorable you could potentially overlook a lot of stuff. I think the game really shines when you just take it all in - go slow on levels, admire the craft, take it easy. It's when you decide to rush through the game where you'll feel like you didn't get your money's worth. Return to Dream Land has a few shortcomings, but the game is a Kirby super-fan's fantasy. It's a fitting close to Kirby's short, but worth experiencing, Wii outings.

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