Kirby's Return to Dream Land is a 2D side-scroller platformer where four players can work together to overcome obstacles. The playable characters are Kirby, Meta Knight, Waddle Dee and King Dedede, each character featuring their own moves. Players also have the option as having as many Kirbies as they want (up to four) at the same time. The gameplay hearkens back to Kirby's signature inhaling and copy ability play.
It is the second Kirby game for the Wii and first console Kirby game made by series creator Hal Laboratory since Kirby Air Ride for the Nintendo Gamecube. As of April 2012, the game has sold 1.31 million copies worldwide.
Kirby's Return to Dreamland was long thought by fans to be vapor ware. Originally intended to be released on Nintendo Gamecube as Kirby Adventure (announced at E3 in 2005), the game was stalled and restarted several times over the intervening years. With the announcement of Kirby's Epic Yarn in 2010, the game was assumed to have been cancelled. Thus it was to considerable surprise to the gaming community when Kirby's Return to Dreamland was announced in 2011 as still being actively developed. The game was subsequently retitled Kirby's Return to Dreamland, while the European release retained the Kirby Adventure Wii moniker.
The game's story follows Kirby, and his friends as they help a new alien friend, Magolor, find his way home. Kirby and his friends are still playing a game of keep-away with Kirby's strawberry shortcake slice from Kirby Squeak Squad when an alien spaceship, the Lor Starcutter, suddenly crash lands nearby onto Planet Pop Star, smashing it into pieces. Kirby and his friends then meet Magolor and learn of his mysterious plight. The player(s) must search the whole planet to find all the missing spaceship pieces so that their new friend Magolor can rebuild his ship and return home!
Kirby's Return to Dreamland returns Kirby's mechanics to series roots. The pink puffball's classic inhaling, ability copying platforming gameplay is a throwback to earlier games in the series. This time however players now have 4 different characters to choose from each with their unique ability sets and can have up to three other players join them in co-op.
Player 1, who can only select Pink Kirby, is clearly intended as the lead character. Players 2-4 assuming more of a sidekick role can play Meta Knight, Waddle Dee and King Dedede or any of three palette swapped versions of Kirby. The players also share lives in a similarly asymmetric fashion. If players 2-4 die they can re-enter and exit the game as any character they like, but doing so consumes one of Player 1's lives. However if Player 1 dies, the whole team dies simultaneously. Furthermore only Player 1 can exit/enter a stage and if the other players fall too far behind they will be warped to where Player 1 is.
Players have a few co-op special abilities they can use to help each other. Any player can carry another player and players can share recently eaten food with each other via mouth-to-mouth transfer to regain lost health. Kirby alone also can also swallow and spit out any of the other players as a projectile weapon.
The players race through 2d stages selected from the world map looking for missing spaceship pieces, fighting bosses and traversing hidden monochrome negative zones along the way.
As the main star, Kirby features by far the most abilities of the potential player characters.
Kirby can inhale objects or enemies which can either swallow or spit out as projectiles. New to Return to Dreamland, Kirby can now inhale multiple enemies and objects at once to spit out a much larger energy star. Players achieve this by shaking the wiimote.
If Kirby swallows certain enemies he will gain their abilities to use to attack other enemies or clear environmental obstacles. He Kirby can only use one copied ability at a time and loses any ability he relinquishes until he inhales another enemy that possesses that ability. Each ability is accompanied by its' own signature hat that Kirby wears.
Also new to Return to Dreamland Kirby now also has special enemy characters that allow him to copy "Super Abilities". Super Abilities are much more powerful than regular abilities and can devastate multiple enemies at once, e.g. the "Ultra Sword" ability shown on the game's box art can slash nearly across the entire screen. Super Abilities are often useful in solving environmental puzzles that can lead to Hidden Negative Zones. Unlike regular copy abilities Super Abilities have a limited duration and will eventually expire after enough time passes.
Kirby's classic copy abilities return as seen here on the Kirby character page. But he also has gained some new ones as follows
Kirby can now wield a sword and use it as a melee charge attack and lightning slices.
Kirby can fire energy projectiles at enemies from a magic wand.
Kirby can be in a whirlwind of leaves using them to attack to his enemies.
Kirby can now wield a whip to attack his enemies.
Kirby's Super Abilities are essentially deliberately overpowered versions of some of his regular
- Ultra Sword is a gigantic version of sword that cut down enemies and Mountains.
- Monster Flame is a super charged version of Fire which can also incinerate Trees.
- Flare Beam is a super charged version of Beam.
- Grand Hammer is gigantic version of Hammer.
- Snow Ball turns Kirby into a huge snowball and can knock over enemies.
Other Character Abilities
For the most part King Dedede, Waddle Dee and Meta Knight, mainly just attack with their signature weapons. Hammer for King Dedede, Spear for Waddle Dee and Sword for Meta Knight. Each has abilities similar to what Kirby uses when he uses their weapons. E.g. Meta Knight's sword ability set is the same as Kirby's.
They lack Kirby's ability copy function altogether and thus are stuck using one set of moves.
Like most Kirby games the game is fairly well liked for its innovative ideas by critics but is also considered pretty easy. A few critics have felt it's a bit let down after two very innovative titles in Kirby's Epic Yarn and Kirby Mass Attack.