Kirby is an odd franchise, in that many of the better titles starring the pink blob have arguably been spin offs, or on the more experimental side.
Be it the accelerometer-tastic Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble on the Game Boy Color, or the scribble happy Kirby: Power Paintbrush for the DS. Even last year’s Kirby and the Forgotten Land was a mildly diverting step away from the norm for the series.
That norm, of course, revolves around the 2D titles starring Kirbs. It’s not too controversial to say these are generally very gentle platformers made for younger players – who find the antics of Mario, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi a touch too difficult.
And this latest title for the sucking pink monster – a remaster of Kirby’s Adventure on the Wii – does not buck that trend. Which is more than a little disappointing.
For those not in the know, Kirby is an all powerful protagonist – possibly one of the most overpowered in all of gaming.
You can jump and then float indefinitely, and also inhale your foes and inherit their abilities. Often the abilities you gain are even more powerful than those shown by the enemy in the first place too. Wait, did we say ‘often’? We meant always.
This is one of our major issues with a game that looks great – the visuals are crisp, clear and colourful – and often has some interesting ideas. All these nice details are all but missed because everything is so easy to blunder your way through.
Taking damage is a mere annoyance rather than something that ever threatens your massive health bar emptying. So in turn you lose all interest, unless you happen to be under the age of five.
Even the harder difficulty mode is only unlocked when you complete the game, and there are even options to simplify things further – such as the ability to turn off death via falling.
It makes it all feel like a demo showreel at times, and one extended to sometimes a painful length.
Levels often lack any real flow, simply bounding from one set piece to another – or another simple A to B line where every enemy is simple cannon fodder to be breezed straight through. Even bosses – mini and main – can be beaten by mindless button mashing.
When it comes to level locations things can often feel a little lazy as well, with deserts, volcanos, and snow stages being rolled out with no major attempts to mix things up.
Even the title’s main selling point – that you can play it with up to four people in local co-op – makes matters even simpler. In fact it ruins the balance of the game even further, as there’s no increase in enemies or difficulty to compensate for the extra player/s.
It’s a shame because Kirby’s Return To Dream Land Deluxe is a well presented title that does have more ideas than most 2D platformers – but they’re presented in such a chaotic way that we can’t imagine anyone but the very young (and their parents) getting much enjoyment out of them.