Moments into the very first level of Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe, I'm cleaving into the stage with a giant sword. The pink puffball's mighty blade slices through a platform made of rock like it's swiss cheese. Any Waddle Dees directly in my path are thrown up into the air and splat onto the screen, breaking the fourth wall, as if cracking the display on my Switch OLED. It's absolute carnage. Move over Cloud Strife, your Buster Sword's got nothing on Kirby's weapon of destruction.
What I'm using here is the Ultra Sword, one of Kirby's Super Abilities that allow him to transform his signature copy abilities into more powerful, supersized forms for a certain amount of time. When I'm using one, I can obliterate anything in my wake, and it never gets old each time I get the chance to do so. And thanks to the improved makeover of the Deluxe release, each and every one looks better than ever.
As a shiny new version of the classic 2011 Wii adventure, Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe not only looks fantastic, but it also introduces some delightful additions that flesh out the experience. With a wealth of mini-games in the new Merry Magoland theme park area and a new epilogue adventure, there's plenty to tuck into solo or with pals thanks to four-player co-op support. But nothing quite beats the joy of rediscovering the original journey with a fresh coat of paint after so many years – Super Abilities and all.
As a throwback, Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe follows the classic formula of the Kirby series instead of the more open direction of last year's Kirby and the Forgotten Land release. The journey begins after Magolor's spaceship crash lands on Planet Popstar, whereafter you help them recover ship parts spread out across a hub world. With different themed areas with a set amount of levels, each stage is home to collectible energy spheres that unlock features on the ship itself. After you complete a level, you'll unlock the next, until you eventually reach a boss stage to complete a location. Just like Kirby games of old, there's a satisfying sense of progression, with a range of different environment designs that get steadily more challenging as you go.
From a lush green forest with rainbows that decorate the blue-skied background, to icy caves adorned with crystals and desert land with sandy geysers erupting from dunes, I can't overstate just how good this new version looks on the Switch. Every stage pops with color, and the character designs have been given a polish to make the pink hero and his foes shine. This also makes all of the boss fights and Super Abilities come to life – not least the Monster Flame Super Ability. Here, Kirby sends a giant fiery dragon across the screen to scorch enemies off the stage, and if you ever needed proof that the little pink puffball is in fact a powerful god, then this is it.
Outside of the classic core adventure of Kirby's Return to Dream Land, the Deluxe version introduces an epilogue journey that unlocks after you finish the main story. To shake things up a bit, you take control of Magolor instead of dear old Kirby. Without copy abilities, you work to build up and unlock Magolor's own powers. Without spoiling it, the epilogue is a refreshing little addition that brings a touch of something new to the overall experience that long-time fans and newcomers can enjoy. Completing story mode also opens up The Arena, which is much like the arena that can be found in Kirby and the Forgotten Land. It's a great place to test out your mettle with Kirby's arsenal, with a series of consecutive fights to overcome.
Early on, you have access to a whole new theme park area known as Merry Magoland. And merry it is. There are many different attractions in the park in the form of mini-games that can be played with up to three friends. You also have adorable stamp sheets to fill up by taking part in the mini-games and completing little missions with set objectives for each sub-game. The stamps act as an incentive to keep playing, and it also helps that there's a variety of mini-games and challenges to take on. Various little features will unlock in the park as you play, which also adds a sense of accomplishment to your mini-game sessions.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe has some surprises in store for players of the original, and it's really the best way to experience the classic adventure for those who are new to the game. It's been a joy to tuck into the new version with all of its fresh bells and whistles, but it's also reawakened my appreciation for the Super Abilities. The Kirby series has been home to so many inventive, memorable features over the years that give Kirby a fun edge. Even with the wonderfully weird introduction of Mouthful Mode in Forgotten Land, nothing has quite topped the joy that washes over me as I see Kirby become a giant snowball that can barrel through a stage, or wield an oversized hammer that smacks everything out of the way.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe is coming to Switch on February 24, 2023. Look ahead to more exciting releases on the way with our roundup of upcoming Switch games.