Kirby's Return to Dream Land
|Kirby's Return to Dream Land|
North American box art
|Platform(s)||Wii, Wii U|
Kirby's Return to Dream Land[a], released in Europe and Australia as Kirby's Adventure Wii, is a Kirby video game and the twelfth platform installment of the series, developed by HAL Laboratory, and published by Nintendo. While Kirby's Epic Yarn was released in 2010, Kirby's Return to Dream Land is the first traditional Kirby platforming home console game since Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, which was released in 2000 for the Nintendo 64. The title was released in North America in October 24, 2011, in Japan 3 days later, October 27, 2011, in Europe on November 25, 2011, and in Australia on December 1, 2011.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land features the staple gameplay of traditional Kirby platform games, in which Kirby possesses the ability to inhale and copy enemies to gain a variety of attacks such as breathing fire or swinging a sword. The game supports cooperative multiplayer gameplay, allowing up to four players to control various Kirby characters, including Waddle Dee, King Dedede, and Meta Knight. Kirby's plot focuses on the characters retrieving the scattered pieces of a crashed alien spaceship.
The game was announced as a Nintendo GameCube title to be released in late 2005, but development was later shifted to its successor console, the Wii. The game was presumed to be canceled until it was re-announced in 2011. The game was made available for the Nintendo eShop in 2015.
Some elements from the cancelled Kirby title of 2005 were carried over to Kirby's Return to Dream Land, such as the ability for players to stack up in a totem carried by the player on the bottom of the stack. Other elements from the Kirby title of 2005, such as Kirby's ability to befriend up to three "Helpers" (a gameplay mechanic from Kirby Super Star), were modified and carried over to another Kirby game, released in 2018 on the Nintendo Switch, called Kirby Star Allies. In this title, Kirby is able to throw ethereal, valentine-shaped hearts at some enemies encountered in the game, and by doing so, befriend them as Helpers that can be controlled by a second, third, and fourth player.
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Kirby's Return to Dream Land is a 2.5D side-scrolling platform game, controlled by holding the Wii Remote sideways. Differing from other games in the Kirby series, this game features a completely 2.5-dimensional style of gameplay, and uses 3D models for player characters, enemies, mid-bosses and bosses, rather than sprites, as had been used since Kirby's Dream Land.
The main objective of the game is to assist the extraterrestrial Magolor, whose starship, the Lor Starcutter, has crash-landed onto Pop Star. The player is tasked with collecting the scattered pieces of the spaceship, which are hidden within the game's levels.
Kirby, the main protagonist, retains his signature ability to inhale objects and enemies. The inhaled objects can either be swallowed, or propelled back out as a projectile. A new feature is the "Super Inhale", where shaking the Wii Remote or inhaling for a long time makes Kirby's inhale stronger. A Super Inhale has extended range and can suck up "Heave-ho Blocks", which Kirby previously was not able to inhale; the Super Inhale also allows Kirby to inhale other players and most large enemies.
Certain enemies, when swallowed, give Kirby access to a wide variety of "Copy Abilities", which are used to defeat enemies and clear certain environmental obstacles, though Kirby can only possess one copy ability at a time. Other players playing as another "Kirby", or those playing as King Dedede, Meta Knight, or Waddle Dee, can hold onto a Copy Ability's essence (which is shaped as a five-pointed star with an image depicting the corresponding Copy Ability's "ability icon") and throw them back to Kirby to be inhaled again when needed once more, unless he wishes to discard the ability, in which case it will vanish shortly afterwards if left alone.
Similar to Kirby Super Star, each copy ability has multiple attacks that are utilized depending on the combination of button-input pressed by the player. New Abilities introduced in this game are the Whip Ability, which lets Kirby grab out-of-reach items, the Water Ability, which allows Kirby to extinguish fires, and the Leaf Ability, which lets Kirby use leaves as a form of attack, and conjure a pile of leaves to hide in and become invulnerable to nearly all attacks.
The game introduces more powerful, temporary Copy Abilities called "Super Abilities," which are able to destroy parts of the environment and inflict tremendous damage across a wide range. Unlike regular Copy Abilities, ejecting a Super Ability will cause the Super Ability's ability essence to disintegrate instantly. Five Super Abilities exist: Ultra Sword, Monster Flame, Flare Beam, Grand Hammer, and Snow Bowl, which are enhanced versions of five respective Copy Abilities, with different move-sets.
Throughout the game, Kirby can collect food items which recover health and earn extra lives by the collection of 1UP items, or by collecting 100 stars, which immediately grants him an extra life. There are also various items Kirby can use, such as keys used to unlock barred areas, a cannon which automatically fires, a bomb that steadily enlarges over time, a french horn-like item that produces a protective barrier overhead, and a large boot that lets Kirby hop across enemies and spiked areas (similar to the Kuribo's Shoe of Super Mario Bros. 3).
At the end of each stage, a bonus game is played in which players time a button press to jump as high as possible to earn additional items.
The game features drop-in cooperative multiplayer for up to three additional players. These players can either play as a differently-colored-from-Player-One's Kirby, or as one of three unique characters: Meta Knight, King Dedede, and Waddle Dee. Each of these characters possess traits from corresponding Copy Abilities based on the way each character moves and attacks, though only Kirbys are able to inhale enemies and use Copy Abilities. Players are able to ride on top of each other as a "totem", which, with perfect timing, allows the use of a charged attack, called the "Team Attack", from the "base" player. Players are also share recently-ingested health-restoring items through a move called "Face-to-Face" (which is highly similar to regurgitation).
Unlike most multiplayer games, all players share from a pool of lives, with each player requiring one life to enter the game. If one of the three additional players loses a life, they can spend an extra life to rejoin the game. However, if Player One dies, all players stop play and gameplay restarts from the last checkpoint. Players who leave with full health give back one life to the pool of lives, while extra players start with half of their maximum health if they spawn when the life counter reaches zero.
Throughout the game, players can seek out Energy Spheres used to power up the Lor Starcutter, the game's hubworld. Finding these spheres often requires keen exploration, wits, skill, or a specific Ability or item. There are also challenging "Dimensional Rift" areas that are found while using Super Abilities, requiring players to escape a black void before facing off against a miniboss to earn additional Energy Spheres.
Collecting enough of these spheres unlock Challenge Rooms, which test Kirby's mastery of a specific Ability, Copy Ability Rooms, which lets Kirby choose a Copy Ability to take with him on his adventure; and two minigames: Ninja Dojo and Scope Shot. Ninja Dojo tasks players with shaking the Wii Remote to fire ninja stars at targets whilst Scope Shot tasks players with defeating a large robot within a time limit.
Clearing the game unlocks Extra Mode, a more challenging, "remixed" rendition of the main game, and The Arena, which sees players fighting all the bosses of the game in a random order. Clearing the Extra Mode unlocks The True Arena, where players fight harder, stronger versions of bosses, along with three extra boss characters.
The story begins with Kirby carrying a cake, while King Dedede and Waddle Dee chase him, as they run past Meta Knight, who is reading a book. Kirby and the gang suddenly see a starship flying out of a wormhole, prompting them to investigate. They enter the ship and encounter an extraterrestrial named Magolor, a frantic creature who discovers that the five vital pieces of his ship, the Lor Starcutter, along with the 120 crucial Energy Spheres, have been scattered across the planet. With Magolor offering them a trip to his homeworld of Halcandra should they help fix his ship, Kirby and his friends set off to recover the lost pieces of his ship across the five corners of the planet.
After retrieving the main pieces, the natives, travel to Halcandra as promised by Magolor, where they are attacked and struck down (though this time the ship's pieces stay intact) by a four-headed dragon named Landia, who rests atop the planet's highest volcano. Magolor claims Landia is an evil beast that has taken over Halcandra and sends Kirby to defeat it. However, after Landia is defeated, Magolor reveals his true motive was to steal the Master Crown, constructed by a legendary race called the Ancients, as a source of immense power, on his head and become all powerful, with intent of making the entire universe bow before him, beginning with Pop Star. Teaming up with Landia, who is split into four dragons, Kirby and his friends chase Magolor through an interdimensional tunnel to confront him. They destroy the Master Crown and take Magolor's soul with it (though the Kirby's 20th anniversary collection reveals that he survived and has reformed). With peace restored to the universe, Kirby and friends flee through the shrinking wormhole back to their home planet, whilst Landia takes the Lor Starcutter and returns home as Kirby, King Dedede, Meta Knight, and Waddle Dee wave goodbye.
Development on a new Kirby title began after the release of the 2000 game Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards as a title for the Nintendo 64. The game underwent an 11-year development period in which three different proposed versions of the game were developed and scrapped. The first build was similar to the graphical and gameplay style of Kirby 64, rendered in 3D but using traditional 2D side-scrolling gameplay. The game would also support multiplayer with up to four players. This build was demonstrated at E3 in 2005, and was set for release later that year. However, difficulty with programming four-player led to this version being scrapped, though its story and concept would later resurface as Kirby Star Allies for the Nintendo Switch. The second build placed Kirby in a 3D environment with open world-style gameplay, and the third build returned to side-scrolling gameplay but had the graphical style of a pop-up book. The development team realized that the failure of the first three attempts were caused by too much focus on multiplayer, so focus was shifted to the single-player experience. Development of the final version accelerated in October 2010, when the game began to take form.
Kirby's long development caused the game to frequently appear and then disappear from upcoming game lists. On September 14, 2006, the Kirby game appeared on a list of upcoming Wii games, named Hoshi no Kābī (星のカービィ lit. "Kirby of the Stars"), set for release in Japan. The December 2006 issue of Nintendo Power removed Kirby from its list of GameCube releases, but did not place it on its list of Wii releases. Matt Casamassina of IGN, posting on his blog, furthered the idea of a Wii release by stating that it would indeed be released for the Wii in 2007. He compared it to Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, another game that was originally announced as a GameCube title, but eventually released on Wii. While the game did not appear at E3 2007, Beth Llewelyn of Nintendo of America confirmed the game "had not been abandoned." The December 2007 issue of Official Nintendo Magazine claimed that a Kirby game for Wii was not in development. On May 7, 2010, Nintendo confirmed that a Kirby Wii title was still in the making.
Nintendo announced the game Kirby's Epic Yarn at E3 2010, a separate title that was in development by Good-Feel. The 2005 Kirby game was presumed to have been canceled until a Financial Results Briefing on January 28, 2011 re-announced the game with a release date set within the same year. At E3 2011, the game was demonstrated in playable form under the tentative title Kirby Wii. The game was later renamed Kirby's Return to Dream Land in North America and Kirby's Adventure Wii in Europe, and Hoshi no Kirby Wii in Japan. The music is composed by Jun Ishikawa and Hirokazu Ando with a soundtrack called Kirby Wii Music Selection featuring 45 musical pieces from the game.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land has received mostly positive reviews, with many praising the game's cooperative gameplay, graphics, and sounds but criticizing its lack of difficulty. Destructoid awarded the game a perfect score of 10/10, claiming, "Videogames simply do not get any more pure than Kirby's Return to Dream Land." Game Informer gave it an 8.5 out of 10, noting that, "While it doesn’t have the challenge of Donkey Kong Country Returns or the charming art style of Kirby Epic Yarn, Kirby’s Return To Dream Land is another formidable entry in a line of great side-scrolling Wii platformers." IGN was a bit less positive, giving it a score of 7.5 out of 10, criticizing the game's lack of difficulty while stating it fits perfectly for a younger audience.
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