Saturday, February 4, 2012

Kirby's Return to Dreamland Review

Everyone loves Kirby. He’s like the Raymond of the video game world. His squishy cuteness has captivated even the most hardcore gamers. However, his latest series of games seem to have lost the spirit of the original Kirby games, forgoing the classic copy abilities system for other mechanics. Kirby’s Return to Dreamland marks the return to these original concept, named after the ever-popular Nightmare in Dreamland. But how does this title stack up against the nostalgic past of Kirby? Find out after the jump!

You’ll see immediately as you start the game the familiar childish story introduction with about as much depth as a kiddy pool, the clever food-named worlds, and the classic sidescroller gameplay. The visuals are nice, and as in most Nintendo games, are some of the nicest on the Wii. The bright colors and cheesy design makes the game very kid-friendly but could alienate some older gamers.

This game indeed takes after its predecessors, featuring a small group of mainly original abilities and only a few, well thought out additions. However, there’s a twist. The new abilities have SO mush depth! Abilities both old and new are filled with pages of attacks and capabilites in the pause screen’s ability description, and while using most of them combat is fun, intuitive, and allows for creativity. You’ll find yourself discovering a new combo while screwing with a copy ability’s attacks, or mistakenly pressing the buttons to trigger an even more flashy and powerful attack.

A host of new features come to this game. Many levels grant you access to mega-powerful versions of the central abilities: for example, the mega sword allows you to crash through enemies and terrain alike, and the mega flame shoots massive blasts of fire that burn down forests. Using these abilities takes you to a weird realm where you must race against a wall of evil stuff that kills you, culminating in a recurring but slightly changing boss fight for this game’s major collectible, energy spheres.  Also collectible are stars, the equivalents or Mario’s coins. Another new feature is a large quantity of mini-games and ability challenges. These challenges are actually quite fun, requiring you to master the nuances of their respective ability to defeat enemies, move quickly, and collect points for a medal.

As far as the difficulty of the game goes, it’s quite honestly very bland. With the right abilities in your hands, even hordes of enemies fall easily and the bosses are for the most part devoid of challenge. Even the puzzles and extra challenges for collectibles and points are pretty simplistic. Anyone looking for the next ‘Ninja Gaiden’ or ‘Zelda II: Adventure of Link’ should steer clear of Return to Dreamland, but despite the game’s kindergarten difficulty, it’s still fun- possibly even more so due to being relaxing and low-key to play through.

Kirby’s Return to Dreamland is a fun game for a Kirby fan or to play through for nostalgia’s sake, but in all honesty is aimed at a younger audience. If you like easy, casual gaming, or if you’re looking for a game to play to pass time of fill between major game releases, this game might be worth it as it really can be quite fun, but it falls short in too many places- difficulty, depth, level variation- to be a truly recommendable game. However, if you want a game for children, well, this should be a barrel of monkeys for ‘em.

Gamerscore: 7/10

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