Kirby's Return to Dream Land, known in Japan as and 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 first released in North America on October 24, 2011, and later in Europe on November 25, 2011.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land features the staple gameplay of traditional Kirby platform games, in which the eponymous character Kirby possesses the ability to inhale and copy enemies in order to attain forms which give him 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. Kirbys plot focuses on the characters retrieving the scattered pieces of a crashed alien spaceship. The game was first announced as a Nintendo GameCube title with a projected release date of late 2005, but development was later shifted to its successor console, the Wii. While it was later denied that the game was still in development, the game resurfaced in 2009 with an updated release date for that year. The game was then presumed to be canceled following the announcement of Good-Feel's Kirby's Epic Yarn in 2010, but was then officially re-announced at a financial results briefing on January 28, 2011. The game was then playable at E3 2011 under the tentative title Kirby Wii, with a projected release date of fall 2011 in North America. Its final titles were announced in the following months.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land is a 2.5D side-scrolling platform game, controlled by holding the Wii Remote sideways. The main objective is to assist the alien Magolor, whose spaceship, the Lor Starcutter, has crash-landed on Pop Star. The player is tasked with collecting the scattered pieces of the spaceship, which are dispersed and hidden within the game's levels, each of which take place in various areas of the planet.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land supports cooperative multiplayer for up to four players. Kirby, the main protagonist, retains his signature ability to inhale indefinitely, allowing him to suck in nearby objects and enemies. The inhaled objects can either be propelled back out as projectiles or swallowed. Certain enemies, when swallowed, allow Kirby to extract their special qualities, giving Kirby access to a wide variety of different powers, called "copy abilities." Copy abilities are used to defeat stronger enemies and clear special environmental obstacles, though Kirby can only possess one copy ability at a time. Similar to Kirby Super Star, each copy ability has multiple forms of attack that are summoned depending on the player's button-presses. The game introduces more powerful, though temporary copy abilities called "Super Abilities," which are able to destroy multiple enemies at once as well as parts of the environment. Whip, water, and leaf abilities are also obtainable. In Return to Dream Land, Kirby also retains the ability to inhale multiple objects and enemies simultaneously to create a massive energy star to expel.
The game features a drop-in cooperative multiplayer system, which allows up to three additional players to be added or removed at any time. The three other playable characters, each possessing his own set of abilities, are Meta Knight, King Dedede, and Waddle Dee, but multiple Kirby characters are also allowed. The players are able to ride on each other, and Kirby is the only character able to inhale the other characters and fire them at enemies. Unlike New Super Mario Bros. Wii, however, all players will share extra lives instead of each having their own lives.
The story starts off with King Dedede and Waddle Dee chasing Kirby carrying a cake. They run past Meta Knight who is reading a book. Kirby suddenly stops at the sight of a spaceship shaped like a sailboat traveling through what appears to be a star-shaped wormhole, which crashes. Kirby and his companions run to and enter the ship and find an alien creature named Magolor. When Magolor finds out that five main pieces, along with all 120 energy spheres of the ship, the Lor Starcutter, have been scattered across the five corners of the planet Popstar, Kirby and the rest of the group offer to help find the pieces. After recovering all the parts of the Lor Starcutter, they attempt to travel to Magolor's homeworld, Halcandra. The latter successfully get to Halcandra, only to crash onto the planet and fight the four headed dragon Landia. Upon defeating Landia (who was able to split itself into four dragons), the crown it was wearing comes off. Magolor then reveals his true intentions of taking over the universe using the power from the Master Crown, (Landia's crown), and places it on his head, transforming him into a giant being. Magolor travels back to Popstar, via a wormhole, intent on taking it over. The smaller Landia dragons seat Kirby and his friends and they take off through the wormhole to foil Magolor. After fighting a transformed Lor Starcutter, Magolor, and Magolor's Soul, the Master Crown shatters and Magolor disintegrates.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land first began development immediately after the release of the 2000 game Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards as a title for the Nintendo GameCube. The game underwent an 11-year development period in which three different proposed versions of the game were developed and then 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. 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 almost exclusively to the single-player experience. Development of the final version accelerated in October 2010, when the game began to take form.
Kirbys 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 , 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 completely separate title that was in development by Good-Feel. The 2005 Kirby game was then 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.
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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