Kirby’s Return to Dreamland



Platformer provides cooperative fun for up to four players.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game promotes social, cooperative gaming among up to four players in the same room. Attacking enemies is a major part of the experience, but the action lacks the hallmarks of grittier games that glamorize violence (the game’s fantastical enemies simply spin and disappear when struck).

Positive role models

Kirby is a precocious pink puffball looking to help an alien fix his ship, though he has to take on plenty of bad guys to do so. His companions -- including his buddy Waddle Dee and rivals King Dedede and Meta Knight -- are a mixed bunch, but they don’t have the opportunity to show much of their personalities from previous games since they’re controlled by players in cooperative play.

Ease of play

This game should prove highly accessible to players of most ages and skill levels. The controls are extraordinarily simple, and the level of difficulty mild. Instructions and advice are provided for each new activity. Our young playing companion held her own throughout much of the game. If younger players do have difficulty with a certain area or boss, they can simply drop out and jump back in when things calm down. 


Kirby and his pals use an enormous variety of attacks, including fire, electricity, swords of various shapes and size, tornadoes, mallets, explosions, and more. However, the intensity of this violence is dampened significantly by the game’s cartoon aesthetic and the non-humanness of its bad guys. Enemies -- several not much more than amorphous blobs with nubs for arms and legs -- simply disappear when defeated.   

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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Kirby’s Return to Dreamland is a colorful, family-friendly game with content and a level of difficulty suitable for nearly the whole family. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board has stamped the game with an E10+ rating and cites mild cartoon violence, but this may be a little high. Kirby and his pals spend a lot of time fighting their enemies with swords, fire, mallets, explosions, and other kinds of attacks, but enemies are fantastical creatures with no human qualities that simply spin and vanish when defeated. We think the experience is suitable for ages nine and up.

What's it about?

Nintendo’s precocious pink puffball gets his first traditional platformer on a home console since the Nintendo64 era in KIRBY’S RETURN TO DREAMLAND, a side-scrolling adventure that sees everyone’s favorite amorphous blob journeying to diverse settings to round up pieces of a spaceship that scattered across the land as it crashed. As always, Kirby has the ability to inhale and the swallow just about any enemy he meets, copying their abilities in the process. Players will be able to toss water to put out fires, use flames to light fuses, start tornadoes to quickly zoom around the screen, and use an enormous sword to cut thick ropes. Each new stage brings fresh abilities to be copied.

Back at the spaceship, which acts as a world hub, players can access mini-games and challenges that slowly become unlocked as the game progresses. The game is designed to be played solo or with up to four friends cooperating with one another, New Super Mario Bros. Wii-style, though some of the extras can only be enjoyed one player at a time.

Is it any good?


Last year’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn was an innovative and beautiful experience that diverged significantly from the traditional Kirby formula. By contrast, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland is a return to basics, a conventional platformer that will be instantly familiar to people who’ve played previous Kirby games. And it’s just as fun as its predecessors. Kirby’s abilities are diverse and you get to put them to use in fun and original ways. Plus there are secret areas that are hidden just well enough to make finding them not too tricky but still satisfying.

Cooperative play, meanwhile, makes this game a great social gaming experience. And while things never get particularly hard, playing with multiple players makes boss fights that much easier. Dedicated players will be able to make it through the main stages in a few nights, but collecting all of the spheres hidden within them -- which are required to unlock bonus modes and features -- will take a lot longer. It’s not groundbreaking, but it is well crafted and a lot of fun.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about social gaming. Do you prefer to play games alone or with friends? Do you enjoy the pressure to perform well when playing cooperatively, or would you rather just take on challenges by yourself?

  • Families can also discuss how it feels to take on the roles of bad guys in cooperative games. Nintendo sometimes lets players assume control of characters like Bowser, Wario, and, in this case, King Dedede and Meta Knight. Do you enjoy playing as these personalities, or would you rather just stick with the heroes? Why?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo Wii
Available online?Not available online
Release date:October 24, 2011
ESRB rating:E10+ for Mild Cartoon Violence

This review of Kirby’s Return to Dreamland was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old February 23, 2012

Great, cute family game!

Kirby's Return to Dreamland has cartoonish violence. Kirby is a cute puffball. Meta Knight is the cool masked swordsman. King DeDeDe is the big armed penguin. Waddle Dee is a minion of King DeDeDe with a bandanna and a spear. The levels are springy, deserty, watery, chilly, spacey, mechanical, and burning. Levels are very fun, entertaining, and have brilliant music. Magolor is an alien who needs help to fix the Lor Starcutter, a space-traveling ship. This game was easy for me to complete. The mini games are also fun. Ninja dojo, you have to hit a target with a ninja star. It is awesome and action-packed. Scope shot, you shoot giant robots with a laser gun. It is lovely and mechanical. Kids and parents will love this creative, exciting game!
What other families should know
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written bySafemancam001 December 28, 2011

Fun Kirby Adventure more E that E10+

Kirby's Return to DreamLand is a fun, slightly challenging game. It's a great game to play with friends, and anyone can play it. I haven't gotten completely stuck on a level so far. The game is easy without being too easy. The game is only a violent as a game rated E can be. I don't understand why it is rated E10+. I guess they just want it to sell better because people tend to buy the game with the higher age rating. Kirby's Return to DreamLand is a great game for everyone.
Kid, 10 years old October 30, 2011

Great game, one flaw

Wow. Just amazing. There's only one flaw---people may get a little angry at other players to get a move on.


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