A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
- Parents say
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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.
Talk to your kids 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?