I have just finished up around four hours of play in Kirby's Return to Dream Land for the Wii and must say that the game is mighty impressive. It is more than a return to Dream Land, it is also a return to glorious sidescrolling Kirby gameplay. I have really missed the classic Kirby formula and I'm glad that it is back. All the platforming, copy abilities, and enemies you know are back for another round with a few neat additions. So, with just four hours in, I can say that Kirby's Return to Dream Land has made quite an impression on me.
I have gotten through 3 Levels so far and have seen a wide variety of stages and copy abilities. Stage design is very similar to that of Kirby's Adventure, and it is what you would expect from a Kirby game. It feels and plays like a true sequel to the NES title. Stages are quite easy, especially if you are a Kirby vet, but Kirby has always been a series of just letting go and having fun, so I couldn't criticize the difficulty too much. If you're looking for challenge then you play Kirby for the wrong reasons. However, that isn't to say that the game is lacking challenge.
One addition to the stage design that I find challenging and I like a lot are hidden portals. These portals will take you to another dimension that is void of color and then you must race to the end before a wave of darkness swallows Kirby whole. These sections are quite challenging, but never throw your controller against the wall challenging. If you want to get all of the game's main collectables, Energy Spheres, then you will absolutely need to seek out these portals.
This brings me to another addition that I like. I really enjoy seeking out the Energy Spheres that are located in each stage. Some are well hidden and will force you to complete the stage a second time just to find them. Of course there is a reward for finding these; Finding the Energy Spheres is comparable to the medals in Kirby Mass Attack. When you find an X amount of spheres, you will be rewarded with some type of unlockable. At the moment, I've only encountered three kinds of unlockables. An example of the unlockables you will get are neat, motion controlled mini-games. There is more to talk about in terms of unlockables and replay value, but I will save that for the review.
Lastly, I want to talk about the copy abilities. All of the classic ones feel just like their old counterparts. However, they have also been given quite an upgrade. Similar to abilities in Kirby Super Star, copy abilities here have a pretty expansive move list. Some moves are actually familiar, but there are also some neat surprises here that make the old copy abilities new again. Of course, there are also new abilities. Each of the new abilities that I've encountered up to this point (Water, Whip, Leaf) fit in very well with the older ones. Out of the three I would pick the Water ability as the most useful and my personal new favourite. Of course, there are also Super Copy Abilities which are gained from swallowing Super versions of regular enemies. They are really fun to use and are usually placed in areas that hold lots of secrets. You are limited in their usage, but I've never encountered a problem with them running out on me yet.
I have a ton more to say about the game, a lot more positive things, and a few small negative things as well. These details I will save for the final review! All in all, I can honestly say right now that if you're a long time Kirby fan, then this purchase is an easy one.