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How did I miss this fun pink puffball first time around?


Kirby’s Return To Dream Land (Nintendo Switch, £49.99)

Verdict: Pretty in pink ★★★★★

AND so it came to pass that one of the best games of 2023 was also one of the most overlooked games of 2011.

Or at least it was overlooked by me. I never played Kirby’s Return To Dream Land when it first came out — perhaps because, to me, this pink puffball seemed like a second-rate Nintendo character when compared to Link from the Zelda games or, of course, the great Mario.

But I’m older now — and, I tell myself, wiser. Kirby’s Return To Dream Land has just been released again for the Switch. The visuals have been updated; new gameplay refinement­s made; extra levels added. And it’s fantastic.

A lot of this edition’s qualities were, I imagine, present in the original. Kirby, for one, has his usual physiology: he hops and floats through levels, breathing deep of the cartoon air and sucking in everything in his path — including new abilities that change what he can do. One minute he’s a spiky pricklemon­ster; the next a whip-cracking ranchero. These abilities have more variety and nuance to them than, say, Mario’s equivalent­s. They feel like entirely different ways to play.

Then there are the other different ways to play. Kirby’s Return To Dream Land makes a lot of the extra minigames that have been devised for you by Magolor, the alien being who demands your help in the main story.

These fun little challenges can be played against the console or up to three friends — just pick your character and compete.

Me? I always pick Kirby. That pink puffball is my hero now. Turns out that I was the second-rater all along.

 ?? ?? First-rate character: switch’s Kirby
First-rate character: switch’s Kirby

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