The 7 Years of Kirby’s Return to Dreamland

It’s been a long time, Kirby. A very, very long time.

As the reviews of Kirby’s Return to Dreamland start rolling in, perhaps its best to go back and remember that long and gruesome story of the game’s development. Yes, remember when Nintendo first announced the game? I know, some of you guys could argue that the originally announced GameCube game is not actually the new Wii game, but for the sake of an epic story, let’s just say it is. Shall we start, then?

Let’s start back in the year 2000, shall we? Remember that year? It’s when Kirby 64 was first released, and it gave us a glimpse of what Kirby in full 3D would look like. But the game was terribly short, so short that IGN even recommended that you rent the game first… because you could probably finish it in that amount of time. In other words, there was much left to be desired in Kirby’s first 3D adventure. Rumors spread of a new Kirby game coming to the Nintendo 64, perhaps a Kirby 64 sequel. The game ended up to be Kirby Air Ride, released in 2003, and for the Nintendo GameCube, much to the fans’ disappointment.

But it didn’t take long for the Kirby hype to build back up. In November of 2004, a little over a year after Air Ride was released, Nintendo announced Kirby GCN, a game that featured pure side-scrolling action much like Kirby 64 did. Nintendo soon released a trailer for the game, which included details of “partner systems” seen in Kirby Super Star and a “stacking system” seen in Kirby’s Dream Land 3. But as the game reached its end-of-year 2005 release date, the game was mysteriously taken off of Nintendo’s to-do list, and for no apparent reason. As you could have guessed, this was a huge disappointment for Kirby fans.

In 2006, the game re-emerged in a few magazines as a game currently in development. It was later removed. In 2007, the same thing happened, only to be removed again, though Nintendo did confirm that the game was not abandoned. In 2008, it was up on the release-charts yet again, and as you can guess, removed… again. Rumors were slowing down; the game was either cancelled, or development was transferred to the Wii, much like how Air Ride was transferred from the 64 to the GameCube.

On September 2008, Nintendo confirmed that there was no Kirby game in the works.

But hope rose in 2010, when it was announced that a new Kirby game was coming for Wii. Of course, this would turn out to be Kirby’s Epic Yarn, developed by Good-Feel. Kirby GCN was presumed dead, and Kirby’s Epic Yarn was its replacement. But that wasn’t the end of the Kirby GCN madness. A maximum tomato was seen in the 3DS announcement video, and a few days later, a secret “Kirby Project” for the 3DS was rumored among the gaming community.

And here we are in 2011. Nintendo announced in January (through a financial briefing) that Kirby Wii was to be released in 2011. Shortly after, a trailer was released (along with the trailer for Rhythm Heaven), using a seemingly remixed background soundtrack of the music heard in the 2005 trailer. In E3 2011, a new trailer emerged, along with a playable demo. Multiplayer support, stacking, and Water Kirby, all seen in the 2005 trailer, was seen at E3, and in September, the game was officially named Kirby’s Return to Dreamland in North America, along with a pretty awesome boxart.

So, 7 years in development, and finally we have our Kirby. And boy is it looking good. But is it really Kirby GCN reborn? Or is it a completely different game? Who knows, and who cares. It’s going to be great, and definitely what I need to keep my Wii going. This may be my last Wii game, and its going to be a sweet farewell to the system that had some awesome and amazing games.


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