The king demands perfection
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a remake of the Wii game before it, which might lead you to think that character designs were already figured out. It turns out that wasn’t the case at all, and HAL ended up laboring over the design of one character in particular.
In an interview with Nintendo Dream, HAL opened up about the considerable challenge they faced when handling King Dedede’s design in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe. Kirby superfans have likely noticed that King Dedede looks quite different in the Switch remake versus the Wii original, and the design that was settled on took a lot of time and effort from the team.
HAL noted that they often tweak King Dedede’s design with each new game that arrives, as they want a look at that suits the King’s personality in each title. Before working on Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, HAL look at King Dedede’s attributes in both Kirby Star Allies and Kirby and the Forgotten Land, and they felt simply reusing one of those approaches wouldn’t work for Return to Dream Land Deluxe.
After comparing those two designs in particular, HAL started with King Dedede’s design in Kirby and the Forgotten Land as a base and built on that. From there, they took the more comical-nature or King Dedede’s design in Star Allies and applied some of those aspects as well. Even when these decisions were made, arriving at the final design for King Dedede was “agonizing,” according to the team.
HAL also made adjustments to the hit detection for King Dedede. This led to a very long trial-and-error process that resulted in clipping issues and body/face proportions that seemed off. The team stuck with it though, and they eventually settled on a design that showcased Dedede’s powerful frame while keeping things fair for the player.