Kirby has returned in a brand new adventure, and this time – players have a lot to take in with Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Typically, Nintendo utilize their pink fluff to test the waters of a console early on, with a title built around a specific mechanic or gimmick to show off the platform it was designed for (you know, like Tilt and Tumble or Canvas Curse). Those side-games can be lovely – but it’s always special to return to the platforming Kirby is known for. This new main-line romp looks to broaden the horizons of our round hero, but is it all as sweet as it looks? Let’s find out.
From the moment the game opens, Kirby and the Forgotten Land feels like a large, fresh step for the franchise. There are bright colors, stunning locactions, and new characters we have never seen before. Its narrative, however, stays simple, with a cheeky plot that is easy to jump into. This time around, a black hole opens, sucking Kirby and all the Waddle Dees into an unknown civilization. Kirby quickly takes form to set out into this uncharted land to find every one of his friends and track down the culprits. Yes, it’s a lovely, warm story without a lot of depth – but if you have played any Kirby title in the past, you will certainly have enough here to continuously grin from ear to ear as everything is charming and inviting from start to finish. It’s odd how a franchise that has had the same style for decades can still feel new and exciting without trying to change much – but Forgotten Land does this effortlessly, easily setting a bar as what me one of the most memorable stories for Kirby to date.
I think it’s needed to get it out of the way that this is not an open world title. Sure, it still is a 3D platformer, and the world is more open than any other title in the past – but there is still a linear tone afoot here, feeling closer to the likes of Super Mario Odyssey or Galaxy instead of something like Breath of the Wild. These large open areas all vary considerably, constructed with unique themes and fauna that are crafted with discovery in mind. Players take control of Kirby, who for the most part – feels about the same. He can still inhale enemies with ease, and float around from platform to platform without much resistance. It’s the same familiar gameplay one would expect, but with new abilities and mechanics available that take advantage of the larger space.
If there is any gimmickry to make Forgotten Land feel distinct, it would be the new “Mouthful Mode”. This allows Kirby to quickly swallow up large items, providing it with a pink coat that lets him take control of that said item’s general function. For instance, if you inhale a car, you now can drive around with Kirby in full control. Kirby can also inhale large fans, appliances, and other items that give new entry into areas that were once unable to be reached. I think my main concern when we first saw the concept for Mouthful Mode was space and limitation. Luckily, these stages are built for each mouthful ability, and each are an absolute joy to discover and toy with.
While Mouthful Mode is indeed a mouthful, we still have all the regular mechanics from a Kirby platformer to enjoy, and they’ve never been better. Kirby can inhale enemies and gain their power, with the ability to perform a set number of unique attacks based on the ability and input. These all work well and can even be upgraded over time through Waddle Dees saved during your travels. You see, each stage has hidden Waddle Dees to find, along with Waddle Dees that will be saved simply for completion. When a specific number are saved, a hub area will begin to grow and fill with shops, which can be utilized to spend collected stars and coins to upgrade abilities. This hub area, known as Waddle Dee Town also has other unlocks and mini games, creating satisfying rewards for completion.
I think it’s important to highlight the incentive for playing before speaking about how well-crafted this world is, as they truly make this title unique – offering both increased challenge and wonder. Ultimately, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a game about discovery and exploration. Sure, the platforming and combat are magnificent, but this game is all about taking a look around – using your abilities to open new paths and areas that are packed full of collectible items and activities to partake in. There is always a cannon you can light, or a hidden switch to smash to find that creates an invitation to explore and make these stages so wonderful. Add in the Kirby lore for veteran fans, and you have a title that newcomers will love, but veterans should treasure.
The presentation within Kirby and the Forgotten Land is outstanding. The colors are vivid within each stage, and the environments are all painted with warm textures and heavy detail. The enemies are also a joy to behold, as the usual animal antagonists have adorable designs that almost make you want to refrain from lighting them on fire. There have been better looking games on the Switch, but Kirby makes the most of the hardware’s capabilities by not pushing boundaries, but instead filling them with quality design from top to bottom.
The music is a step away from the norm for the franchise. Featuring voiced tracks for the first time as well as familiar beats, there is something for everyone here. The soundtrack does a great job at staying pleasant throughout while still managing to build excitement as it almost evolves as the game progresses. Kirby isn’t a talker yet, but his little yells and shouts keep his carefree personality intact, which is all most fans will ask for as his curious and innocent nature creates a tone of wonder that the game thrives with as the player starts to explore.
Kirby and The Forgotten World is hands down one of the best titles on the Switch to date. There is so much to discover that the game never feels like a drag to play, as there is always something to do next. I know this franchise sometimes gets overlooked due to its low difficulty, but the challenge here is found in perfection. As you finish worlds and collect everything, the game becomes more fleshed out and whole, and there is no greater feeling than to watch this journey expand with such a happy go lucky antagonist always cheering you on. Those who are looking for another adventure that is sure to be one of the platform’s finest – look no further. This Forgotten Land is a delight to discover.
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