Kirby is back, this time in a post-apocalyptic 3D setting. While The Forgotten Land won’t challenge players a lot, it remains an excellent platformer that stands alongside some of the Switch’s best.
Kirby’s full 3D debut is a colorful romp that’s about as “feel good” as a story about being transported through a scary portal to a post-apocalyptic world can be, and that makes it a breath of fresh air in 2022’s gaming lineup.
There’s a lack of challenge, sure, but it feels like Kirby has finally come of age in one of the Switch’s finest 3D platformers.
Kirby & The Forgotten Land – Key details
- Price: $59.99/£49.99
- Developer: HAL Laboratory
- Release date: March 25, 2022
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Kirby & The Forgotten Land trailer
As mentioned above, Kirby’s day is ruined after he’s hurled through a vortex in the sky and lands in the New World (no, not that one).
In this more contemporary setting, the loveable pink blob must track down captured Waddle-Dees, taken in by the almost annoyingly cute denizens that range from the Corgi like Awoofis, to the ice-flinging Chillys.
As you may have suspected, this is done through classic 3D platforming combined with Kirby’s ability to swallow enemies to gain their abilities. Whether it’s throwing fireballs or explosives, Kirby’s trail of destruction knows no bounds.
His foray into three dimensions also highlights the excellent feel of platforming. Running and jumping feel responsive, while attacks are buffeted by the same kind of “wet mop” sound effects you’d expect from Super Smash Bros.
If you do overshoot a jump or step off a ledge, Kirby’s ability to float ensures recovery is pretty much guaranteed in the majority of scenarios.
A bit of a mouthful
While Kirby is no stranger to new mechanics, the big new addition in Forgotten Land is Mouthful Mode. Allowing Kirby to “eat” larger objects and assume their properties – it starts with the now infamous Karby vehicle and gets progressively stranger from there, including a staircase that can crush enemies by falling over.
These mouthful options don’t overstay their welcome but instead, feel like fun new mechanics that often lead to secrets. The traffic cone transformation, for example, can pierce water pipes or bury itself in spots with weakened floors, while turning Kirby into a vending machine can flatten enemies, fire soda cans, and reveal hidden signage that points you in the right direction.
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While many secret areas are subtly signposted, some are definitely trickier to spot than others. A small crack in a wall can sometimes be all the info you’ll need, but Kirby and The Forgotten Land also plays with perspective, too, making it worth exploring every nook and cranny.
In between platforming escapades, you’ll also go toe-to-toe with members of the Beast Pack in short but sweet boss battles. Each boss has a hefty health bar, but the game encourages experimentation in some instances by offering a few different abilities to take into the fight, or the option to go in without any. None of them live particularly long in the memory, but it’s a fun way to break up the search for Waddle Dees.
There are also fun challenge areas back at Waddle Dee Town, with minigames based around earned abilities that range from timed platforming challenges to shooting at targets.
Kirby lacks teeth
Kirby and The Forgotten Land is the kind of title that goes out of its way to surprise and delight players, and it always feels as though Kirby has a new trick to show you. The whole game is intoxicating; whether it’s the little dance that Kirby and the Waddle Dees perform when he finds them or the way he envelops an entire car and just blinks with astonishment at his own ability.
It’s an intensely friendly platformer, but the biggest issue is one of challenge. Even on the game’s “Wild Mode” it felt a little too easy, while the alternative “Spring-Breeze Mode” increases Kirby’s health and makes combat even easier. That’s no bad thing, and undoubtedly makes Kirby and The Forgotten Land an ideal platformer for younger gamers, but it’s something to consider if you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into.
Not since Super Mario Odyssey have I played a platformer that so consistently put a smile on my face. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is adorable, unadulterated fun, whether it’s the subtle animations of the adorable pink protagonist himself or the lush environments, there’s an attention to detail that makes Kirby and the Forgotten Land an absolute must-play.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the kind of game we need more of in these strange times, and it’s a welcome palate cleanser after so many more serious games.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch