The pink Kirby bubble has been around for three decades, but we can’t really say he’s ever been among Nintendo’s favorite characters. He was always considered a member of the “B team” next to the far more popular Mario company. This was certainly due to the fact that Kirby never had a bigger 3D game than his adventures were mostly done for portable consoles. But Kirby received the best possible gift for his 30th birthday – a three-dimensional adventure after which many could appreciate him more than before.
I received the announcement of Kirby and the Forgotten Land mockingly – in the first video, the game seemed vain and uninteresting. The second presentation was much better and the game with the new Mouthful mode looked much more meaningful. When I finally played the game, the new Kirby gave me the best fun in the first three months of this year!
At first I was pleasantly surprised at how good this game looks by Nintendo Switch standards. Directed CG movies are beautiful enough to be replaced by an animated movie. The graphics in the game itself are also very good. The environments are unexpectedly rich in detail, with more than solid effects of water and environmental destruction. Some levels initially have a view from a distance of the location you are approaching and it usually looks stunning, with a level of graphic complexity that you would not otherwise expect from a Nintendo platformer.
There is a simple explanation for how they managed to make the game look so good. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a platformer in a 3D environment, only you don’t have free camera control in it. You can move the camera a bit, but it is mostly set up so that you watch the action from one given angle. As there is no free rotation of the camera, the game environment is a bit richer in details than in Super Mario games.
The game performs quite well, but not perfectly. In handheld mode, the ceiling is 30 frames per second. On TV the performance gets a little better, but I get the impression they’re never at a smooth 60 frames per second. It is noticeable that the game uses various tricks, e.g. it animates distant characters at 15 fps until you get close to them. It’s not scary and it doesn’t affect the gameplay, it’s just that – it’s seen quite often.
I didn’t think I would ever write this, but Kirby surprised me a lot with his story. Understand that conditionally – you won’t get a tense plot, layered characters or a deep story here, but the finale of the game is crazy! Without spoiling anything I can tell you that in the end I was slightly shocked by the amount of events and reversals. 90% of the time the game has no story development, and then throws a plot after which I wondered if I might be playing Resident Evil spin-off. The finale of this Kirby is among the craziest things I’ve seen lately. It’s so epic and absurdly comical that I can only compare it to the legendary end of Resident Evil 5 when Chris punches a rock.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land has a very enjoyable and fun gameplay. You will know the mechanics if you have played previous games, in short – you suck up opponents to copy their powers, and you jump and float. The goal of the game is to save the kidnapped Waddle Deeje and defeat the group of wild animals that ruled the post-apocalyptic world after humanity disappeared from the face of the Earth.
The game brings 12 different powers / weapons for Kirby, including a hammer, sword, rifle, etc. All of this can be upgraded to multiple levels to increase scores for strength and attack speed. The offer of new powers does not include all of Kirby’s abilities from older games. However, this compensates for the new Moutful mode – Kirby’s ability to swallow an object and take on its characteristics. For example, it can swallow a can with a can, a mobile scaffold, a traffic cone or the best part – a car.
Controlling Kirby in Moutful mode is always fun – there are flying, sailing, destruction and similar mechanics. You only have to accept that the Moutful mode is scripted, ie you can only use these powers in the parts of the game that are designed for it. You can’t get the whole level into driving a car that Kirby swallowed. I might like the game to offer a little more freedom, like Super Mario Odyssey, but what’s there is – it’s fun like this.
The game can be played solo or cooperatively in pairs via local multiplayer. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried cooperative gaming, but I’ve already noticed an old problem with Kirby games on my own – that they are very light. The game has two weight settings, but even on the harder setting (Wild mode) it is quite simple. You can only get a challenge on the bonus campaign after the main story is over, and even then it’s all pretty simple. I don’t mind the game being adapted for the younger ages of the players, I just think the game would be even more fun if it was more challenging in the main part, and not just when it’s over.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land has six different regions, each with four main levels and one boss battle. There is also a bonus region after the end of the main story, with several alternative and slightly longer levels. Levels are varied and interesting – you have an overgrown city, beach, amusement park, desert, industrial complex, etc. Obstacles in them are imaginative and only one level is for some reason unimaginative recycling of previous boss battles. Each level has four optional tasks, three of which are hidden, giving them a motive for re-crossing.
Beyond the main levels, there are about 50 short-term challenges that bring currency to upgrade skills. And these challenges are fun, but short – each can be completed in a minute or two. Kirby can also return to Waddle Dee Village where he can participate in martial arts tournaments and mini-games like fishing or serving lunch at the canteen. These mini-games are just as interesting, but offer no particular reason to repeat them over and over again.
The game has a decent amount of content from which you can get up to some 20 hours of fun. It’s longer lasting than Nintendo’s sports titles, but it’s so much fun that I quickly wished for more levels Ideally, each of the six worlds has its own hub world from which to go to other levels and be free to explore. That worked well in the recent Super Mario games and I think it’s a shame Kirby didn’t copy that idea. Here the exploration of the region is performed from the air and the only thing you can do is look for hidden coins or mini-challenges.
I think Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a very good game, definitely the best adventure Kirby has had so far. But I also think it’s a step up to a really great memory game. If it offered a higher number of levels and at least one additional weight setting, I wouldn’t think much of including it in the 90+ category. He is already one of my favorite platformers lately and one of those games that always brings a smile to my face with its cuteness. Kirby’s tunes have been playing in my head for days now and are a welcome distraction from real-world problems. Not to mention how I’m still under the impression of a crazy ending that will stay in my memory forever. In short, don’t miss Kirby and the Forgotten Land if you have a Switch and love platformers.