Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Developer: HAL Laboratory, Inc
Genre(s): Adventure, Platformer
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 25/03/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t adore our pink, lovable and friend-shaped Nintendo mascot, Kirby. If they don’t, maybe they aren’t to be trusted… Anyway, yes, Kirby is back with the first 3D action-platformer in the series, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, on the Nintendo Switch! The title was first announced in September 2021 in a Nintendo Direct; I was instantly enamoured with the abandoned city overtaken by nature vibes, which I’ve expressed my love for in my Cloud Gardens preview and review.
So, is Kirby and the Forgotten Land a journey you will never forget, or does it suck big time? Keep reading this Rapid Review to find out.
We’re Not in Planet Popstar Anymore
Kirby is enjoying a stroll through the lush Planet Popstar when dark vortexes appear in the sky, sucking in both the Waddle Dees and Kirby himself! Waking up on a mysterious beach, Kirby explores this new world to find it’s an unusual place where nature has overcome civilisation. He discovers that a gang called the Beast Pack have captured the poor Waddle Dees. Naturally, it’s up to Kirby, with the help of a magical new friend Elfilin, to rescue them and return home.
It’s a simple to understand plot, with the story being told alongside the gameplay through cut scenes. Even with the limited dialogue in these, which I think gives the game its charm, emotions are portrayed well in the characters’ expressions. There are some twists to the story as well; just when you think you’re close to victory, disaster strikes again! It’s even quite dark under the surface at times, which will go over a lot of younger players’ heads.
My reviews will always be spoiler-free in terms of plot. Overall though, it’s fairly lighthearted and full of wholesome moments! Without the risk of sounding cheesy, a lot of it is to do with the power of friendship. It is by no means childish, however; us adults need feel-good games too! And that’s exactly what Kirby and the Forgotten Land is. I often felt a pang in my chest at how cute it was, while also being immersed in the danger at stake.
In your quest to rescue the Waddle Dees, you have some powers at your fingertips to aid you. One of these is using Kirby’s trademark ability to suck in enemies and use their power. These ranged from being a heroic swordsman, becoming a fire-breather, transforming into a tornado and many more. As well as offering a variety of different ways to take down foes, some were also needed to progress through areas.
These Copy Abilities can also be upgraded by finding blueprints scattered throughout the world. You can then choose between the upgrades, opting for something with more power but less rapid, and vice versa. You do need coins, found in levels, and special treasure stones found in Treasure Roads. These are mini-games involving one of the Copy Abilities, which you try and complete as fast as you can. These are just one of the many extra incentives surrounding the main story, which I’ll speak about more shortly.
In general, the Copy Abilities gave you constant ways to switch up gameplay. I liked being able to choose which ones to use since you could drop abilities and swallow another enemy. My favourite was probably the drill ability, being able to circle around foes and cause earthquakes beneath their feet!
What a Mouthful
Perhaps one of the most anticipated parts of Kirby and the Forgotten Land is mouthful mode. Hilariously, Kirby can also inhale man-made objects and take on their form. By swallowing a car you can drive around circuits. Suck in an archway and go paragliding, or get a mouthful of a lightbulb and illuminate the dark!
It looks absolutely ridiculous, but fits in perfectly with the lightheartedness of the game! Again, it keeps the gameplay fresh and interesting throughout. Each level also has certain missions, some remaining secret until you’ve actually completed them. This can involve using particular Copy Abilities to kill bosses, finding hidden areas often using a Mouthful Mode or something involving actions such as helping ducklings reunite with their mother.
There are also collectables in the form of figurines found through the various levels. These also may be in hidden paths or rooms, and may not come naturally by just finishing a level. As well as offering a reason to replay like the achievements, it keeps you on your toes trying to explore every inch of the level.
Taking a Breather
That’s not all though! If you want a break from the action, you can return to Waddle Dee Town. There’s a wealth of things to do here which I wasn’t expecting. Spend your hard-earned coins on food items to restore health, or buy more figurines at the Gacha machines. Go fishing and beat your records, or take a part-time gig at the café.
You can even come head to head with multiple bosses in the Meta Knight arena. Or simply take a nap in Kirby’s home to restore health! It’s a refreshing break from the main gameplay while also creating a concrete world you can easily get lost in.
A Beautiful Land
Kirby and the Forgotten Land, simply put, looks really, really good. The lighting is phenomenal, enhancing both the landscapes and the 3D characters. The fur texture on characters like Elfilin and the Awoofy is very impressive too. Both handheld and docked looked fantastic, and I can only imagine how beautiful it looks on an OLED Switch. I loved the cutesy style of the foes too, almost too cute to defeat, but fitting in perfectly with the aesthetic.
Each world is unique in its environment and colour palette, travelling from lush tropical beaches to harsh orange deserts. The unique level designs meant that each one felt different from the last, even when taking place in the same biome. This was helped by each level having its own track too; you wouldn’t hear the same music twice. This meant I never got bored, with a bonus being the orchestrated tunes were awesome to listen to as well!
Another aspect I loved was the camera as you played through the game. Camera angles would change automatically, going from fully zoomed out to zooming back in. It really gave the dramatic sense you were a little guy in a vast world, while also making it feel cinematic.
Bring a Buddy
There are two difficulties in Kirby and the Forgotten Land; Spring Breeze and Wild Mode. I played through the story on Spring Breeze for the sake of a quick review turnaround, and it was extremely breezy! I only really struggled with some of the final bosses at the end when having to learn their attack patterns. But, I could count on one hand how many times I died. Wild Mode then offers you a harder challenge but more coins as a reward. So, it really depends if you’re looking for a relaxing experience or not.
If you do struggle with Wild Mode, you can always bring a friend along to play as Bandana Waddle Dee in local co-op! I found this really fun as you take down enemies together, though Bandana Waddle Dee has a limited move set. No Copy Abilities or Mouthful Mode for Player 2 unfortunately! I switched to Wild Mode when playing with my boyfriend, but this made it a lot easier since you had double the attacks on enemies. Saying that, Kirby and the Forgotten Land to me isn’t meant to be a difficult challenge and instead, a relaxing break from harder titles.
Pretty in Pink
For me, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a must-have title for the Switch and is a fantastic example of Nintendo at its best. I was having constant fun and the gameplay was always being switched up with Copy Abilities and their upgrades, Mouthful Mode, and the unique level designs. I loved the break from the action with the minigames at Waddle Dee Town too! Just to tie it all in a pretty pink bow, it looked and sounded gorgeous too.
There are many incentives to replay too, such as completing the missions in each level and rescuing all the Waddle Dees. There’s also some end game content that I won’t spoil, but it extends game time even further. The only very minor complaint I would have is that a couple of the bosses were repeated throughout the game, so you would know how to defeat them as they used the same pattern. Nevertheless, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a wholesome ride ideal for any age with its difficulty settings, and I loved my time with our favourite pink puffball!
Rapid Reviews Rating
5 out of 5
You can purchase Kirby and the Forgotten Land from the Nintendo eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.