Kirby and The Forgotten Land is officially in the top 5 of all time Kirby titles. It feels like a breath of fresh air while paying homage to the glory days of the iconic Nintendo series while bringing something new and exciting to the audience and player base.
The latest Kirby installment for the Switch contains innovative new gameplay, an open-world map, an expansive range of new abilities, and the inclusion of a coveted upgrade system led to a variety of playstyles, ensuring, that each playthrough will not be the same as the last for this adventure with the lovable pink hero. The story and narrative are pretty simple, and at times, the level design felt a tad bit refined compared to past titles, but the inclusion of modern-day architecture being plucked from Mario Odyssey gives way to a breath of fresh air to a series that felt like trudging its way through the mud.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land – A Love Letter To The Glory Days of Nintendo
In contrast, Zelda and Mario were flying high above the skies with blockbuster and critically renowned titles in the form of Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild whereas Kirby for the longest time was losing its footing and came off stale. However, I can confirm the reason that Kirby and The Forgotten Land works are due to simplicity and direction.
In a way, this chapter of Kirby felt familiar and took elements from other titles in the Nintendo library. For example, the massive open-world map felt reminiscent of a Super Mario 3D World landscape partly due to how environments shifted over time to match the gameplay and location.
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I also noticed that a majority of the mechanics in Forgotten land felt rehashed and improved from Kirby: Triple Deluxe, which was an amazing title back in the day on the Nintendo 3DS. So it just happens when you put those titles together you get Kirby and the Forgotten Land which is a joyful blast of nostalgia that feels like a strong indication for the future of Kirby now that the series is thriving on the Nintendo Switch.
New Abilities, Same Old Fun
Now, with The Forgotten Land, Nintendo makes it clear that Kirby has leveled up quite a bit since we last saw him by introducing a new copy ability known as “mouthful mode”. The new copy ability is quite unique because the player can be a traffic cone where they have to jump up and land to break up pavement or streets, or as a soda machine, you fire soda cans at enemies or find secrets behind closed-off walls.
Did I mention Kirby inhales a car and then the feeling of going vroom vroom to reach the next destination unfolds into a speed trial or inhaling a windmill where you have to maneuver tricky puzzles in other sections while on a boat? Many will say that the new abilities are forced, but that’s the genius of Nintendo because they feel integral and bear purpose to the gameplay while relaying to the player that these new abilities are vital in terms of progression in the new sandbox present before them.
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In addition, Kirby could still take on classic abilities such as sword, fire, ice, hammer, tornado, and even sleep which are all fan favorites, but Nintendo wanted to elevate the player experience, so they included a level-up system that rewards creativity and exploration. This means the player could go out of their way to track down every secret bonus in a level to obtain all the upgrades finding themselves with the ingenuity and variety of higher powerups that not only made the experience memorable but refueled the dormant passion of what makes Kirby so enjoyable to play.
Now, at times, the game makes you step back and think about boss strategy and the best ability or pattern to take the area boss down because as the levels increase, the gameplay does tick up in difficulty but not by too much of a margin. Though if you are a Kirby vet, you will have a great time and make your way through this title with ease, enjoying callbacks from Kirby dancing after completion of a level in synchronized fashion, or remembering the rush of nostalgia from the iconic boss themes to the exact solutions to each enemy or boss in your way.
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I noticed certain levels where elements and environments were reflective of Mario Sunshine would take center stage, especially during the water park level which felt like a small-scale island Delfino that Kirby was able to explore. It’s ironic because Kirby has to inhale large amounts of water to get rid of the sludge and mud, similar to Mario with Fludd in Sunshine. Then at other times, I found myself wandering a suburban and abandoned mall with no insight, or traveling a desert oasis, a mechanical city that gave off heavy Sonic 2 vibes, and a typical summer Greenlands which is can found in almost every Kirby title.
The goal of each stage was pretty simple. You rescue the Waddle Dees at the end of the level and once saved, they return to Waddle Dee Town, One new addition to the Kirby franchise was the central hub area known as Waddle Dee Town, Which adds new buildings and features more of its citizens you safely return home. This is how you get Forgotten Land’s sub-games, its shops for healing items, boosts, and buffs, and even a home for Kirby to sleep in, which not only gives you a rotating set of sleeping Kirby animations but also fully recovers his health.
Of course, Nintendo did take a few creative liberties and put some extra flairs and twists on the bosses, so they never came off feeling stale and forced. Instead, each level was innovative, exciting, and rewarded exploration while toeing the line of being linear and unique.
It’s clear, that Nintendo strives for when excitement and reinvention when expanding and developing iconic franchises with newer hardware and consoles can be found here. It’s pretty common when playing the next installment of say, Zelda or Mario, that the gameplay is elevated and improved but still bears moments and fragments of the fabled memories of the glory days of the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube.
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However, Kirby is different because the franchise always stuck to 2-D from the inception of the character on the NES to the GBA’s critically acclaimed Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland which to many felt like the gold standard of the franchise still to this date. Then for a while, developers struggled to find footing in the realm of 3-D for a time till Forgotten Land. And Maybe it just happens with the success that Forgotten Land is gathering, Nintendo is testing the waters for a more permanent direction in terms of Kirby titles.
I loved playing through Forgotten Land not only due to the nostalgia of the series but the experience as well. The gameplay was exciting, and constantly evolving, and it never tried to resemble something it wasn’t or think outside of the box. In my opinion, it was the perfect blend of Nightmare in Dreamland’s story, Amazing Mirror’s difficulty, and the thrill of Triple Deluxe, it’s the perfect culmination of all Kirby titles past and present. What more could ask for?
Nintendo struck gold and I’m excited for the future of Kirby. Because of its great gameplay, awesome graphics, nostalgia and overall playability, I give Kirby and the Forgotten Land a 9.5/10
Kirby and the Forgotten Land was developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo and is currently available for the Nintendo Switch.
Have you played Kirby and the Forgotten Land? What is your favorite Kirby copy ability? Do you have someone to play co-op with? Let us know in the comments below and share your thoughts with us on Twitter!
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