For long-time Nintendo fans, the sight of the bright-pink star warrior Kirby in a brand new game is an exciting one. “Kirby and the Forgotten Land” is the first installment in the mainline series released since “Kirby Star Allies” in 2018 and brings several changes to the decades-old formula. The most prominent difference is the shift to a true 3-D environment as opposed to the side-scroller style utilized by every Kirby game before it. The side-scroller genre is tried and true, especially for the platformers Nintendo is known for. However, the series was long overdue for such a change, as several other Nintendo game franchises underwent similar changes years earlier. At its core, “Kirby and the Forgotten Land” is a breath of fresh air for Kirby fans, one that immediately drew me in.
The introduction of the new feature was done right with the game throwing the player right into it while still providing instructions on how to use it. “Mouthful mode” is the latest gimmick introduced in the series which allows Kirby to take on the traits of various large objects (vending machines, cars, etc.), allowing the player to solve puzzles or more easily defeat enemies. It was a little disappointing. Compared to the unique features of other games in the series—playing each level as a horde of up to 10 Kirbys in “Kirby Mass Attack” or the mech suit in “Kirby: Plant Robobot”—mouthful mode just seems like a rebranding of Kirby’s copy ability. Additionally, the fact that the amount of abilities available in the game decreased to only 12 is rather pathetic. While there are two new powers added to “The Forgotten Land”, the fact that other games have featured at least 20 abilities really makes the game’s combat aspect seem underwhelming. The new weapons shop available in the home base. Waddle Dee Town does somewhat make up for it in that it enables the player to upgrade their abilities, adding some depth into the combat system.
Aside from the lack of variety in combat capabilities, other features of the game are enjoyable. The controls feel simple, the parkour is easy, and even the way that the player flies between levels is fun. The game itself has actually been just right in terms of difficulty. The most challenging part of each level is attempting to find all the secrets, especially on a first try. Replaying levels is definitely encouraged, and to make it easier, each challenge completed reveals the next one while some completed challenges will provide additional star coins (the in-game currency) for completing them again.
One of the more fun features is the rebuilding of Waddle Dee Town. By completing each level and the challenges within them, a certain amount of waddle dees are rescued which results in new buildings to appear in town. Being able to see a visual marker of success, while also providing benefits to the players, makes progress within the game feel more tangible than an endless trudge through level after level.
Despite the game’s flaws, “Kirby and the Forgotten Land” was a great play and a great distraction. Plopping down on the couch to play as a cute pink blob cannibalizing living things for a couple of hours is very cathartic, having me quite occupied for some time to come.