Kirby has had something of a refresh and reboot with this latest adventure.
Star Allies was a nice title that captured the essence of the original games so well. Rainbow Curse and Epic Yarn were also a lovely divergence that stood out as essential titles on their respective platforms.
It is The Forgotten Land, however, that may just be the greatest Kirby game of the last twenty years and the reboot the franchise has so desperately needed.
Kirby is accidentally thrust through a vertex and into a 3D modern day wasteland where they’ll encounter burned out cars, vast step-ladders, and oversized lightbulbs. All of which they can stuff into that big over-sized mouth.
No, seriously, the game’s ‘Mouthful Mode’ makes perfect sense for the giant pink cloud and it’s where this title really shines, allowing you to squash unsuspecting enemies as a rolling pipe, or push them off a cliff edge as a giant, bouncy ring. It’s such a smart new addition that really adds another dimension to the gameplay.
Of course, Kirby has always been able to consume enemies and claim their abilities, and this time around HAL Labs have not only added to the options, but even made a few nods and winks to classic Nintendo franchises like Zelda and Donkey Kong.
This seems like a natural home for Kirbs. Among Nintendo’s most extensive and beloved properties, as adorable and beautiful as the franchise often is, it’s not the one that usually makes the most headlines, but where you’re donking people over the head with a DK hammer or doing Link esque spin-attacks, something magical happens and a wry smile creeps across the face.
I think that sums up Kirby and the Forgotten Land altogether, though. It’s a lovely game that is actually incredibly difficult to put down. Sure, the nature of Nintendo platformers often lend themselves as experiences you can dip in and out of, and Kirby’s level structure and world design absolutely leans into that, but I could not take my hands off my Switch for hours at a time.
Just one more level, I’d say. Or, I’ll just beat this boss and move on, yet I was still waddling around with Waddle-Dees and heading off the beaten path with treasure tracks a half hour later.
Forgotten Land has all the classic Nintendo charm, which definitely helps. But if I had to put my finger on why I was hooked, I’d definitely be looking at level variety and creativity, the fact that everything is about the right length, there’s a bunch of hidden, unidentified secrets to find which serves as nice encouragement to go exploring, and then there’s the game’s hub world.
By rescuing Waddle-Dees, you can build back their little village with their help getting access to new shops, secrets and even mini games. One shop actually helps you upgrade the abilities you find in the world using money and jewels you find, as well as unique blueprints hidden out of plain sight.
There’s even a ‘Burger Time’ style mini-game you can run where you can earn rewards depending on how successful you are in fulfilling Waddle Dee orders.
The Forgotten Land does everything it can to keep itself interesting and entertaining and, for the most part, it’s very successful at that. There’s heart, humor, great gameplay, and even co-op should you want to join up with a buddy.
It’s not just Nintendo games it seems to reference either. The very opening section – and some others inbetween – gave me serious Crash Bandicoot vibes, and some of the world design wouldn’t look out of place in The Last of Us or Fallout.
And just wait until you get to the game’s closing moments, because that is a serious tonal shift!
Will it be the Switch’s Game of the Year come the end of 2022? Probably not. But Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the best Kirby game I’ve played in years and one you should definitely add to your collection.
Kirby has never been so enriching and relevant. There’s so much fun to be had in The Forgotten Land that you’ll lose track of time and feel incapable of putting your Switch down for even the briefest moment. With fantastic variety, and a high level of quality, this is another must-own platformer for a console that is completely spoiled with them.
+ Creative at every turn
+ Fun and infinitely rewarding
+ Difficult to put down
– A title you’re liable to mostly forget about once finished
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is out now on Switch
Code Kindly Provided by Nintendo