Here’s what we thought of the new Kirby and the Forgotten Land, the franchise’s first attempt at a true 3D adventure.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land was announced in September 2021. Now, 6 months later, the game is out and I’ve come to the end of my time with it. Personally, I love the quick reveal-and-release tactic and in this case, it suits the game perfectly.
Your adventures in the Forgotten Land won’t be nearly as drawn out as the Lands Between but Kirby’s new title acts as an excellent circuit breaker of sorts.
In what feels like a year of single-player epics (Elden Ring, Dying Light 2, even Pokemon Legends: Arceus), it’s nice to have a simple pick-up-and-play game that doesn’t take long to finish.
But how does Kirby stack up against its competition?
- Game: Kirby and the Forgotten Land
- Price: $59.99
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Kirby and the Forgotten Land Full Review
A Dee-Lightful Adventure
Nintendo is pitching Kirby and the Forgotten Land as Kirby’s first adventure in 3D. In truth, it’s actually Kirby’s fourth time hitting the third dimension in its own series, but the first in a ‘mainline’ title.
I’m pleased to say that developer HAL Laboratory understood the assignment when it came to making a true 3D platformer to suit the franchise. The level design blends together old-school Kirby mechanics with a more open environment, and it does so seamlessly.
Those who have only seen the game’s trailers should bear in mind that Kirby and the Forgotten Land is not the open-world adventure you may be anticipating. Instead, the game is broken down into levels, not unlike those of Super Mario 3D World.
Each level has plenty to explore however and, while the game is relatively linear, each environment is a pleasure to travel through. There’s no question that this is the way that mainline Kirby titles should be, moving forward – although I hope to see spinoff games continue to feature wild and wacky experiences too.
One of the biggest new additions to the title, besides the third dimension, is Kirby’s new Mouthful Mode. This ability allows Kirby to use its vacuum-like powers to inhale a variety of larger, non-living objects, from cars to vending machines, and it helps give Forgotten Land its own style.
The new power allows stages to feature driving, gliding, and other segments that switch up the gameplay. It’s used to great effect, without ever getting stale, and many Mouthful Mode forms will even help you unlock secret routes in your level if you look hard enough.
As for the Copy Abilities themselves, there’s a mixture of new and returning power-ups to explore. And not only can you discover them in the wild, but you’ll also be able to upgrade each one at least once.
By finding all of Kirby’s hidden blueprints around the Forgotten Lands, you’ll gain access to powered-up versions of your abilities. With that in mind, there’s just one more reason to keep your eyes peeled when exploring each level.
Finding a new upgrade is always exciting, as Kirby usually gets more than a few new moves to explore when powered up. Late-game additions to the roster are often incredibly versatile too, and help keep the limited number of basic Copy Abilities feeling fresh.
Made for the Big Screen
After playing Kirby and the Forgotten Land to completion, I’m happy to say that I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel and what it can accomplish. Because although I enjoyed my time in the Forgotten Land, there are a few aspects I’d love to see improved upon.
One of the most jarring aspects of Kirby and the Forgotten Land, I actually noticed back in the game’s demo. This is certainly one game that benefits from being played in docked mode, as opposed to the Nintendo Switch’s handheld setting.
Players who prefer taking Kirby on the go will certainly encounter a blurrier 3D adventure that, while perfectly playable, doesn’t do justice to the game’s beautiful graphics. No, Kirby and the Forgotten Land doesn’t live up to the beauty of the now 5-year-old Breath of the Wild, nor does it match Super Mario Odyssey for visual flair, but there’s no denying that it’s got a wonderfully vibrant style.
Unfortunately, the new release also fails to utilize the Switch hardware in the same way that the above titles manage. Despite Forgotten World levels being far more limited in scale, enemies in the distance will often have jarringly-low frame rates.
Everything feels smooth while playing, for the most part, but there’s no hiding the stutter when looking at the obstacles ahead.
Even playing on your TV won’t fully solve the issue, but it certainly looks and plays better than handheld. When you’re in docked mode though, it’s easier to take advantage of one of Kirby’s strongest features – its multiplayer.
The Best Co-Op Multiplayer Game of 2022?
It’s not just Kirby making its way through the Forgotten Lands after all. Early on in the game, players will encounter Bandana Dee, a playable co-op character who will only appear again should you have a Player 2.
The Nintendo Switch was designed for exceptional co-op gameplay at its core, and Kirby and the Forgotten Land manages to be everything I hoped for in a multiplayer adventure.
But how does playing as the popular Waddle Dee companion hold up against Kirby with all its unique Copy Abilities? The answer: surprisingly well!
We previously put Bandana Dee on our list of the most likely candidates for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC. And while the character may well have been an unpopular pick, Kirby and the Forgotten Land proves it had quite the potential moveset.
Rarely does being Player 2 feel like a second-class experience, which is difficult to manage when one of you is a walking power-up machine. And while there are a couple of instances in which it feels like the area was designed for Kirby alone, they’re few and far between.
Playing this game with a friend or partner is a joy, and even the minigames often allow for a co-op experience. Kirby and Bandana Dee can also interact in levels, sharing items with one another when they come into contact.
It’s an absolute delight to see the duo interact, whether they’re sharing cake in Waddle Dee Town or dancing together by the Warp Star at the end of each level. Bandana Dee even clings to Kirby’s back and launches spears when the latter is in Mouthful Mode, never truly out of the action.
The only major single-player exclusive modes featured in the game are the optional Treasure Roads, which test your mastery of Kirby’s powers. However, with each one only taking a minute or so to complete, it’s not long until both of you are back on your adventure together.
One thing to note, however, is that adding a second player will only serve to make this game even easier.
More Like Mild Mode
Kirby has always been a casual platformer at heart, and the Forgotten Lands is no exception. Right off the bat, the game gives you the choice of Wild Mode or Spring-Breeze Mode difficulty levels.
In Spring-Breeze Mode, Kirby has a larger health bar, and enemies are easier to defeat. In Wild Mode, Kirby has a smaller health bar and enemies are still easy to defeat.
Giving gamers an easy mode is an all-too-popular topic right now, but Kirby and the Forgotten Land delivers two easy modes and not much challenge. In fairness, you might not expect too much difficulty when playing a Kirby game – but it feels like a missed opportunity to have a Wild Mode that is still incredibly easy.
In my time with Kirby and the Forgotten Land on Wild Mode, I didn’t once see what happens when Kirby dies. Whether you’re falling off the stage or getting hit by enemies, our hero can take quite a beating, even on the harder of the two difficulties.
I’d have loved to see a mode akin to Super Mario Odyssey’s Darker Side of the Moon to offer fans a more difficult challenge, but I recognize that doesn’t necessarily fit with the developer’s vision this time.
Most of the game’s challenge comes instead from finding collectibles. Each level comes packed with missions to complete and hidden Waddle Dees to rescue.
You’d be surprised by how much each seemingly-small level can hide away, and it provides some excellent replay value to an otherwise relatively short title. Completing Kirby and the Forgotten Land will take roughly 10-12 hours, yet all but the most explorative player will have levels to go back to.
While I wish that HAL Laboratory had the resources of Nintendo’s in-house development team, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a must-play title for any fan of the franchise. Furthermore, if you’re in the mood for some casual couch co-op, there’s no better destination than the Forgotten Land.