Kirby and the Forgotten Land Review

Feast your eyes on a new world!

by Marc Magrini
Kirby and the Forgotten Land Review

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a brand-new title in HAL Laboratory’s famous franchise. Kirby is introduced to an unfamiliar world with fearsome foes, and players are introduced to a completely unique style of play. This title is the first mainline Kirby game to feature full 3D movement, and many familiar elements from the series were changed to support it. New gameplay mechanics and creative enemy designs are only the tip of the iceberg as players explore everything Forgotten Land has to offer. Are these new additions and changes worth the sacrifices made to accommodate them?

Plunge Ahead on this Thrilling Tour

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Forgotten Land’s structure, at its core, is still very similar to more recent mainline Kirby titles. Players travel through different areas, completing the levels within to eventually battle a boss. Where this game differs is the new 3D plane that players have access to. Previously, only spinoffs were able to experiment with the idea of a 3D Kirby game. Forgotten Land makes the most of its status as a major release, using its environments to grant an even greater sense of exploration. It’s still a level-based game – no open-world exploration or anything – but new and classic Kirby elements give players a reason to explore every inch of the ground they walk on.

New mechanics tie into this exploration very well. Mouthful Mode is Forgotten Land’s main gimmick, giving Kirby unique and odd powers without actually using a Copy Ability. These are mostly used for puzzles and occasional progression through a stage. They also join Copy Abilities as part of the new Treasure Road levels, forcing players to use their abilities as efficiently as possible to obtain a Rare Stone and some bonus Star Coins. These new puzzles and challenges have surprising creativity to them, making it worthwhile for players to complete everything Forgotten Land has to offer.

At points, it can feel a bit tedious to explore everything. This is especially so when returning to a level to rescue hidden Waddle Dees that might’ve been missed, since most objectives for finding them aren’t revealed immediately. Thankfully, Forgotten Land follows the series tradition of being a cakewalk as long as you aren’t searching for hidden objectives. This gives kids and casual players plenty of leeway when it comes to completing the story, on top of the cooperative play that can be enjoyed throughout most of the game. For more serious players, post-game content and full completion will provide a surprisingly great challenge – especially when it comes to boss battles.

The Roaring Ocean of a New World

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Forgotten Land gives the Kirby series a renewed focus on combat, even when looking back at the intricate boss battles of Return to Dreamland and Planet Robobot. This is partially thanks to the improvements made to Kirby’s dodge, which can be activated by guarding and flicking the control stick. When timed right as an incoming attack is about to hit, time will slow down for a moment. Kirby will even be able to launch a powerful counterattack with certain abilities in this state. This alone makes for more engaging battles, and the game wants you to make the most of it; players will end up forced into arenas to battle enemies and minibosses while exploring levels. This lets players hone their skills in preparation for the boss battles ahead.

Recent Kirby games have been particularly invested in creating powerful and engaging boss fights. Forgotten Land is no different, even with many of these bosses only having a few attacks at most. Players are rewarded for correctly reacting to a boss’s attacks with their own powerful strikes, and later battles – especially after completing the game – are more challenging than ever. There are plenty of items that can help someone struggling with these battles, but they’re both optional and out of the way; in other words, it’s easier for players to challenge themselves if that’s what they want.

Unfortunately, there’s not a wide variety of ways for players to battle. Forgotten Land has a very low amount of unique Copy Abilities, and many fan-favorites like Spark and Parasol weren’t able to make the cut. Additionally, many abilities had their movesets stripped down in order to play well in the new 3D environment. To make up for this, Forgotten Land lets players upgrade their Copy Abilities. This can be done by finding blueprints and rare stones while exploring the game’s main story. This addition brings some great variety to classic abilities, and it offers more opportunities for customization based on personal preference. Forgotten Land might be a little more restrictive when it comes to which Copy Abilities made the cut. But when it comes to the ones players can access, there’s never been a greater sense of freedom.

Stuff Your Belly and Nap Awhile

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Outside of the game’s main story and exploration, Forgotten Land also has plenty of extras. Waddle Dee Town, serving as the game’s hub area, allows players to enjoy minigames and simply hang out with the Waddle Dees they saved. Collectible figures can be found during gameplay and purchased in the town, letting players learn a bit more of the story behind Forgotten Land’s characters and areas. You can even use the D-Pad on your controller to wave or sit down, letting players act more expressive than ever. All of this only adds to Forgotten Land’s charm, turning the game into a fun-yet-relaxing experience.

There are other ways Forgotten Land adds to the “relaxing” aspect of Kirby games. A new difficulty selection is available that lets players weaken enemies in exchange for less rewards. The selection is a bit redundant seeing as how the harder difficulty, Wild Mode, is still not very difficult on its own. There are also only a few stages throughout the entire game; they’re reasonably large, but the low amount means the game is over more quickly than you might think.  It would’ve been nice to see some more time put into making new stages, especially since the ones already in the game are so great on their own.

There are quite a few aspects of the game to discuss outside of the gameplay. Kirby and the Forgotten Land runs well and looks great whether playing on a handheld or docked Nintendo Switch. It follows in the footsteps of Star Allies by playing at 30 frames per second in levels, being bumped up to 60 in menus. It’s not the smoothest experience, but it is consistent – and it makes for a very good-looking game on the Switch. The music this time around is almost completely unique, with very few songs from previous games being used at all. And, of course, long-time fans can expect to discover surprising, subtle, and somewhat unsettling lore.

The Verdict

The worst thing that can be said about Kirby and the Forgotten Land is simply that there isn’t more of it. Previous experiments with a 3D Kirby might have missed the mark, but this title makes up for any shortcomings with its new additions and altered mechanics. Forgotten Land is both a truly fantastic Kirby game and one of the best games anyone can find on the Switch. With enough time and polish, a new title building off of Forgotten Land’s ambitions could make for a truly perfect game.

This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.

"loved"
loved

  • Score: 4.5 / 5
  • Available On: Nintendo Switch
  • Published By: Nintendo
  • Developed By: HAL Laboratory
  • Genre: Platformer
  • US Release Date: March 25, 2022
  • Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
  • Quote: "Kirby and the Forgotten Land is fun, relaxing, and challenging all at once. Kirby’s first major leap into 3D is an incredible success, with new mechanics and altered gameplay providing a familiar-yet-unique experience for any fan of the series. Forgotten Land provides incredible foundations for the future of 3D Kirby games, and one can only hope that HAL will continue to build upon them."
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