The Kirby video game series has mostly played it safe for the longest of times when it comes to its 3D games. Sure, the yarn and clay adventures provided a cool spin on things but whenever we say Kirby running around in 3D, it was usually a cookie-cutter platformer that remained in its box, Kirby and the Forgotten Land switches this all up by delivering one of the most Mario 3D-esque adventures to date and it is hard to find fault in this delightful game.
The giant pink ball of air finds himself whisked away to an Earth-like location where it sort of looks like humans just all upped and vanished one way. Kirby and the Forgotten Land takes a new approach to its general gameplay by breaking out of its 2D platforming box and expanding to fully-realised 3D environments. This means that Kirby can now run around each stage with a lot more freedom than ever before. It also means that Nintendo’s award-winning level design shines in each and every location thanks to its great combination of Kirby’s powers, clever puzzles and hidden secrets.
In a way, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is as classic Kirby as it gets but at the same time, everything feels very refreshing. His signature moves that see him gobble up enemies and steal their abilities is back, and his constant need to puff out air while levitating around makes the game feel authentic to the series. However, it is the new features in Kirby and the Forgotten Land that makes the game so exciting. Kirby can now “Swallow” just about everything around him allowing him to take on new forms throughout the game. This is called Mouthful Mode
These Swallow forms constantly left me in awe as Nintendo and HAL managed to make each and every one of them feel great while also providing some “oh my word I just did that” moments. Be it a car that Kirby gets stuck on while trying to Swallow it that sees him drive around. There’s even a giant ring that turns Kirby into a wind tunnel which saw me scoot around a lake of water using his air blowing as a sail.
It also works in the game’s favour that you don’t actually expect these Swallow mechanics to be around for long. Nor available in each stage – which they aren’t. Instead, Kirby and the Forgotten Land makes sure these abilities never feel overused and just when I got over each one, the stage was completed and the game took a much-needed break from reusing the same Swallow move again.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for Kirby’s copy abilities. If you have played a Kirby game before, you would know that the pink balloon can suck in enemies and steal their powers. These are quite obvious by now as most of these abilities have been reused for over a dozen games already. While they definitely overstay their welcome in this game, the ability to power them up makes them also feel exciting and in turn, completely new.
Throughout the game, every time I found a new copy ability for the first time, this unlocked its appearance in the Waddle Dee Town. However, having found this ability is one thing but having an upgrade scroll is another thing. These scrolls, which are scattered everywhere in the game, hold blueprints used to enhance the power permanently. Not only do they change the appearance of Kirby’s head but they also drastically change what they do. Abilities get stronger and feel impressive to use throughout the game. This makes the search for these scrolls so worthwhile.
Every copy ability gets upgraded and is better to use. If anything, Kirby feels like a god while wielding some of these abilities. My favourite has to be the Dragon Fire which gives Kirby a set of dragon wings he uses to glide around while spitting deadly fire. Not to mention that thanks to the Waddle Dee Town, I was always able to head back to the shop and equip my favourite copy ability if I lost it somehow in the previous stage. This whole upgrade system helps carry the game because I would not rest until I had the blueprint for my next favourite ability.
Upgrading power also relies on Rare Stones which are obtainable through awesome challenge missions. These missions are scattered around the game and hold timed objectives focused around one or two powers. In short, Kirby has to get to the end within a certain allotted time in order to earn the star. However, the real magic is in how brilliant these stages are. Each one has been carefully designed to challenge the platforming while also showcasing the said power. Sure, mostly all of them are a breeze to get through within the time limit but they all felt fun regardless.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is also divided up across 30+ stages. Each stage is scattered across an open-world map where I had to progress through each chapter and do each stage before fighting a boss and moving on. It isn’t anything remotely new but the idea of this world shrouded in fog in the distance kept me excited to see what was next. It also helps that the world comes to life like never before. Thanks to the 3D approach, each level was extremely fun to explore.
There are hidden pathways to find, loads to enemies to kill and even copy abilities to pick up. Each level also has a range of objectives to complete that all unlock new Waddle Dees once completed. Some stages had four hidden Waddle Dees hidden around the area and I had to find them by either completing puzzles or going off the beaten path. Othe objectives are then related to the stage itself. Be it breaking nuts that fell off trees or even chasing birds away.
Of course, if you don’t discover the hidden objectives, it is then unveiled at the end of the stage. This meant I knew what I had to do and could go back and replay the stage to try and do it again. It isn’t ideal to go back to every single stage and replay it though so I tried to find each hidden objective every time. Sadly, some are impossible because they can literally be anything. These objectives can also be the most random things around too.
Stages are fun to explore and the modern-day approach means these stages are also relatable. From a city to an amusement park, they are all designed with the utmost attention to detail, are bright and vivid and ooze personality. Sadly, the boss fights in Kirby and the Forgotten Land get a little boring after a while. These usually revolve around the same approach and while bosses look cool, they are just damage sponges and all I had to do was repeat and attack over and over again to defeat them.
In the end, Kirby and the Forgotten Land was a great time. I do wish the co-op was a little better than just having the second player take control of a boring Waddle Dee but hey. I also loved the fact that I was able to upgrade the Waddle Dee Town and unlock new shops to visit and a vending machine that sold collectable toys. These sort of things kept me going well after I finished the game.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is without a doubt the best Kirby game to date. Not only is its 3D approach refreshing, it feels like an entire reboot of the series that couldn’t have come soon enough. If you are a Kirby fan, don’t sleep on this. It is incredibly fun and so charming.
This Kirby and the Forgotten Land review is based on a code sent to us by Nintendo. It is available starting on 25 March for R1199.
Kirby and The Forgotten Land
Story - 8/10
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Presentation - 8.5/10
Value - 9/10
Kirby and The Forgotten Land is a refreshing take on the dated series that expands into the world of 3D platforming delivering the best Kirby game I have played to date.
Co-op isn’t great fun
Bosses are boring