As a well-known Nintendo franchise, Kirby still hasn’t sold nearly as much as other popular Nintendo franchises. Still, with over 20 games under its belt, Kirby has slowly become a fan favourite in homes across the world, and the little pink puff ball is finally getting his breakout title—Kirby and the Forgotten Land.
With colourful worlds, lots to explore, and well-crafted levels, it’s easily the best Kirby game to date, and one that Switch fans won’t want to miss!
Kirby and the Forgotten Land Details
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): HAL Laboratory
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
Wonder, wilderness and Waddle Dees
Part of what makes Kirby and the Forgotten Land so much fun to play is the beautiful world you get to explore. In typical World and Level fashion, each area of the Forgotten Land is divided into specific biomes: grass, water, snow, desert, etc. My initial worries for this title were that Nintendo would deliver the same experience world after world, with a new coat of paint. Thankfully, that is not the case.
Very rarely did I play through a level in my 15 hours that I did not enjoy. It wasn’t necessarily what I did in each world that kept me so excited, but rather seeing how the worlds themselves were crafted. Two of my favourite levels were built around an abandoned mall, and it was so well done and detailed.
With such a gorgeous world to look at, I would have liked the development team to be a bit more varied in their scoring of the game. Far too often I was hearing familiar themes, and since many of the songs are very short, you’ll be hearing them on loop for a very long time. It’s a small gripe, but one worth making.
Forgettable but useful story
Who would have guessed it! King Dee Dee Dee is at it again—this time around, it is our job to find all the captured Waddle Dees and defeat the epic Kirby boss. It’s a lame story to be sure, but so is rescuing a princess.
Ultimately, that has never been the point of Nintendo platforming and adventure titles. You don’t pick up Mario and Kirby for the story, but rather for the gameplay. That is where this title shines brightest!
Outstanding level design
If you are unfamiliar with Kirby, there isn’t much required to get you up to speed. This cuddly ball of pink can suck up specific enemies and take on their characteristics—suck up an enemy with a sword, obtain a sword yourself. Suck up an enemy who throws bombs, and now Kirby can throw bombs. Not all enemies can be sucked up and have their abilities copied, but many can and there is a great variety to choose from.
At times, specific abilities are required to beat certain levels, and in these situations, the development team has made sure the ability is readily available. A lot of the time, however, the game encourages experimentation. What ability do you think is the best option? What ability are you most skilled at? Oftentimes, it is the answer to these questions that will ultimately decide which ability you will use. At times, Kirby will have to use a brand new ability called Mouthful Mode, which allows Kirby to suck in real life objects and take their shapes. Throughout my adventure, I turned Kirby into a car, a pylon, a pop machine, and more and it brought new and exciting gameplay options to the Kirby franchise.
Each level has five specific tasks that need to be completed, two of which are known to the player when they begin, and three that need to be found. Completing each level will always award three captured Waddle Dees, and each level will also have 3-5 hidden Waddle Dees you will need to find. The final three tasks are always initially hidden, and range from collecting specific food, finding hidden passageways, defeating a mini-boss without taking damage, and much more.
These additional tasks are a great reason to hop back into levels you have already completed, but during my time with the game, I was never left frustrated trying to figure out a specific task. While completing some are harder than others—specifically beating world bosses without taking damage. And, within a specific time frame—none of them are unfairly difficult.
The central hub of your adventure
Outside of the worlds, the other hub within the game is Waddle Dee Town. It was fun saving Waddle Dees and seeing what new buildings were built within the town. While some of the buildings were more useful than others, the overall gameplay loop will be appealing to some, especially younger players. I personally enjoyed the coliseum, where you can battle past bosses and earn great rewards, and the shop mini-game where you complete orders for hungry Waddle Dees. Other buildings are less exciting—I rarely ever visited my home, and only played the fishing mini-game once.
One of the greatest additions to the Kirby franchise is the ability to upgrade abilities. Scattered around the worlds are blueprints that can be collected. These allow you to upgrade your various abilities. Each upgrade brings massive benefits to attacks, so finding them and upgrading is essential to defeating some of the end game bosses. Some of the additional bonus levels within the overworld—called Treasure Roads—require specific, upgraded abilities. For those looking to do everything in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, finding all the blueprints is a must!
Two player local co-op fun
In Kirby and the Forgotten Land you can invite a friend or family member to play along on the adventure! By sharing a Joy-Con on the same system, the second player joins your journey as Bandana Waddle Dee. By using Bandana Waddle Dee’s spear, you’ll have a variety of attacks that will make you and Kirby a formidable team!
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is an epic Nintendo adventure not to be missed
While Kirby has never been my favourite Nintendo franchise, I can say with confidence that Kirby and the Forgotten Land is one of the best Kirby games ever. While many will be disappointed that the game doesn’t lean heavier into more open levels, I think the team did a great job of combining new, 3D platforming concepts with the classic Kirby gameplay loop.
Levels are much more open than they have been in past titles, and I think finding all the secrets each level is hiding will bring smiles to all. If you are looking for your next epic Nintendo adventure, this is it.
+ Fantastic level design
+ Enjoyable and varied Copy Abilities
+ Gorgeous environments
– Repetitive soundtrack
– Waddle Dee Town isn’t as exciting as you might want
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF KIRBY AND THE FORGOTTEN LAND
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5