by April 19, 2022 @ 11:00 pm
Kirby is probably one of Nintendo’s safest franchises. It’s easy to grasp, super charming, and never strays far from its basic premise. That said, series developer HAL Laboratory has been known to push the boundaries of what a Kirby game is. Kirby 64 let players combine abilities to create super-powered attacks. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land remains one of the slickest, most polished entries in the series. And now Kirby and the Forgotten Land turns the franchise on its head by opening up its levels and allowing players to roam 3D environments — and it’s rad as heck.
A Whole New World for Kirby — and You!
Kirby and the Forgotten Land really goes for some bonkers themes. You’ve got a post-apocalyptic world, new enemies, and crazy abilities. Unlike previous installments, this game doesn’t take place in the familiar, beloved Dream Land.
Instead, Kirby and a bunch of Waddle Dees get sucked into a black hole that sends them to a (very colorful) wasteland known as the New World. In this land, Kirby discovers that the Waddle Dees have been kidnapped by large, angry animal creatures known as the Beast Pack. Never one to shy away from doing a good deed, Kirby sets out to save the Waddle Dees. Along the way, you’ll meet Elfilin, an animal/elf type who acts as a sort of guide companion throughout the adventure.
The story in Kirby and the Forgotten Land isn’t necessarily the stuff legends are made of. Still, it’s a serviceable and decent setup that paves the way for one of the protagonist’s best adventures ever.
That Great, Familiar Feeling
The moment you start playing Kirby and the Forgotten Land, you just know you’re in for a special treat — especially if you’re a fan of the series. Nothing about the core mechanics feels especially different from past titles. In fact, it’s the game’s familiarity that’s absolutely splendid. This has the look and feel of a tried and true Kirby game.
All of the fun mechanics you know and love are there: inhaling enemies like a vacuum to steal their abilities; fun, easy-to-grasp platforming; floaty multi-jumps; charming landscapes. It’s all there, and if you’ve played Kirby in the past, you’ll instantly know exactly what you’re getting. Except this time it’s all in 3D spaces, so it gives you extra room to roam around and find all kinds of secrets and collectibles.
In Kirby and the Forgotten Land, you’ll take control of sword, cutter, spike, and fire abilities, just to name a few. These work pretty much the way you’d expect them to, and it’s a total joy being able to use different attacks to take out enemies and solve simple environmental puzzles.
Boss battles against the Beast Pack are fun and only sometimes mildly challenging. You’ll use your special abilities to deplete these larger enemies’ health bars or suck up and spit out projectiles. These encounters are fun and make for a nice change of pace from all of the open-ended platforming action you get in the majority of the levels.
In With the New
New to Kirby and the Forgotten Land are the Mouthful Mode abilities. Now you can inhale cars, staircases, vending machines, pipes, and other massive objects. These work differently from the standard copy abilities and are more context-based. If you turn into a staircase, for example, you can then inch toward hard-to-reach areas, release the staircase, and climb it to reach hidden Waddle Dees or other collectible items.
You can unlock special stages that require you to use your copy abilities to trigger switches and reach a goal within a certain time limit. These are just okay, and they serve as minor distractions, but they pale in comparison to the standard stages.
There’s a hub world you can visit that has some pretty cool stuff to play around with. Here you can gather more collectibles or upgrade Kirby’s copy abilities. This is actually pretty cool, as you can turn the traditional attacks into superpowered versions, making you a force to be reckoned with.
If you want to bring a friend along for the ride, Kirby and the Forgotten Land includes a local co-op mode. A second player can drop in and take on the role of a spear-wielding Waddle Dee. It’s cool to be able to play with a buddy, though an online co-op mode would’ve definitely been nice, too.
As you might expect, Kirby and the Forgotten Land looks and sounds exactly like what you’d expect from a Kirby game. It’s super colorful, cheery, and endearing. The music is fast-paced and fits the bonkers action perfectly.
Its 3D worlds aside, Kirby and the Forgotten Land never strays far from the series’ patented formula. Honestly, though, it doesn’t need to. The 3D setting is a strong enough step in a different direction, and it makes the game feel both vastly unique from its predecessors while still fitting within their parameters. At the end of the day, though, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is one of the best games in the entire franchise, and it’s a dream to play.
Score: 9 out of 10
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