Developed By: HAL Laboratory Published By: Nintendo Categories: Platformer Release Date: 03.24.22
HAL Labs has finally done it. They’ve made a mainline Kirby game that has impressed me. The first time in over twenty years, since Crystal Shards on the N64. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the series’ first fully 3D game. And man does this game feel fresh.
No longer being stuck on a 2D plane isn’t just the only big draw of this game though. Kirby now puts some really big things in his mouth. Mouthful Mode takes the standard mechanic of Kirby sucking stuff in, and then adds some questionable actions on his behalf…like putting a rusty car in his mouth. While this doesn’t quite give as many functions or moves as standard abilities, Mouthful Mode allows for some new mechanics in itself when these objects are just shoved and poking though Kirby.
The first you see, and possibly my favorite, is that car. While I don’t approve of Kirby putting an old car in his mouth (I hope he has his vaccines up to date), it lets you drive around. Imagine an evolution of the Wheel Ability, now with stages that are designed and challenges that are based around it. Maybe you want to swallow a traffic cone to jab down on things, or a light bulb to light up the room. Yeah, I suppose you could say that this is just re-contextualizing a lot of abilities, but it’s enough of a change to feel new and not just another Kirby game. Also, controlling a Vending Machine is fun.
Abilities, the standard ones at least, feel like they have since Superstar. Different movements and inputs do different moves. This time we have a few new ones. Drill, which er…drills. Ranger, which gives Kirby a gun. I like both of these new abilities quite a bit, moreso than some of the other new abilities we’ve received recently.
Also new in the realm of abilities is evolving them. Not only can you make your Fire ability into Volcanic Fire, then DRAGON FIRE, but every upgrade changes Kirby’s hat too. This isn’t groundbreaking in the least, but I absolutely love powering up the abilities. New hat, new animations, stronger moves. Definitely can help you out on trickier sections if needed.
Was Shiver Star your favorite World in Kirby 64? Then you’re very much in luck, as Forgotten Land is purely that kind of level design. A city covered in the world it overthrew. A destroyed mall. My favorite being the entirety of World 3, which is an amusement park. Haunted Houses, rollercoasters, circuses, and all. Incentivizing replaying these stages is the inclusion of some extra challenges.
So what exactly is going on in Forgotten Land? Kirby got sucked up and brought to a new land, not unlike ours. The Waddle Dees got kidnapped and brought there too by the Beast Pack! Go save them, repair the destroyed Waddle Tee Town, and stop the Beast Pack! Just by playing each stage and going out of your way a few times, you’ll rescue Waddle Dees. Doing those challenges I mentioned nets you more. The more Waddle Dees you rescue, the more featured and bigger the town gets. A theater for cutsenes, a place to evolve your abilities and test them out, a fishing hole, resturants, capsule machines!
Surprising absolutely nobody, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is rather easy and short. The real meat of these games is always the post game and side content. Not going to go *too* into detail, as to not spoil, but it really doesn’t mess around. One I will mention, and these I did struggle a few times to get the PAR times are the Treasure Rooms. These are challenge rooms, which need to be completed to get items needed to Evolve your abilities. Now, the rooms themselves are not too hard most of the time, but getting those times definitely can be tricky. The game gives you two difficulties off the bat, so if it’s too hard or easy, you can always switch.
Also surprising nobody, the music is fantastic. Kirby has always had great music, but lately it’s been very remix heavy. Outside of the never forgotten *spoiler* theme, it’s just about all new tunes, including an anime OP in the introduction. Graphically, the game is…more Kirby, but I do have to admire again how the stages feel organic, which they really haven’t in nearly two decades. The framerate is once again 30fps, like Star Allies, but doesn’t feel as off as Star Allies did, coming off of the 3DS games being 60fps.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land to me is a return to what made Kirby feel magical with the Dark Matter titles. It has what made it feel grand and exciting. This is by far the best Kirby game we’ve gotten in the last twenty years and I cannot wait to see where HAL goes next.