I was raised in a family completely obsessed with Nintendo. I would go as far as to say that second to God, Nintendo might have been the most important thing in our lives. While I loved most of the usual series, like Mario and Zelda, nothing was more special to me than Nintendo’s strange puffball, Kirby. I followed the series all my life, loving each new game that released. But when Kirby Star Allies released, I was more than a little disappointed with its short length, and I felt like the formula used since Kirby’s Return to Dreamland had outstayed its welcome.
When HAL stated that Kirby Star Allies would mark the end of an era, many of us assumed the next game would be in 3D. Our assumptions were proven correct when Kirby and the Forgotten Land was announced. This latest entry in the Kirby series drops the original 2D gameplay for a 3D world.
When a mysterious portal opens above Planet Popstar, Kirby is sucked in and transported to a post-apocalyptic world resembling Earth. It is soon revealed that the Waddle Dees from Popstar have also been brought into this world, and that they are being captured by a group of animals called the Beast Pack. Kirby then teams up with a fairy-like creature called Elfilin to rescue the Waddle Dees and find out what the Beast Pack want with them.
Despite many thinking it would be, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is not an open-world game. It’s as linear as any other Kirby game, with you progressing through levels in an established order. Adding to the replay value, each level has 3-5 hidden Waddle Dees to find, along with three bonus objectives that each award one Waddle Dee upon completion. These objectives range from destroying specific objects, to avoiding damage, to eating specific recovery items and serve as most of the game’s challenge.
Speaking of challenge, while it isn’t as easy as Kirby Star Allies, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is very easy to beat—so easy, in fact, that I never died until after I beat the final boss (though I did have a few close encounters). Despite not being very difficult in the first place, there is an easy mode that greatly increases your health, which is handy for inexperienced gamers.
As this is Kirby’s first 3D outing besides spin-offs, the Copy Abilities are few in number and greatly simplified. There are only twelve Copy Abilities this time around, and each one only has a few attacks, compared to the dozens of attacks each ability could perform in previous games. It is unfortunate how few Copy Abilities there are, but it’s understandable, since they all had to be remade for 3D.
Despite this, there is one aspect of Copy Abilities that is improved from previous games. Abilities can now be evolved, increasing their strength, speed, or both. A few abilities change significantly, like Sword, which can change from a quick but weak broadsword to a slow but powerful greatsword, but most only gain minor effects and aren’t particularly useful.
Separately from Copy Abilities, certain objects, such as cars and vending machines, can be inhaled to use Mouthful Mode. In Mouthful Mode, Kirby hilariously stretches his body around the object and takes control of it. These objects can then be used in limited areas to solve puzzles or make levels easier. Mouthful Mode does a good job at mixing up the gameplay.
Outside of main levels, there are short speedrun challenges that give rare items upon completion. You also have access to a hub world called Waddle Dee Town. As you rescue Waddle Dees, more activities open up, like minigames, shops, and boss rushes.
There is a cooperative mode available, where a second player controls Bandana Waddle Dee. Instead of using Copy Abilities like Kirby, Bandanna Waddle Dee simply uses a spear to attack. Since I have no one to play with, I only ever used this mode for testing purposes. While it is nice that co-op was implemented, player 2 often has to sit back while player 1 does all the work (especially when player 1 is using Mouthful Mode).
By default, A is for jumping, and B is for attacking, with these inputs being able to be swapped. L, R, ZL, and ZR are all used for guarding against attacks. Thankfully, these controls all translate well into 3D. The only issue I have with the controls is that dropping a Copy Ability requires either holding Y or tapping Minus, with no option to tap Y.
As the world is based on Earth, Kirby and the Forgotten Land goes for a more realistic look. The visuals do a good job at making the world look run down. There are a few frame drops every now and then, but they never hindered the experience.
One aspect about Kirby games that you can always count on is for them to have amazing soundtracks. Unfortunately, Kirby and the Forgotten Land’s soundtrack isn’t quite on par with those in recent games, with many songs being rather forgettable (pun entirely intended). That isn’t to say the soundtrack is bad; it just doesn’t have as many memorable tracks as previous games.
The moral issues are thankfully few. There is cartoon violence, such as defeating enemies with swords, bombs, and cute-looking guns. Ghost enemies also appear quite frequently. Many Kirby games have the final boss end up being some kind of Eldritch abomination. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is no different, having a disturbing final boss made up of goopy corpses of various enemies.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land manages to bring Kirby to the third dimension almost perfectly. It is unfortunate how few Copy Abilities are present, and it’s disappointing how limited the co-op is, but Kirby and the Forgotten Land is still nearly everything I wanted out of a 3D Kirby entry. My only major concern is that many will be disturbed by the final boss. I would recommend Kirby and the Forgotten Land to old fans and newcomers alike.