Written by Azdin Costa.
After three decades and countless of games, spinoffs and even an animated series, Kirby returns to our console in his latest adventure, this time in full 3D. Packing even more tricks and upgradable copy abilities, is this truly the mouthful we were hoping for, or a blotted out choke hazard? Let’s find out!
As a new day begins on Dream Land, Kirby goes out for a morning stroll before taking a ride around on his Warp Star. As he flies over the rolling, green hills and luscious bodies of water, he suddenly stops when he comes across a large mass of dark storm clouds in the sky. Within the clouds, a multitude of star-shaped vortexes open and begin to suck everything up. Shocked by the strange occurrence, Kirby attempts to flee on the Warp Star, flying over fleeing Waddle Dees which are helplessly sucked into the vortexes. Bandana Waddle Dee is caught in the vortexes’ pull as well, trying to remain on the ground by stabbing his spear into it, but failing. Kirby dodges many objects being pulled in by the vortexes, but is unable to avoid a large tree branch and is knocked off the Warp Star, flying right into a vortex. Within it, the strange space begins to squash and stretch Kirby to drastic proportions before he eventually loses consciousness.
Once Kirby awakens, he finds himself washed ashore in a strange and mysterious world, one where nature and civilization have become one. After traveling through an abandoned city, Kirby wanders into a building that contains a car inside. A group of three Awoofys appear from behind the car and charge at Kirby. Kirby inhales them all, as well as the car, stretching his mouth over it with
his newfound ability: Mouthful Mode, which he gained from the vortexes. Kirby then drives through the city before noticing a bunch of Waddle Dees being carried off in cages by birds. Kirby heads in the direction where the birds were coming from and finds a destroyed Waddle Dee Town, which the Waddle Dees built once they arrived in the strange world.
Kirby sees members of the Beast Pack, a group of savage, animal- like beings, chase Waddle Dees before capturing them in cages. A blue, rodent-like creature named Elfilin, who aided the Waddle Dees once they landed, attempts to find a place to hide, but is cornered by the Beast Pack and trapped in a cage. Kirby then fights and defeats the Beast Pack and frees Elfilin, who explains that he and the Waddle Dees attempted to fight back, but were overwhelmed, and that he must save them. Kirby offers to help Elfilin, and the two formally introduce themselves to each other before setting off to rescue the Waddle Dees.
Kirby’s newest three dimensional platformer will see him traveling through levels, in hopes of rescuing as many Waddle Dees as possible. Although many were expecting gameplay akin to Mario Odyssey; with a truly open sandbox level, with full camera controls and items to collect, the structure and flow is comparable to Mario 3D World. Levels require the player to travel through whilst collecting coins, copy abilities, gatcha figures and imprisoned Waddle Dees.
This is the main objective of each level, seeing the player carrying out some fun and obscure activities in order to find all of the Waddle Dees in the level. There are some that are rewarded from carrying out a specific objective, whilst others are well hidden within the level. There are three caged at the end of a level and freeing them allows you to exit onto the next one.
These will return to the town and rebuild, unlocking more facilities that will aid Kirby along the way. They will also help break the Boss gate once you have reached it.
Bosses are great fun to tackle as well as offering a different challenge. There are also different objectives here, meaning that you’ll be encouraged to carry out the boss battle with different abilities. Their demise will grant Kirby passage onto the next area.
The maps are quite different from each other and in turn, make each level feel fresh and unique.
The controls are easy to grasp, with the D Pad allowing for players to get Kirby to pose, whilst he can attack or inhale with the B button and jump with A. His signature flying ability is here, but has been reduced to a hover, which means he will become tired after a short while and slowly decent. Although at first it may seem as a downgrade, developers opted to nerf this ability in order to make gameplay slightly more challenging, as well as forcing the player to re-think certain manoeuvres which seem out of reach. This was possibly the biggest change to the pink puffball, without considering the omission of some of his copy abilities in exchange of the new Mouthful Mode mechanic. The traffic cone for example, somewhat replaces the Stone ability, in terms of ground pounding the cracks on the floor. Kirby will be able to inhale a Mouthful Mode prop even if he has an ability equipped, as these are only needed for certain sections of the level. Kirby is as versatile as ever and seeing him gobble a car or a bulb is as charming as it is hilarious.
Previous instalments were graced by a multitude of copy abilities that allowed Kirby to slice, break, and even speed through levels. This game sees the addition of the Ranger ability, which allows him to fire a gun, or the Drill ability which gives him the power to burrow underground.
There are twelve abilities in total which can be evolved a number of times, making them more powerful. Kirby will have to find the right blueprint and acquire enough rare stones in order for the weapon’s shop smith to evolve the copy ability. This gaming mechanic really
complements the flow and pacing compared to other Kirby games, as it requires players to explore every level and grab as many coins and rare stones as possible.
Rare stones can be found in hidden Treasure Road stages, scattered around the world map. These are truly the most challenging sections of the game, without being too hard. Most require Kirby to don a specific ability in order to complete the timed trial, and doing so will earn him the prized stone. Although these levels can be completed within a specific timeframe, doing so will only grant the player an extra 50 coins. This may be a small reward for some of the truly unfair timed challenges, but it may be a welcomed feature for the avid completionists out there.
The Waddle Dee town is the main game hub that will gradually see an upgrade and rebuilding taking place as you progress through the game. Eventually, Kirby will have a house and a fishing pond, as well as a pop up restaurant where he can buy and work. There are so many mini games that have been organically added here, and help break the monotony slightly. My favourite one being the Colosseum, which acts as a boss rush. A lot of these can be played with a second player via couch co-op too.
The game was played on Wild mode, which is the harder option, although anyone experienced enough at playing 3D platformers may not find it challenging, at least not until the last levels and the post game. A lot of the levels will require multiple playthroughs, especially when you realise that you require a specific ability in order to carry out a puzzle. This may seem like an aged mechanic, it does not deter from the experience, as experimentation and exploration is encouraged. This is true especially when returning with an evolved ability.
Getting from A to B in a level is a simple affair, although the satisfying bulk of the experience is collecting everything within a level. This is not a game that will see you grabbing everything on your first run, as some of the objectives will become available once you have unlocked it or completed the level. With tonnes to do and collect, alone or in couch co-op, this game can be enjoyed at your own leisure.
The game has a number of movies that are incredibly detailed, with vivid coloured radiating in every level. The lighting and shadow effects, as well as the vastness of some of the open areas, really immerse the player into the derelict world, full of abandoned shopping malls covered in ivy, and deserts full of rusty ships. There is so much detail here, no matter where you look. The animations are fluid and charming, although some do suffer from the slight stagger when seen from afar, only to correct itself when closer to the camera.
The camera can be moved with the right stick, albeit only allowing for a slight panning. Although the fixed camera is so responsive, some may forget that the option to control it is there.
The Mouthful Mode props will shimmer, giving the player a cue that it can be interacted with. All of the special effects such as fire and ice have been beautifully rendered. The shimmering of the grass and the fog in the distance in the later snowy levels, are some of the effects and textures that really make this one of the best looking Kirby games to date.
The classic Kirby tunes are back, some with some pleasant remixes. A lot of the classic sound effects have also made a return, such as the high pitched bop sound when he lands or the jingle when he is defeated. Kirby has his signature childlike voice and the game has some decent voice acting later on. These may seem like they might irritate after a while, but I personally enjoyed all the sound effects and songs. All of the music is fitting to the environment, which is to be expected in a Kirby game.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is available from the eshop for £49.99 / $59.99 or your regional equivalent, and requires a download size of 6.2GB
This is a decently polished, first party title that can be enjoyed by everyone. Completing the game can take an average of 10 hours, although collecting absolutely everything will truly test the most experienced of players. Fans who were somewhat disappointed with Star Allies need not worry, there is enough innovation and replay value to warrant the purchase. As to be expected, Nintendo will price this as it does with all its first party titles, although some may be able to find it cheaper physically online.
Veteran Kirby fans who have played every instalment over the last 30 years are in for a treat. Although apprehension is to be expected, especially seeing the amount of times HAL and Nintendo have experimented with the franchise, this is truly the right formula. There is enough here to please old and new fans, and the transition to 3D, although not as many expected, is something the franchise needed for the longest time. This has allowed developers to add more gameplay mechanics that feel rewarding and enjoyable, whilst being accessible to all. Some may find it a bit too easy but with most Kirby games, there is a decent difficulty spike towards the end, and with it of course, an epic, culminating battle. Do not let this one float away, inhale it whilst you can.