Kirby is no stranger to reinvention. Aside from his ability to transform into all sorts of shapes and sizes, the games he plays often experiment with new settings and gimmicks, whether it’s rolling a limbless Kirby around with the DS Stylus in Curse of the Webpiloting mechs in Planet Robobotor fundamentally change the way it transforms into epic yarn. Kirby and the Forgotten Land might seem like another addition to this list at first glance, this time warping the traditionally 2D structure into 3D levels. But in reality, this platformer feels like the next big step for a more classic Kirby formula rather than a shake-up of it, and it’s one that ably translates the things I love about Kirby into a fresh new perspective – but still familiar.
The Kirby series isn’t one I’d pinned as the type of a trip to a post-apocalyptic setting, but after a wormhole is opened above Dream Land, the crumbling remains of ‘a seemingly human society are exactly where we find our pink protagonist. Amid the rusting buildings and pleasantly vibrant overgrowth is a group of Waddle Dees looking to settle into their new home…or they would be if they weren’t all immediately kidnapped by monsters. And with this simple but effective setup, it’s up to Kirby to venture into this run-down world to rescue as many as he can and help them rebuild their town.
32 new screenshots from Kirby and the Forgotten Land
To do this, you must fight your way through a series of linear levels, sucking in enemies to steal their powers, and finding secrets along the way. Obviously the move from 2D changes how exactly you proceed, but the movement, combat, and general way in which alternate paths or objects are hidden are all recognizable and satisfying – others have compared it to own Mario’s perspective shift in Super Mario 3D World, and I don’t think that’s an unfair comparison to make. It’s also a joy to find the Waddle Dees hidden in optional offshoots and secret alcoves, especially since new buildings will spring up in town as its population grows, giving you the ability to purchase buffs items, unlock ability upgrades, and even play a few. cute little mini games like fishing.
The levels themselves mix platforming puzzles with combat throughout, and the dozen copy abilities you get from inhaling certain enemies have fun roles to play in both. The combat is fairly straightforward, but the different flavor each ability brings makes it interesting, whether you’re burning baddies with fire or shooting them with a literal gun. On the platform side, options like the ice ability allow you to skate safely through dangerous terrain while the sword can cut some ropes to open up new paths. All of these abilities are always cleverly used, with each level pushing you to switch between them as different situations or closed sections arise.
Forgotten Land isn’t a terribly difficult game (even on its optimistically named “Wild Mode” difficulty), but it’s far from insane – not like Yoshi’s latest outing in craft world, for example, which was fun but had levels where you could just hold the stick to the right until you hit the goal. Here, tougher enemies push you to move around and make the most of each ability’s limited moveset, especially during the handful of creatively constructed boss fights, and the secrets can range from being hidden practically in plain sight to be surprisingly well hidden. I only died once or twice in my roughly 10 hour run, but after the first two stages it was rare for me to reach 100% of a level on my first run, and I was often tempted to dig up anything I had missed. That said, it can sometimes be a little unclear if something is a secret path or just a gap in the terrain decorations with an annoying invisible wall, but that was just an occasional inconvenience.
These decorations and some of the mechanics around them are distinguished by the themed “worlds” each stage is sorted into, including settings like a water-focused beach, a snowy landscape with buildings more inspired by British architecture and an illuminated carnival ground. Forgotten Land can be a surprisingly pretty game, especially during its personality-packed cutscenes, with great use of color throughout and sometimes elaborate locations – whether it’s intricate circus rides or mall interiors. dilapidated businesses. But while each world is pleasantly varied, the post-apocalyptic setting as a whole isn’t necessarily the most exciting. Kirby inevitably ends up jumping through different flavors of rusty roof or crumbling city street in each world, and this wasteland just isn’t as cool as any of the fantasy locations he’s visited in his own universe.
This extends somewhat to the new “Mouthful” abilities he can use, which include the now-notorious car transformation. These are everyday objects that Kirby can’t quite swallow, instead modifying his body while his mouth is wrapped around them (gross) to allow you to navigate a specific area in front of you. Call me old fashioned, but Kirby most turning into a vending machine would be weirder than smart if it weren’t for the fun way those Mouthful powers are used and revisited throughout the campaign. The car lets you speed through exciting tracks designed for speed, the vending machine slows your movement but lets you quickly shoot cans from your mouth, and a hilarious circular object essentially turns Kirby into a giant air blaster that can be used to turn fans, knock enemies over and even propel small boats through water. I don’t know how developer HAL Laboratory did it, but they managed to turn traffic cones, scissor lifts, and even nondescript big metal pipes into genuinely entertaining transformations.
You also have additional opportunities to test your expertise with all of Kirby’s powers (Mouthful or not) in special Treasure Road challenges between levels. These bonus rooms give you a specific ability in a race against time, rewarding you with a special star if you can get to the end of an obstacle course fast enough and a handful of coin-based currency if you can. do it under a certain target time. The treasure roads ended up being some of my favorite parts of Forgotten Land, acting as quick bites of optional challenge that often made use of what each transformation could do in the smartest way. For example, having boomerangs from the cutter ability’s blade return to you might just add a bit of extra damage when fighting on a normal level, but in a treasure route, mastering that behavior could be the difference between reaching whether or not the target time. The coin reward for this is a pretty insignificant draw on its own, but that didn’t stop me from frequently trying to fine-tune my move and push my time below it anyway.
Those stars you get also power another cool addition: blueprints hidden in levels (or sometimes just handed over after big fights) that will unlock upgraded versions of specific abilities that you can buy with stars and coins, like giving your cutter two blades instead of one. This helps keep them fresh throughout, although it very rarely changes how you’ll actually think about using them in any given situation. Thanks to my relatively deep playstyle, I always had enough stars and coins to unlock them all as soon as I found their blueprints until the very end, which means the process of getting back to town to pay for an upgrade after finding each blueprint was largely symbolic – but hey, the thing is, my fire ability makes me look like a dragon now.
Forgotten Land also has co-op play, but the way it’s been implemented is one of its few disappointments. It’s nice that a second player can step in pretty much anytime, but it’s very much like a ‘younger brother’ mode. Player two can only play as Bandana Waddle Dee, who wields a spear and unfortunately can’t use any abilities, which previous Kirby games have often allowed your partner to do. To make matters worse, the camera stays focused on Kirby without considering the second player, often causing him to fall off screen and teleport towards you like the world’s shortest yo-yo. It’s always a fun time running through co-op levels or boss fights, it’s just far from the best co-op a Kirby game has seen.