Kirby and the Forgotten Land review: An exciting new adventure

Nintendo /

Title: Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Developer: Nintendo, HAL Labs
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed on)
Release Date: March 25, 2022

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is some absolute peak Kirby despite it being 3D. While the game feels like something new, it’s pretty formulaic with one minor change. Most Kirby games deal with bizarre new characters coming to Kirby’s world and attacking; but, this one involves Kirby getting pulled to a whole new dimension and dealing with bizarre new characters there.

And like any great game in which you start off in a bizarre new land, Kirby wakes up face down on the beach. Hey, it worked for Link, Pokemon, Final Fantasy, and many more and I’m here for a good trope.

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And this is a truly bizarre land for Kirby to be in because it is a world a lot  like ours, albeit in ruins. Humanity seems to have suddenly disappeared from this world and the animals have taken over. Specifically, the ones under the rule of a gang called The Beast Pack.

You explore this strange new world, figuring out what happened here and rescuing all the people from your planet who were pulled in along with you.

It’s jarring seeing Kirby’s bright pastel aesthetics against this very human world. There’s even a language the developers made up where, if you ever get bored, you can actually translate and read signs and papers that are all over the place. It feels like people lived here once but for Kirby, everything is new, different, and kinda horrifying from his point of view.

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As Kirby explores the land, it doesn’t take long for him to discover his trip through the portal also granted him a new ability, “Mouthful Mode”. He can stretch himself around certain objects from lockers to cones to pipes and use them to achieve new things. You can use some to fly, drive, or even boat around. Some allow you to solve tricky platforming puzzles. Some just give you fun new ways to attack.

They’re also absolutely adorable. My personal favorite look comes from certain puzzles that require you to absorb scaffolding stairs. Look at his face. It’s amazing.

As for the controls to the game, it plays exactly how I hoped it would. Kirby gets fairly tired flying for too long and flies really slow so you can’t use his signature flight ability to skip over tricky platforming bits. The enemies are a nice mix of familiar and new animal-like foes. You can still absorb a slew of different powers, all of which can evolve into powerful and interesting new abilities. Even the infamous Sleep “power” that makes Kirby fall asleep on the ground can evolve into a new form.

As for how attacking translates to 3D, it’s pretty smooth.

A huge part of that is thanks to some trickery by the game devs. In a recent interview, they admitted that they did some interesting coding where, if it looks like the attack should hit, it’ll hit. This is especially useful as Kirby is a pink orb and knowing exactly which way he’s facing when his back is to you can sometimes suck. So with this trick, it makes the gameplay a lot more satisfying.

Some might complain this makes the game too easy, even on it’s more difficult “Wild Mode.” But if you, as an adult, are playing a Kirby game and complaining about it being easy, then you’re new to Kirby. Kirby is supposed to be easy. Kirby is Nintendo’s primary game franchise for younger games.

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The whole point of the pink puffball is to create an enjoyable experience for younger, newer gamers and, honestly, I’m thankful for it. Most of the time, games made for kids are terrible broken cash grabs and I’m happy to finally have something that not only I enjoyed but I can have fun playing with my kids. And I can thanks to the excellent co-op mode.

Co-op mode allows you to play as a Waddle Dee with a spear. It can’t absorb abilities but it has a slew of fun attacks, and, as Kirby evolves their abilities, whenever they use an evolved skill, the spear itself also gets new moves. It’s fun without causing a lot of mayhem. Plus, it’s adorable watching the Waddle Dee do things like clinging to the car or flying modes throwing spears at enemies.

All this works together to make a perfect family game with one mild exception. I won’t spoil it by going into detail but a lot of Kirby fans know that the Kirby games have a weird habit of having a final boss that’s borderline nightmare fuel. From the very first Kirby game suddenly having a dark force leak from King Dedede and becoming a weird vampire that looks like it escaped Cuphead, to Marx, an adorable Kirby like character who becomes a multidimensional winged being that can do everything from claw through space itself or rip itself in half (leaving stretchy tendrils still connecting the two halves) and causing a black hole to form between the two parts. Not to mention a slew of final bosses that are massive one-eyed beings that seemed to have gotten lost from their roles in Bayonetta. Kirby and the Forgotten Land’s last boss is no exception and, honestly, may be the most terrifying thing ever in a mainline Nintendo game.

If I had a complaint it’s that the world is not as expansive as I hoped. The town that all the saved Waddle Dees build and expand on as you save more hits full size really early in the game. Likewise, while the powers are fun and it’s cool being able to expand them, I’ll fully admit that I was spoiled by Kirby Star Allies allowing me to mix several powers together to make new ones. I expected a bit more but what I got is still traditional Kirby so I can’t fault it to much for that.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land (Nintendo Switch) Score: 9.5/10

Despite a brand new world and switching from 2D to 3D, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the traditional Kirby experience you know and love. This is a by-the-books Kirby game in an exciting new world, and it’s an experience you can share with your family — especially with how well the co-op mode is implemented.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.