Review: Kirby and the Forgotten Land (Nintendo Switch)
I have always had a soft spot for the Kirby franchise. While they might not be the most difficult games to play, Kirby always excelled at bursting with personality. It isn’t just colorful worlds, and wonderfully designed characters, that make Kirby burst with personality. It’s the way each and every level and every animation is designed. This personality bursting at the seams has never been more apparent than in Kirby and the Forgotten Land. The first foray into 3D for the Kirby franchise is easily one of the most well-designed, well-executed, and personality-bursting experiences I’ve played in quite some time. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is an absolute triumph for HAL Laboratory and an absolute must play for Nintendo Switch owners.
Kirby in the Forgotten Land immediately excels at making you feel good. Part of this has to do with its more simple take on 3D platforming, making challenges less, well, challenging. The simple act of moving around and interacting within a 3D environment is straightforward, which in turn makes you feel quite good controlling Kirby. At no point did I ever have an instance where I thought Kirby was doing his own thing without my control. This sometimes happens in 3D platformers, where the controls are not tight enough to truly make you feel in control. Fortunately, Kirby excels in this area, and if you read Nintendo‘s developer interview on the game, you know the developer spent a long time trying to perfect this feeling.
When you go into Kirby and the Forgotten Land, you’re getting a 3D platforming game more akin to Super Mario 3-D World than Super Mario Odyssey. While you do have these 3D environments to explore, much like Mario 3D World, these are more self-contained areas that you explore in 3D. This is by no means a bad thing as Kirby and the Forgotten Land does a great job at filling each area with unique enemies, puzzles, or other great elements.
Let’s get to the sort of elephant in the room. A lot of conversation around Kirby and the Forgotten Land has to do with its difficulty. So is Kirby and the Forgotten Land an easy game? Yes, yes it is. I played through the game on wild mode (Forgotten Land’s version of hard difficulty) and never found the experience truly difficult. I might’ve died once or twice playing the game, but it was mostly my fault and not the challenge of the game. However, is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. As much as I love challenging platforming games, there’s something unbelievably refreshing about Kirby and the Forgotten Land. It’s the type of game that everyone of all ages and gaming experience can enjoy.
It might be a more accessible game, but it does try to appeal to audiences expecting a little more challenge. This is mainly done through each level’s “challenges.“ Basically each level has a set of objectives, some known to you and others completely hidden, that you have to search for in order to 100% a level. This can be something as simple as eating four fruits hidden in a bush, to the more complicated ones, such as defeating a certain enemy with a specific ability without ever getting hit. Granted, these challenges don’t take Kirby to a massive difficulty spike level, but it’s an aspect of the game you can tell that was designed for those looking for something more in the Kirby game.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is also one of the few games I’ve played over the last few years that always leaves a smile on my face. Like I mentioned before, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is bursting with personality. Yet it’s the fact that that personality is cute, colorful, and playful that truly leaves that smile on your face. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is aware that some of the things it’s having you do is a bit absurd. For example, having Kirby swallow a car and drive around is a bit odd. Still, the game recognizes that, and in one instance in the beginning, breaks out into an anime style music video showing that the developers are aware of this and are leaning into it.
My biggest criticism of Kirby and the Forgotten Land has to do with its co-op mode. While you can play Kirby and the Forgotten Land in co-op with a friend, it feels like this mode was thrown in at the last minute. Despite being on screen with Kirby, the second player usually gets dragged along for the experience… Literally. The game is so focused on what Kirby is doing that if a second player goes too far away from Kirby, it automatically pulls them back to where Kirby is standing.
It also doesn’t help that the camera will not focus on the second player, instead focusing on what Kirby is doing. Again it’s understandable, considering this is Kirby’s adventure. Yet, it does take away from the experience when you’re dragged along as the second player and never truly feeling like it’s your adventure too. This issue is even more pronounced considering the second player is not allowed to use any other ability. You’re a Bandana Waddle Dee with a spear and that’s it for the entire game. It feels like a missed opportunity, the chance to give the second player a more meaningful part in this adventure. However, if you’re playing with younger children, this might be exactly the type of co-op you want. It makes the second player feel like part of the adventure, just not a major element of the experience.
So is Kirby and the Forgotten Land worth your time? Absolutely! Kirby and the Forgotten Land takes the Kirby series into 3D in a wonderfully designed, bursting with personality adventure. It might not be the most challenging game you ever play, but there are enough secrets in the game to leave anyone going back for more. Its beautifully designed environments, characters and overall humor make Kirby and the Forgotten Land a game that leaves a smile on your face. Its co-op mode is a bit of an afterthought, lacking any power-ups or true definition of what the second player is doing on your adventure. However, those with smaller kids wanting a first-time platform in a game to play, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is perfect for them. If you’re planning on playing solo, then Kirby and the Forgotten Land is one of Nintendo Switch’s must-play 3D platforms. It’s simply too fun of an experience for anyone to miss!