My girlfriend and I have been playing a good amount of “Kirby and the Forgotten Land” for Nintendo Switch lately, which has been a wonderful, lowkey adventure that reminds me a lot of “Super Mario Odyssey” due to its aesthetic of merging mundane, everyday city imagery with Kirby’s classic cartoon style. The game takes place in an abandoned world overrun by nature that looks very much post-apocalyptic, but it never feels creepy or unsettling, as it lulls you in with bright, warm colors and hazards that are fun to navigate — it never make you feel nervous and you never feel in danger, except perhaps for the final boss of the regular story’s campaign.
Much of Kirby’s classic bosses return such as Bonkers and Mr. Frosty, though they have been given “wild variations” and upgraded movesets from previous games. This game also has completely new, Beast-themed world bosses that mostly work, but can be a challenge at times due to awkward, forced perspectives. This really feels like a game with side scrolling mechanics that was adapted into a 3D space, and while this allows the game’s beautiful, detail-filled worlds to shine, it does lead to some awkward gameplay.
The real star of this game is the titular “Forgotten Land.” You have standard world themes fair: A grass/woodland world (Natural Plains), an ocean/beach world (Everbay Coast), an ice world (Winter Horns), a desert world (Originull Wasteland) and a lava world (Redgar Forbidden Lands). There’s even a circus/fair world (Wondaria Remains). But where they really shine is their small details that give them character — half of the fun of this game is exploring and taking in the game’s beautiful landscapes and the other half comes from fun platforming.
As mentioned before, the boss fights range in quality, with some enhancing the experience and providing fun challenges in their own right, with others stopping the game’s momentum in its tracks either because of their bloat, or conflicting 3D game design and game mechanics. The worst perpetrator is Originull Wasteland’s boss, Sillydillo, which is a speed-based opponent with a dash attack not suited to the confined arena the fight takes place in. Kirby is a relatively slow-moving character as well, and this game limits his “float” ability — Sillydillo honestly would work better in a speed-based platformer like Sonic.
“Forgotten Land” also sprinkles minigames throughout each world, in which Kirby can collect rare stars that he can use to upgrade his copy abilities. Most of these are fantastic and few took more than one try to complete, but they are hard to master. They no doubt provide endless fun for the speedrun community.
Speaking of copy abilities, this game has plenty of them. They vary the gameplay, and create great incentive to complete each minigame. There are often lower-key minigames in the Waddle Dee Village (your homebase) that include fishing, a cafe minigame and a tilt-and-roll game. The village expands the more Waddle Dees you free from captivity, which are scattered throughout the game’s main levels. Like previous Kirby games, there is also an arena mode in which past bosses can be fought in succession for additional prizes.
I pick up Nintendo games to pass the time and to de-stress and forget about the real world, and “Kirby and the Forgotten Land” certainly has done that for me. Some might find its main campaign to be too easy — don’t worry, after the main game, much harder challenges await. But people don’t pick up Kirby games expecting “Dark Souls” levels of difficulty. In many ways, they are comfort food, and that’s all they need to be.
“Kirby and the Forgotten Land” gets an 8/10