MISHAWAKA – A new Kirby game has been revealed by Nintendo, and it is the titular pink puffball’s first three-dimensional outing in quite some time.
It has been a few months since Kirby the Forgotten Land was revealed, but I was busy eating holiday-themed carbohydrates and further damaging my sleep schedule to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard in this case. However, this new game comes almost four years after its predecessor, Kirby Star Allies: a Switch title releasing to middling reviews with many players citing its disappointing length as one of the main letdowns, and I found the game to be quite uninspired. Star Allies was standard fare for a Kirby game: walk from left to right, hopping or inhaling enemies to gain their abilities to make it through levels, and ultimately fix whatever minor inconvenience that exploded into a galactic-level extinction event.
We are not here to talk about the decidedly average Star Allies, however. The Forgotten Land has one big perk that elevates it above Star Allies, and most other Kirby games: the third dimension. This is the first mainline 3D Kirby game, meaning players will get to experience Kirby’s cutesy, loveable, and friend-shaped-form in a heretofore unused spatial perspective. For people who want to do more than be filled with happiness, warmth, and adoration that simply glancing at Kirby will induce, there is the matter of the actual game.
Details on the plot of the game are sparse, as it has a while before it is officially released on March 25. As near as I can figure, however, Kirby washes up on the shore of a mysterious island that holds an abandoned and overgrown city in search of kidnapped Waddle Dee’s, little fellas similar to Kirby in stature and adorability, but less pink. The city, and indeed the rest of the island seems to hold the remnants of a long-dead civilization. The architecture matches a modern-day, real-world city, but it is clear from various advertisements scattered around abandoned transportation hubs and the small residences that its main inhabitants were likely older Waddle Dee adjacents.
The gameplay does not seem to change all too much, save for what a move from 2D to 3D platforming would necessitate: boss fights, traversal, puzzles, and collecting will now occupy the most coveted dimension. However, judging by some of the side activities and points of interest, The Forgotten Island seems to offer more than just a linear and brief story: fishing, NPC dialogue, different types of collectibles, and what appeared to be a bounty system might flesh out the experience.
Nintendo seems to be on a trend lately of giving their most beloved franchises modern makeovers; games that retain the nostalgic and enjoyable core but incorporate modern mechanics and amenities that bring back old players and entice new ones simultaneously. Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild started this trend back in 2017, and Metroid: Dread followed in their footsteps in 2021. The Japanese company seems intent on making series re-defining games for some of their biggest sellers, and while Kirby Star Allies did not follow this trend, I think they might have succeeded in catapulting Kirby back into contention with the other titans thanks to The Forgotten Island.