MISHAWAKA – Kirby and the Forgotten Land has released this past week, and as a Day 1 owner of it, I am weighing in on its quality.
So, the first thing I noticed about Kirby and the Forgotten Land was how quickly it installed on my Switch; I popped in the cartridge, and it was immediately playable – no updates, no patches, just me and Kirby. For the record, even my favorite Switch game, Smash Ultimate had a ten-minute, day-one update, so in the three years since that game came out, Nintendo clearly stepped its games up.
The second thing I noticed about the game is that it looks beautiful; plenty of previous Kirby games have had stylized graphics, like Epic Yarn’s crafted, hand-knit aesthetic, Rainbow Curse’s clay visuals, and Mass Attack’s frenetic animation, but this new entry is the first time that Kirby has been walking through 3D environments with real-world elements, like skyscrapers, highways, and cars. Seeing little 0’8” Kirby next to a metropolitan high-rise is not only refreshingly disorientating, but immensely entertaining.
Not only level design, but little mechanical details, like footprints in the sand for the desert and beach environments, mossy and cracked concrete in city areas, and Kirby getting a damp and glossy sheen after he takes a dip in the game’s various oceans, rivers, and lakes. Even the hairs on the most basic enemies are meticulously rendered and react to the hurricane-force winds Kirby employs for his signature inhale technique. I will also take this time to remind you that the “basic enemies” are just cute, furry, orange wolves that are no bigger than Kirby, himself. I genuinely feel guilty every time I start inhaling them or hitting them with whatever power I am currently using.
My initial assessment of the game’s plot was fairly close for as little detail as I was given. Instead of simply washing up on the shore of a single island, Kirby gets sucked into a rift in the sky of his home planet Popstar into a different world. The first series of levels do take place in that same city area that I mentioned, but the game continues quite a ways after that. I cannot speak to much of it, though; I am only an hour into the game for what my schedule has allowed, but it seems like a good deal of it will be spent recovering the missing Waddle Dee’s and helping them rebuild their ad hoc settlement.
The newest bit of The Forgotten Land is Kirby’s “mouthful” ability. In previous Kirby canon, it has been established that the inside of our lovely little pink friend is an entirely separate dimension, which Kirby can access at will, allowing him to inhale enemies and “copy” their abilities when they are in that dimension. He can spit back out or copy anything he inhales, but that was the extent of his mysterious maw. Now, it seems that Kirby can keep whatever he inhales in the front of his mouth, which is to say, “in this dimension.” The upshot of this is Kirby can keep a car in his mouth with the wheels poking out, form around a vending machine but keep the dispensary slot open, and/or swallow a traffic cone to turn into a sentient stalactite. There are many more “mouthful” abilities to utilize over the course of the game, and I cannot wait to find them and be moderately unnerved by their implications for Kirby’s anatomy.
So, as far as preliminary assessments go, I am having an absolute ball with Kirby and The Forgotten Land, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone with a Switch looking for a cheery and charming single-player experience. For those interested, there are retailers offering complimentary Kirby pouches alongside the purchase of the game in-store, so there is no better time to buy it, because the Lord knows that Nintendo’s first-party games will stay at a cool $60 until the heat death of the universe.