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Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

HAL Laboratory's take on a 3D Kirby platforming adventure is here, and it's shaping up to be another essential title for Switch owners.

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A few weeks ago, I shared my initial thoughts on the next major Nintendo title, Kirby and the Forgotten Land. In my impressions, I mentioned how adorable and easy to play the game was, and noted that this could be one of the best platformers of the entire year. But, that was an opinion based solely on the first world. With launch looming, I've had the chance to complete the rest of the game and now I have some further thoughts to add.

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Right off the bat, let me just reaffirm that Kirby and the Forgotten Land is an absolute blast to play. This colourful, vibrant and outright charming title is the epitome of what Nintendo games are. It's incredibly fun, filled with charismatic and fantastic characters, and overflowing with a wide array of mechanics and abilities that keep the gameplay feeling engaging and fresh regardless of what world you are currently looking to complete. It's a game that is designed at its core to be easy to play and dive into, meaning it's ideal for younger audiences, but is still truly enjoyable as a light form of entertainment for older players. And that's something that stretches from the most basic platforming, all the way to the combat and more stand-out boss fight encounters - a personal favourite is the complex and challenging Sillydillo.

As you can probably tell from this summary, this Kirby game is quite the broad platforming experience. You get an adorable storyline that sees the loveable pink puffball fighting tooth and nail to save the Waddle Dees that have been captured by a vicious gang known as the Beast Pack. Then to add to this, you get a magnificently realised world, the Forgotten Land, that is presented as a series-first true 3D adventure, meaning you have a little more freedom in how you explore each level and location the storyline takes you to. By being a 3D game, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is an instantly timeless title to lose a bunch of hours to, as you can become engrossed just pottering around each level, digging for secrets and goodies on the journey to achieve 100% completion.

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I will say though that certain parts of the world are a little bit counterintuitive and work to hinder your ability to explore. For example, the levels are really rather linear, and there's often occasions where walking through a door will mean you are unable to return to a previous part of a level, without starting a level from scratch that is. Add to this the fact that each level's challenges are often a bit daft. A good example is a challenge that sees you literally just unlocking a secret area, with a different challenge being to complete the objective in that secret area. Needless to say, despite the 3D nature generally being a huge improvement to what a Kirby game can be, it's not a perfect example of what a 3D platformer can offer.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Kirby and the Forgotten LandKirby and the Forgotten LandKirby and the Forgotten Land

But on the plus side, what Kirby and the Forgotten Land does offer up is a plentiful array of ways to make Kirby a more capable character. This is handled by the two different types of abilities, one of which is the typical kind of Copy Ability and sees Kirby sucking up an enemy to gain their skillset. This can ultimately see the pink protagonist wielding a sword or a hammer, gaining the ability to dig under the ground like a mole, throw bombs wheely-neely, or even simply take a nap. Each ability is drastically unique and can be used to help remove any threats in Kirby's path or even to interact with the world to unearth a secret or complete a hidden challenge, and each can also be upgraded for added bonus effects and to do more damage. While these abilities are far more commonplace, it's the introduction of the Mouthful Mode abilities that really steal the show.

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Mouthful Mode literally lets Kirby suck up an object to inhibit its characteristics. This can be a car to zoom around a level, a vending machine to fire soda cans like a machine gun, or a cone to stomp into the ground to break cracked surfaces. This is more of a situational set of abilities, as Mouthful Mode is only found in certain places in a level, and for that matter only certain Mouthful Mode objects are found in each level as well, which is a bit of a shame considering just how ingenious they are, and how much they elevate the platforming potential of this game. But, where they are present, you'll instantly want to see Kirby wrapping its mouth around an object, as Mouthful Mode really is a fantastic addition that makes Kirby and the Forgotten Land all the more memorable.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

It's hard to really see the gameplay of Kirby and the Forgotten Land as anything but exceptional. This is an incredibly polished title that looks great (on an OLED Switch), loads pretty quickly, and can easily be picked up and jumped into, which is all the more important considering the fact that it can be played entirely cooperatively with a friend. And whether or not you decide to play alone or with a pal, Kirby and the Forgotten Land even excels by serving up quite a lengthy experience, one that will see you sinking tens of hours into it to truly encroach everything that it offers, be it saving all the Waddle Dees, upgrading every ability, or setting the best possible times and scores in the various minigames that are found in the expandable main hub location of Waddle Dee Town.

As you can tell, the replayable element is there and the enjoyable gameplay does work to accommodate that by making you want to go back into a level just to pick it clean of anything it's hiding. But, it is worth saying that while a lot of the collectible aspects are pretty entertaining, the inclusion of the randomised Gotcha Machines are underwhelming and make completing the figure collection a bit of a slog. Likewise, the added Treasure Road challenges that are found on the world map are fun initially, but quickly become a chore, even if they are rather difficult to actually fail and are crucial to complete as they reward stars necessary to upgrade gear.

Kirby and the Forgotten LandKirby and the Forgotten Land
Kirby and the Forgotten LandKirby and the Forgotten Land

Yet all in all, it's difficult to see Kirby and the Forgotten Land as anything less than an essential game for all Nintendo Switch owners. This will stand up as one of the better platforming games we'll get over the course of this year. But it isn't the most exceptional showcase of what a platformer can be, as compared to say Super Mario Odyssey and its timeless and truly innovative worlds, Kirby does definitely lack. In fact it'd be better to compare this title to Super Mario 3D World as the core design is far more similar and representative of what the Forgotten Land serves up. Still, if you like colourful, simple, genuinely fun platformers that ooze charm, HAL Laboratory's Kirby and the Forgotten Land ticks all the right boxes.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
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Very enjoyable game that is overflowing with charm. Various types of abilities keep gameplay fresh. Super simple to dive into. Visuals and performance are top-notch.
-
Levels are very linear. Gotcha Machines collectible system is dull. Treasure Road challenges quickly lose their appeal.
overall score
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Kirby and the Forgotten Land

REVIEW. Written by Ben Lyons

HAL Laboratory's take on a 3D Kirby platforming adventure is here, and it's shaping up to be another essential title for Switch owners.



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